In my latest YouTube video, I share with you some strategies to target your quadriceps while performing squats.
1. Regular Squats
Performing regular squats is a great way to target the quadriceps, as they are responsible for performing knee extension. When performing regular squats, you typically want to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, brace your core, and sit back into the squat until you knees are approximately 90 degrees. Slowly raise your body to a standing position and finish the movement by squeezing your glutes and your quads.
There are many variations to performing regular squats, and changing up your stance width will change the muscles that are being activated throughout the squat. This is true, however there are some misconceptions about stance width and quad activation.
MYTH: Narrow Squats will Build the Quadriceps More than Other Stances
It is true that when we take a narrow stance during squats, the most active muscle is the quadriceps muscle, however, it is no more active during a narrow squat than during a normal squat or a wide squat. The difference between these three squat stances is that a narrow stance targets less muscles, while a wider stance recruits more muscles to perform the movement. What this means is that when we take a narrow stance, the other muscles that help to perform a squat are less active than when we take a wide stance. Therefore, stance width does not make the quads “more active”, rather it influences the number of muscles that are active. Therefore, your quads produce the same amount of force regardless of the stance you take, so opt for the stance width that feels the most comfortable. Depending on your goal, if you want to target less muscles, a narrow stance is the better option, but if you want to target more muscles, a wide stance is the better option.
2. Goblet Squats
In order to load the quads during squats it is important to shift the load forward, by front-loading the body. A goblet squat is a great squat variation to shift the load to the front of the body, increasing the work performed by the quadriceps. This squat variation is very versatile, as you can us a dumbbell or even a medicine ball to front load your squat.
3. Front Loaded Barbell Squat
Another option to load your squat is to use a barbell, however to target the quads, you should perform front-loaded barbell squats. Since the barbell is placed in front of the body, it displaces the load forward, forcing the quadriceps to work harder to resist that load. The benefits of front-loading squats is that it reduces the force placed on the knees, so this is a great squat variation for those who have knee issues.
4. Elevating Heels During Squat
If you are more advanced, elevating the heels could be an option for you to target your quads during a squat. To elevate your heels, choose something stable to put your heels on, such as a plate (or two plates). Elevating the heels not only shifts the load forward, but it also changes your body mechanics of the movement, as it limits the amount of hip flexion you perform, while increasing the amount of knee flexion that you perform. Since the quad’s primary movement is knee extension, elevating your heels helps to increase the range of motion of the quadriceps muscle, helping to target the quads. As a safety precaution, this exercise should be performed by individuals who are more advanced and do NOT have knee issues.
5. Leg Press Machine
To target your quads on a leg press machine, you simply lower you feet on the leg press machine. This changes your body mechanics similarly to front-loading a squat, therefore increasing the stress placed on the quads.
I hope this video was informative & helpful! Best of luck to you on your own health journey.