15 Best Quad Strengthening Exercises You Can Do At Home

Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Who said you need a gym subscription to get strong and toned legs? There are effective quad exercises you can do at home as well! Fitness trainer, Jack McNamara, MSc, CSCS explains that “Exercising the quads helps build strength and improve knee stability and athletic performance.” “They are also a great way to reduce knee pain”, says Dr. Mark Slabaugh, MD, Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon.

From reducing pain and improving fitness to shaping aesthetically pleasing toned legs, quad exercises can do it all. What are you waiting for? Get started with these 15 quad exercises you can do at home safely. Swipe up!

15 Best Quad Exercises You Can Do At Home

Before starting, warm up for 10 minutes. Do arm circles and wrist, neck, and waist rotations. Jog in place to prep your muscles. If you have knee pain or injury, ask your physical therapist to massage your knee before the workout.

Note: If you are recovering from a knee injury or surgery, do only exercises 12-14. Let’s begin!

1. Squats

Squats quad exercise at home

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Works On: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core

Steps

  • Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart and feet pointed at 45 degrees. Keep your spine straight, shoulders rolled back, chest up, and look ahead. This is the starting position.
  • Push your hips out, flex your knees, and lower your body into a sitting position. Brings your hands straight up in front of you. Make sure your knees don’t overshoot your toes.
  • Get back up to the starting position.
  • Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

2. Lunges

Lunges quad exercise at home

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Works On: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and core

Steps

  • Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your waist or hold a 2-pound dumbbell in each hand. Roll your shoulders back, push your chest out, and look ahead. This is the starting position.
  • Take a step forward with your right leg.
  • Flex your knees, and keeping the torso straight, lower the body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause for a moment, get back up, and get back to the starting position.
  • Do the same with the left leg to complete one repetition.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

3. Lateral Lunges

Lateral lunges quad exercise at home

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Works On: Quads, abductors, adductors, hamstrings, glutes, and calves

Steps

  • Stand straight with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart. Roll your shoulders back, push your chest up, keep your hands by the sides, and look ahead. This is the starting position.
  • Take a step to the side with the right leg.
  • Flex the right knee and keeping the left leg straight, lower your body to the right.
  • Touch the floor with your left hand.
  • Get back to the starting position.
  • Do the same on your left side to complete one repetition.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

4. Bulgarian Split Squats

Bulgarian split squats quad exercise at home

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Works On: Quads, hamstrings, and core

Steps

  • Stand in front of a sofa.
  • Place your right foot on the sofa. Roll your shoulders back, keep your chest out, and hands in front of you, and look ahead. This is the starting position.
  • Flex your left knee and lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Pause for a moment and get back to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times before switching legs.
  • Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

5. Wall Sits

Works On: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and core

Steps

  • Stand with your back against a wall. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and about 6 inches away from the wall. Roll your shoulders back and look ahead.
  • Flex both your knees and get into a sitting position. Keep your back against the wall.
  • Hold this position for a minute or two.
  • Get back up. Take a 10-secondrest before repeating it.
  • Do it 3 times.

6. Leg Raises

Works On: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower abs

Steps

  • Lie down on a mat.
  • Lift your legs about 3 inches off the floor. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your legs extended, raise them until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  • Lower your legs but do not let them touch the floor.
  • Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

7. Curtsy Lunges

Works On: Quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, and calves

Steps

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your waist, shoulders rolled back, chest out, and look ahead. This is the starting position.
  • Place your left leg diagonally behind your right leg. Flex your knees and lower your body into a lunge.
  • Get back up and place your left leg back in its original position.
  • Do the same with the right leg to complete one repetition.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

8. Step-Ups

Works On: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core

Steps

  • Stand in front of a sturdy low box or bench. You can also use step-up boxes.
  • Step on the box/bench with your right leg.
  • Bring your left leg on top of the box/bench as well.
  • Step down with your right leg and then left.
  • Now, step on the box/bench with your left leg.
  • Bring your right leg on top of the box/bench.
  • Step down with your left leg first and then the right leg down. This completes one repetition.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

9. Jump Squats

Works On: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core

Steps

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, feet pointing out, shoulders rolled back, chest out, and hands by your sides. Look ahead. This is the starting position.
  • Bend your knees, push your hips out, and get into a squat position. Keep your hands clasped together in front of you.
  • Now, jump and straighten your legs. Simultaneously, throw your hands to the side to propel your body upwards.
  • Land softly on the floor and get back to the squat position again.
  • Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

10. Box Jumps

Works On: Quads, hamstrings, calves, and core.

Steps

  • Stand in front of a sturdy box about 15-25 inches high. Start with a box of lower height.
  • Stand about 6-8 inches away from the box.
  • Get into a half-sitting position and propel your body forward and up.
  • Land softly on the box. Take your time to balance your body on the high surface.
  • Jump back on the floor. Land softly.

Tip: You can start with stepping up and down the box instead of jumping to condition your body into gradually mastering box jumps.

  • Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

11. Plie Squats

Pile squats quad exercise at home

Shutterstock

Works On: Quads, hamstrings, adductors, calves, and glutes

Steps

  • Stand straight with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your shoulders rolled back, chest out, and look ahead. This is the starting position.
  • Push your hips out, flex your knees, and lower your body. Bring your hands together in front of your chest to balance your body. Feel the stretch in your quads, hammies, and inner thighs.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Get back up to the starting position.
  • Do this 3-5 times.

12. Quad Clenches

Works On: Quads and knees for rehabilitation and reducing knee pain

Steps

  • Sit on a mat or a sturdy bed. Keep your legs extended. Place one hand behind you to support your upper body.
  • Place a rolled towel under the injured knee.
  • Now, push your knee into the towel roll while contracting the quad muscles.
  • Hold for 3 seconds and relax.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

13. Quad Short Arcs

Works On: Quads and knees for rehabilitation and reducing knee pain

Steps

  • Sit on a mat or a sturdy bed. Keep your legs extended. Place one hand behind you to support your upper body.
  • Place a foam roll or a rolled towel under the injured knee. Make sure your ankle is touching the floor.
  • Without lifting your knee from the roll, straighten your lower leg (shin) as much as you can.
  • Direct your toes towards yourself. This will help activate the quad muscles and tendons attached to the knee.
  • Hold for 3 seconds and relax.
  • Do this 10 times twice a day.

14. Glute Bridge

Works On: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core

Steps

  • Lie down on your back. Keep your knees flexed, and feet flat on the floor. Push your lower back to the floor to prevent lumbar arching.
  • Lift your hips off the floor slowly.
  • Stop when your thighs and torso are in the same line.
  • Slowly lower your hips to the floor.
  • Do 3 sets of 5 reps.

15. Quad Foam Roller

Works On: Quads to release tightness

Steps

  • Lie down on a mat on your belly.
  • Place a foam roller underneath your right leg, closer to the knee.
  • Move your body up and down to massage the quads with the foam roller.
  • Do this for 2 minutes on each leg.

These are the 15 quad exercises you can do at home to build strong and toned legs. But there are a few safety precautions to take while doing these exercises. Here are the expert recommendations for quad exercises.

Safety Precautions

  • If you have knee pain and want to strengthen your quads, Jess Rose McDowell, a certified trainer, says, “If the knee pain is intense, I’d recommend pool exercises or swimming. You want to avoid blunt pressure on the knee.”
  • If you have arthritis, Siddharth Tambar,MD, says, “I would recommend a consultation with a musculoskeletal expert prior to engaging in leg extension exercises or even with higher weight leg-press exercises. Usually, most exercises can be performed safely at home if one is careful about starting at a lower repetition and intensity while being mindful of appropriate form.”
  • If you have pre-existing injuries or chronic knee or hip pain, Jack McNamara, MSc, CSCS, advises, “Avoid or adapt high-impact or unstable exercises, as well as ballistic exercises. When performed with good form, squats are fine – but plyometrics or box jumps are not.” He adds, “To successfully rehabilitate pain, you should first understand where it came from. While it can be tempting to self-diagnose, it’s a much safer idea to ask a professional to figure out what the issue is so that you can rehab safely and effectively.”

You can get strong and toned legs and improve your knee strength by doing these quad exercises at home. Besides quads, these exercises also work on your glutes, hamstrings, core, abductors, adductors, lower abs, and hip flexors. Avoid them if you have a knee injury or are recovering from knee surgery and go for swimming or pool exercises. If you have arthritis or any injury, consult a doctor before doing these exercises and do them under the supervision of a physical therapist. Most importantly, do warm-up exercises for at least a few minutes to prepare your body for the workout.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make my quads bigger without a leg extension?

Exercises such as reverse lunges, step-ups, and leg raises are great alternatives to leg extensions. Incorporate them in your workout to work on your quads.

How long do quads take to grow?

It takes about 2-3 weeks to notice subtle changes, while visible results only appear after about 4 months.

Is walking good for strengthening quads?

Possibly. Despite walking being good for your legs and working the hamstrings and quadriceps, it may not strengthen and build your quadriceps.

Is cycling good for quads?

Yes. Cycling targets the leg muscles and tones the quadriceps.

Key Takeaways

  • Quad exercises are a great way to effectively improve your athletic performance and knee stability and ease knee pain.
  • Squats, lunges, wall sits, step-ups, and jump squats are some of the quad exercises that you can do regularly.
  • It is advised to do these quad exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist if you have chronic pain, arthritis, or any injuries.

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