Among the powerful muscles in the body is the quadriceps. A good Quad Workout will strengthen these muscles that bend & straighten the knees. For the muscles around the knees to extend easily, the quadriceps have to be strong and flexible. This will allow people to do activities like walking, running, jumping, squatting, climbing and cycling easily.
What are quadriceps?
Quadriceps or quad muscles are four muscles that are found at the side of the thighs. When in an upright standing position, the quad muscles can be seen from the knees down to the lower legs tibia bones and femur bones.
Benefits of the Quadriceps
Here are some of the functions and benefits of the quad muscles:
• It helps you bend and straighten your knees
• The muscles allow your body to absorb shock when landing on the feet
• It removes pressure from knees because of its delicate nature. The knees have a tendency to sustain injury as a result of aging and osteoarthritis effect.
• Quad muscles allow you to jump off and lift off the ground
• The muscles help the hips to be flexible and stabilizes the pelvis
• Quad muscles assist with the balance and coordination of the bones
• It aids sporting activities. It is responsible for quick direction changes
Injuries that are common with Quad Muscles
Almost every part of the body makes use of the quad muscles. When a person sustains a quad injury, you won’t be able to work for several weeks.
• Injuries arise as a result of wear and tear of the quadriceps. This happens when a person engages in sporting activities, dancing and running for a long period of time.
• Focusing on exercising other areas of the legs that do not benefit the quadriceps
• Weakness on the ankles and knees from lifting heavy weights
Negative consequences of quad muscle injuries:
The side effect of the injuries affecting the quad muscles include:
• Acute pain around the injured knee
• Pain around the kneecap which worsens during exercise, squatting and when you climb the stairs
• Developing bad posture when exercising
• The tendency to sprain and twist the ankles
• Contusions as a result of quad muscle damage sustained during sports
Safe steps to take for an injured quadriceps
Many professionals usually advise patients with quad injuries to have some rest. It takes about one to two months for a quad injury to heal properly. When running, it is advisable to slow down to reduce the pain you feel on the quad muscles.
People with injured quads are to avoid doing any strenuous activities that will make them feel pain in the affected area. They are also to avoid doing sports that will put pressure on their legs.
If a person has a quad injury, they can do strength training exercises to help their back area. They can also do stretching exercises and swimming which will not cause pain or further injury to be sustained. To make the quad injury heal up faster, one should drink a lot of liquid and get enough rest. You can then go back to exercising when your legs feel light and there is no more pain.
As much as it is important for the quad muscles to be strong for balance and stability, it is also important to stretch other muscles. You can stretch the other muscles around the legs such as the hips, hamstrings, ankles, and glutes. If you pay too much attention to the quad muscles only, the person will develop “knee dominance”. This condition is what fitness experts refer to as poor posture due to overworking of the knees. This happens when you do a lot of squatting, jumping and lunging exercises. If you also concentrate on other leg areas and avoid the quad muscles, it will also cause problems.
Best Exercises and Stretches for Quad Muscles
Tips for doing Quadricep workout:
• Before you start quad exercises, it is important to do stretching exercises first for about three to five minutes. You can do quad exercises two to three times weekly. The exercise routine should include squats, step-ups, and lunges.
• Another thing to include in quad exercises is adding hamstrings like leg curls and stiff-legged deadlifts to your routine. It would help you with balance.
• When doing quad exercises, take a rest for one or two days to avoid overworking the muscles.
• To get the best results, repeat the quad exercises eight to twelve times for each exercise. You can add more weight to the exercise but you would need to reduce the number of repetitions to gain strength.
After each exercise, do stretching exercises for 15 to 30 seconds.
– Stretch for 3 to 5 minutes before quad exercise
– Do two to three of the exercises mentioned below
– Add one to two hamstring exercise to the routine
– Repeat each exercise 8 to 12 times and do 2 to 3 of the quad exercises
– In the cardio workout, pick one quad-friendly cardio technique below
– After exercise, do two to three quad stretches
QUAD FRIENDLY STRENGTH TRAINING
Doing squats can add strength to your knees, legs and core areas. Squatting has a lot of techniques like:
– loaded and unloaded squats
– doing squats with arms placed over the head
– squats using chair or wall as support
– Yoga technique squat like chair pose etc.
You can start squatting by standing on your feet. Your feet should be at a hip distance and should not cave in. The pelvis should be slightly tucked in and your weight should be on your heels. Go down in a squatting position like you are about to sit on a chair with your buttocks protruded. Your upper body or back should be upright and straight. Do this exercise for about 10 to twenty times. While squatting, your thighs should be slightly above the ground.
Your feet should be hip apart when in a standing position. Make sure there is enough space in front of you when doing lunges so you can move forward. Move forward using your right foot and then you lunge down. Do not let your knee stretch beyond your ankles and ensure that all your body weight falls on your heels. After this, you can then go back to your original position using your heel to push off. Do this technique at least 10 to 20 times.
When doing lunges, ensure your back is straight and keep a good posture. You can include dumbells when doing lunges.
3. Leg Presses
This involves the use of a weight machine for resistance. Use your feed to hold up the weighted platform at an angle 90-degree position. Press it till your legs are fully outstretched in front of you. Go back to your initial position and do the exercise for at least 6 to 10 times.
This is also referred to as squat thrust. First, you stand up and then squat placing your hands on the floor. Push out your feet backwards and land in a plank position with your arms outstretched. Go back again to your squat position and then back again standing up position. Do this exercise repeatedly 10 times.
5. Step-ups or Box Jumps
Ensure that your weight remains sturdy on anything you step on. You start this exercise by standing on your feet at a hip distance. Use your right foot to step on the bench in a way that it would be with your left foot. Do this about 10 to 20 times. You can also add weight to your hands for more balance.
1. Sprints and HIIT exercises
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) exercises include sprints and other leg movements that are beneficial to the cardiovascular system. You can do HIIT exercises on treadmills, on the field, on an elliptical and even when you are doing resistance training. What this exercise does is to speed up your heart rate in a short time and then you rest briefly. You can repeat HIIT workouts for 5 to 10 times for muscle building.
2. Backward walking on a treadmill
You can walk backward on a treadmill or on the ground to work on your quad muscles. This will help you gain muscle mass and add strength to your quad.
This is one of the best exercises you can do to add strength to your quads. You can practice cycling by doing hill climbing.
1. Form Rolling
This exercise can be done by lying down with your quads on a foam roller placed on the ground. You move back and forth with your hands on areas that are tender for an interval of 30 to 90 seconds. For a recent injury, if you feel pain after doing this, go and check with your doctor to know if you can continue this exercise.
2. Standing One-legged Stretch
While standing up, bend one of your legs upwards and grab the foot. Try and stretch the foot to reach your back and hold it for about 15 to 30 seconds.
3. Kneeling Lunge Stretch
When doing this exercise, kneel with one leg forward in an angle 90 position. Ensure your pelvis is tucked and then lung forward gently. Lean forward slowly with your hands placed on your front knee. You can add stretching exercise to work on the core areas of your body by lifting your arms above your head. Then move your hips forward and lower by an inch. Stay in the lunge position for about 30 seconds and repeat the exercise three times on each side.
The four muscles that make up the quadriceps are very strong muscles and they work to keep the knees strong and flexible. Quads will assist you in activities like running, cycling, climbing, squatting and lifting off the floor.
Most times injuries caused on the quad muscles are the weakness of the muscles, overworking your muscles, dehydration, and not stretching your legs. Other causes also include muscular compensations caused by bad posture and heat exhaustion.
You can avoid problems like pain on the knees by strengthening your quadriceps and doing workouts to correct your posture.
From the pages of Boxlifemagazine.com: Strengthening the Quads—How & Why it Matters
15 Min Leg Workout for Women Home Exercises
A helpful article by WebMd: Quadriceps Strain