Top 5 Exercises to Build Big Quads

If you’re looking to increase the size and strength of your quads, then there are some simple, yet effective exercises and techniques you can use to build bigger quads. Building bigger quads requires a combination of progressive overload, proper nutrition, and persistence.

The first thing to ask yourself, why do you need big quads? In most cases, you’ll want to build the size of the quadriceps for aesthetic reasons, so we’ll assume that this is mostly useful to bodybuilders. In terms of athletic performance, big quadriceps do not necessarily correlate to strong or functional quadriceps. For example, having big quadriceps may not correlate to being a good long-distance cyclist. Big is not necessarily strong, or does not necessarily equate to endurance.

Building big means eating a lot, and exercising a lot. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of time and persistence. We do see a lot of athletes come in as current or former steroid users, and we never recommend the use of steroids or growth hormones to increase bulk. Natural is best – use good nutrition. Steroid use is very common.

For those who do want to build big quads, let’s look at some great exercises:

1. Squats: Squats are one of the best exercises for building bigger quads. It is important to ensure that your form is correct when performing squats in order to maximize their effectiveness. To properly perform a squat, open your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, and bend your knees to the full squat (90 degrees) position. Your feet can be pointing directly forwards, or turned out slightly. Make sure you keep the middle of your knee-cap in line with the middle toes of your foot. Always keep your feet flat on the ground. Repeat 10 to 15 reps, for three sets.

2. Lunges: Lunges are another great exercise for building bigger quads. Similar to squats, ensure that you are using proper form. Take a step forwards, and bend the front knee past the vertical. The back knee drops towards the floor. Always keep good alignment: your knee should stay over the 2nd ray of your foot, and never let your knee drop inwards. Repeat 10 to 15 reps, for three sets each side.

3. Leg Press (Single or Double Leg): The Leg Press is a great machine-based exercise for building bigger quads. Sit on a leg press machine, with your foot facing upwards (your therapist might ask you to turn your foot either facing outwards or inwards depending on a particular muscle group to be worked), and slowly straighten your leg. When your leg is fully straight, return to the start position. This exercise predominantly strengthens the quadricep muscle group (at the front of your thigh). Repeat 10 to 15 reps, for three sets.

4. Split Squat: Similar to a lunge, the split squat loads the quads. Take a step forwards (as if you were going into a lunge), and drop the back knee towards the ground. The front knee stays at 90 degrees, but does not go forwards of that point. Always keep good alignment... your knee should stay over the 2nd ray of your foot, and never let your knee drop inwards. Return to the start position. Repeat 10 to 15 reps, for three sets.

5. Bulgarian Split Squat with Dumbbells: Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Place one foot on a chair or bench behind you, and the other flat on the floor. Go into a squat position by bending your knee as far as comfortable. Make sure you keep your knee in line with the middle of your foot, do not let your knee drift outwards or inwards. Then straighten your leg to the start position. This is a strengthening exercise for your quadricep muscle group located at the front of your thigh, but also strengthens a number of other muscles in the leg. Repeat 10 to 15 reps, for three sets, each side

In addition to these exercises, it is important to ensure that you are getting adequate nutrition and rest in order to build bigger quads. Eating a balanced diet that is rich in protein, and avoid processed foods and fizzy nasty drinks like cola and Redbull. Avoid excess caffeine use. Avoid steroids (we see a lot of athletes come to see us that take steroids).

(Physios and Therapists: these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises Patients: if you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page. Follow us on Instagram: @surreyphysio or Facebook