Best Quad Exercises – Top 5 For Massive Muscle Growth

Written by Gudmundur Gudmundsson

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Want to know the best quad exercises to get those massive toned and defined legs?

Are you putting the leg days in at the gym but still don’t like what you see when you look in the mirror?

If you want the massive quads of a bodybuilder instead of those chicken legs, you need to keep reading.

I’ll tell you all I’ve learned about the best quad exercises at home and in the gym. Those quadriceps exercises without weights and some quadriceps strengthening exercises. Hell, I’m even going to throw in a couple of the best hamstring exercises too!

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So don’t go anywhere just yet!

You need to know more first:

What Are the Best Quad Exercises?

Been training your legs but still not seeing the results you want?

Still have legs that resemble a chicken instead of a bodybuilder?

No fear!

Here we have the best quad exercises picked out to give you those awesome results you’re looking for.

To get those massive legs you need to do some targeted exercise routines.

It’s necessary to put in some leg days in at the gym.

And be prepared to be wobbling out after!

These are some of the best quad exercises you need to be hammering on leg days.

The first two are probably the two best exercises you can do to get those bigger quads, but all of them are beneficial.

Barbell Front Squat

The barbell rack needs to be set at shoulder height and you don’t want to have the weight too heavy because we want higher reps with this one.

To start you need to get under the bar and grasp it at shoulder width, raise your elbows so your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Get the weight unracked and have it rest on your fingertips, feet should be shoulder width apart with your toes slightly turned out.

Make sure to keep your posture on form with a tight core, shoulders back and chest up. Now you need to squat as low as you can, whilst  maintaining the tension through your legs, and sink your weight into the heels.

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For this exercise you need to be completing 3 sets of 15-20 reps with a 60 second rest.

This is one of the great quad exercises for bad knees as it creates less torque in the knees as well as less compression of the spine.

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Barbell Back Squat

You need to be using a heavier weight for this one and the bar needs to be set around mid chest height. Find your hand position on the bar before getting under, this can vary depending on your size, mobility and stability but just be sure to find the one most comfortable for you.

Get under the bar and unrack so it’s across your traps and you have your shoulders blades pushed together.

Inhale, contract the abs tightly as you lower into the squat, then drive back up and activate those glutes and hamstrings by squeezing your butt. This allows you to squat with a better weight and also keeps your knees safe.

Complete 5 sets of 8 reps and take 120 second breaks between sets.


For this one you can use either dumbbells or the bar. If you’re relatively new to it, you may be best sticking to dumbbells until you gain more experience.

This exercise is going to build strength and muscle as well as improve balance. If you have problems with balance, you may be best doing this one without weights until your balance improves.

If you are doing the barbell lunges, do it using a squat rack for safety purposes, you don’t want the risk of any injuries!

There are many lunge variations you can do like the walking lunge, static lunge (one foot is already forward) or alternating each leg rather than doing one side at a time.

The exercises I have given you above are also some of the best glute exercises and are great for the hamstrings too, bonus!

Leg Press

This is one of the best quad exercises for newbies as it’s a relatively easy exercise requiring less technical skill.

It allows you to load more weight as it stabilizes muscles, plus it’s brilliant for building hip strength because you get a larger range of motion.

When you lower the press, make sure your upper and lower legs are at a 90-degree angle.

Push up with the heels of your feet and engage the quads to move back to the starting position. Fully extend the legs so your torso and legs are at a  90-degree angle, but make sure not to lock the knees.


We’re not talking about a run around the park, if you’re doing it right then sprints will destroy your quads!

During this exercise your bodyweight should be leant forward for momentum and you need to drive the ball of your feet into the ground to push yourself off as you sprint forward. You need to be swinging those arms aggressively but controlled, and keep that core engaged.

Start with shorter distances of 50 meters and do 8 sets with 60 second rests between sprints.

Try to hit top speeds and exhaust the legs before putting in some longer sprints.

Follow this up with 4 sets of 200 meter sprints with 120 second rest breaks between sets.

There’s our pick of the best quad exercises.

There are many squat and lunge variations that you can and should use.

Plus you can even do these quad exercises without weights, so there’s no reason to miss those leg training days even if you can’t hit the gym!

Can we get right on it now we know this?

No, first you need a heads up on a little more information!

In order to help us decide what the best quad exercises are, knowing more about the quad muscles and how they work will help us understand better.

Let’s take a look.

Anatomy of the Quads

quad anatomy

The quads are a large muscle group which cover the front and side of the thighs.

The quadriceps have four parts; hence ‘quad’.

You can see in the picture the four parts are:

  • Rectus femoris
  • Vastus intermedius
  • Vastus lateralis
  • Vastus medialis

These muscles make up the quadriceps and they work to flex the hips and extend the knees.

We use these guys for almost all the activities which involve the use of our legs.

These are the bad boys we want to train and want as the centerpiece of our legs with those massive muscles and major definition.

So we need to be making sure we understand what the best quad exercises are in order to achieve it.

Every day, we use our quads in a number of ways which we don’t even realize!

Walking, running, jumping and squatting down; yep even sitting on the couch engages our quads.


We need to make sure we incorporate some functional quad exercises into our program to improve strength, balance and mobility.

By using functional exercises it means we are using the muscles in the way they should be used by simulating common movements.

This will not only help us in the gym but in daily life.

So what does this mean?

When we’re doing the squats, lunges and even the sprints, they are functional as they simulate the common movements we normally use but we add the weights to give those muscles a higher intense workout.


If you have bad knees which cause you pain, you need to make sure you’re not putting additional pressure on them and ensure you choose the best quadriceps exercises for knee pain.1

Your health provider can give you lots of information on the best quadriceps exercises for knee pain, so give them a visit first if this is a problem you have.

You don’t want to be adding extra pressure to your knees by adding weights or doing the wrong exercises and making the problem worse.

So, where are we at now?

We looked at the best quad exercises and now we have a better understanding about the anatomy of the quads so, we’re not going to be causing ourselves any injuries.

Ready to get started on achieving those massive defined quads?

Let’s have a look at some routines that are popular with guys already achieving those HUGE thighs:

Best Quad Exercise Routines for Mass and Strength

top quad exercises

Now we need to start building those enormous defined quads.

But where do we start?

The first thing we need to do is find a routine that is going to get us the best results.

We need to add mass and we need to build definition!

How can this be achieved?

To build those quads, we need a routine that includes some challenging exercises. Heavy weights should be used at a high intensity and with lots of reps.

We need to be using functional exercises so the quality of the movements we perform gives us the maximum results.

The exercises need to be targeted at hitting those quad muscles to achieve the mass and definition we’re after.

They’re also going to work the glutes and calves at the same time, but our main target is the quads.

To switch your training up a bit, you can do separate leg training days which put more emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes.

Today we’re all about the quads!

Here’s the workout:

Leg Extension

We need to get the blood pumping to those quads so we need to hit this first round hard.

Do 10 sets of 30, 27, 25, 20, 20, 15, 15, 12, 12 and 10. Take 30-60 second rests between sets.

Keep the weight high but not too high to bring failure.

At the end of the exercise you should be feeling a lot of blood pumping to those quads.

Narrow Leg Press

Like the name suggests, you use a narrow stance for this one and this helps to put emphasis on those quads.

Keep your heels at the bottom of the board and your stance within shoulder width with your knees behind your toes as you move the weight.

You need to bring the weight down slowly and power it on the way up, but don’t lock out those legs.

Do 6 sets of 15 reps with 30-60 second rests.

Walking Lunge

You can use the barbell or dumbbells for this one, it’s your choice.

Don’t concentrate on reps, instead focus on the distance (but that doesn’t mean you take huge lunges). The smaller the step the better the emphasis on the quad.

Do 6 sets, 2 at 25 yards, 2 at 20 yards and 2 at 15 yards, with 30-60 second rests between sets.

Leg Extension

We’re back to leg extensions again but this time we’re going to focus more on a heavier weight instead of getting the blood pumping like in the first round.

Keep your attention on good quad contractions and smooth control when bringing the weight down.

Remember to use a heavier weight and do 4 sets of 10-12 reps with the usual 30-60 second rests.

Leg Press Calf Raise

Make sure you choose a weight you can control for this exercise, and it will probably be different from the other leg press you did.

You need to be able to move the weight all the way up using the balls of your feet and control it on the way down to allow a good stretch of those calf muscles.

Do 4 sets of 10-12 reps with 30-60 second rests.

Seated Calf Raise

By the time you have reached this exercise your quads should feel dead and your legs should have that wobbly feeling.

You want to make sure you’re going slow and not bouncing the weight. Use your toes to go all the way up and control the weight coming slowly back down so you feel that stretch at the end of every rep.

Do 4 sets of 10-20 reps with 30-60 second rest breaks.

The whole workout should take 60 minutes or less and you need to be doing this once or twice a week depending on if you’re doing split leg workout days.

Doing this routine should give you some awesome results making you proud to show those legs!


quad squat

We all agreed that you wanted to know how to achieve those massive quads.

That’s why we found you the best quad exercises you can use to get them.


You now know all about the quadriceps and how they work.


We finished it off by giving you an awesome quad workout to achieve those massive defined quads you want.

What are you waiting for?!

Hit that gym, start loading the weights and get on it!

Smash that routine so you can finally look in the mirror and love what you see!



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3 thoughts on “Best Quad Exercises – Top 5 For Massive Muscle Growth”

  1. James/BroScience wrote a very good article. Just a couple of points need to be emphasized. As a lifetime athlete and orthopedic surgeon I am aware of the tremendous number of musculoskeletal injuries seen in weight lifting whether body building, power lifting, olympic lifting or just as a supplementary builder of general muscle strength, stamina and mass. Weight lifting can be unequaled in benefit in achieving these goals. However, it can be done with much less risk of suffering the potential short and long term injuries (osteoarthritis aka ‘arthritis’) of bad technique and overtraining, both of which are very common. Weightlifting has one of the highest rates of these injuries in athletic training.

    Correct technique is extremely important to avoid injuries in the here and now and to avoid long term cumulative trauma to joints leading to early osteoarthritis. This is not just a disease of “old people”. It can occur in some young people in their twenties who have trained intensely with weight, high impact and hip and knee repetitive rotational activities. The lower back (spine) and knees are the most common and earliest areas affected. I first developed severe arthritis and cartilage disc damage of the lower spine at the age of twenty seven ! Looking back beginning in the 1970’s, before there was actual science and medicine applied to exercise and sports, we did some insane things thinking that more and more of good was better. I routinely ran on pavement barefoot. I overtrained believing the more pain the more gain. I took vitamins, supplements and protein to the point of risking toxicity.

    Safe and proper weightlifting technique are critical to preventing injury to joints both acute (now) and chronic (later long term and permanent). I see so many young men and some women with shear determination, weightlifting the wrong way in the gym. Many think they know what they are doing or have taken poor advice from big muscle mass guys who are assumed to be very knowledgeable about the right way to train. The guys ‘in the know’. No, many of them are big despite doing it wrong and giving bad advice to aspiring ‘big guys’.

    The BACK should be as erect/vertical as possible throughout the motion of the squatting and lunging exercises to minimize excessive forces that in simplest terms can damage the vertebral cartilage discs, ligaments and smaller joints of the spine. This same principle should be applied to every weight lifting exercise. This includes the frequently abused standing curl where the lean back rocking motion is used to complete the repetition of what is otherwise an excessive weight for the lifter. Instead, an erect/vertical spine should be used to protect the lower lumbar most frequently injured area of the back and to isolate the arm flexors for maximum benefit.

    The knee joints too often are over-stressed by excessive flexion under 90 degrees bend at the knee, to 80 which is going down too far. No weight lifting technique should be performed with the knees flexed more than a 90 degree right angle. The knee is not anatomically designed to carry heavy loads beyond flexion to a horizontal thigh. Beyond this point the knee is subjected to excessively high shearing forces while it has the least mechanical advantage to push against the load. Their was good reason the Olympics eliminated the clean & press because competitors were literally bending back to a near bench press position while standing, causing many bad lumbar spine injuries and having to quite competition.

    The reason I’ve written this lengthy comment is to try to prevent so many young lifters from the long term pain, disappointment, early arthritis and surgery from incorrect technique and overtraining. Learn from people who really know the science and medical effects of weightlifting and exercise and ignore most of the commercial stuff and muscle head self appointed experts.

    Weightlift SMART, not just hard.

  2. Typo above. …flexion at the knee to less than 90 a degree right angle.
    Also the quadriceps are extensors of the lower leg at the knees, not flexors.


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