5 Outer Quad Exercises
Your outer quads aren’t getting enough love! To be fair, few people actually know how to, or how important it is, to exercise your outer quads.
These muscles help with stabilization and control when it comes to other exercises, and overall they’re just really neglected in many workouts. It’s time to change that.
These exercises focus primarily on your outer quads and help you put some prowess back into an ignored muscle group.
Most of these are beginner-friendly and can be modified to reduce the intensity or difficulty until you’re ready to amp things up. Let’s take a look.
#1 Leg Extensions
This is a great exercise for beginners that aren’t comfortable with the squat rack, and it still works out your outer quads pretty well. You have to have a leg extension machine to do this.
- Ready your leg extension machine to make sure the pad is comfortable, your seat is comfortable and optimized for you to continue this exercise for as many reps as possible
- Grab the handles while you put your legs into position, and raise your legs up; you never want to hit a full 90-degree angle, so be sure to taper-off as your knees still have a bit of bend to them (think 80 degrees or so)
- When you reach the peak of your leg raise, hold off for a few seconds and focus on breathing; beginners can take in one full deep breath and let it go before proceeding to the next step, more advanced users may breathe in during the leg raise and hold their breath at the peak
- Exhale as you lower the weight back down to its starting position, where you feel little to no tension on your legs
- The key here is to focus on breathing and gradually increasing the weight as you see fit, your breathing practices should flow with the exercise to help build up a good rhythm
This is the machine everyone runs to when they think of the phrase “Don’t skip leg day”, but apart from just being some form of leg exercise, this will train those outer quads better than most other machines and methods.
#2 Front Squat
While this may feel a bit uncomfortable compared to other squats, the front squat is massive for training your outer quads.
The uncommon angle really targets key areas of your outer quads that help with growth. This is how you do it:
- Rack the barbell and get underneath it, with the bar itself resting on top of your shoulders while you squat
- Your fingertips should be under the bar as well; achieve this by bringing your elbows forward so they’re pointing out (in a comfortable position), ensuring that your elbows are spaced to match your shoulders
- Gently unrack the bar and take a step forward
- Ensure your feet are wide enough apart that you’re comfortable with the weight and aren’t inhibiting your ability to stand up (tip: your ability to stand wide indicates physical prowess, so don’t be afraid to test it out every once in a while and stand with your feet further apart for balance)
- Take a deep breath into your diaphragm, keep your torso nice and tight, and steel yourself for the next step
- Squat down (remember bend at the knees, not the back), push your hips back just a little, and try to squat as deeply as you can without hitting the floor
- Push-off with your heels to stand up; take it slow enough that you don’t hurt yourself, but the goal is to be abrupt and raise the barbell as fast as you can
- Now it’s time to see how many reps you can do before calling it quits for the day. Repeat these steps and stay in the zone.
#3 Sissy Squat
It’s not the most attractive title for an exercise, but it gets the job done. The sissy squat is a handicapped squat where you hold onto a structure with one arm while squatting almost all the way.
- It works, even if it isn’t the most impressive thing for people to see you doing at the gym.
- Begin by holding onto the edge of a larger machine or something where you can get a good grip, and begin by stepping up on your tiptoes (you can also place an object underneath your feet, like a weight, but it’s optional)
- While holding on, bend your knees down and engage your core; your toes are bent and raising your heel up because you want your hips to come back far enough that they produce a straight line from your hips down to your feet
- Lower yourself deeper into the squat as much as possible, while your other hand rests on your hip; your upper body still needs to be in a straight line to get the full effect of this workout
- When you hit the deepest point of your squat, lower your heels so that you’re in a proper squatting position; if you had weights under your heels to help elevate them, gently move your feet forward and push the weights out of the way or modify this portion of the exercise if need be
- Safely stand back up from the squatting position until you are standing, take in a deep breath, exhale it, and repeat
Sissy squats are actually very powerful at training your outer quads, although you’ll also see some benefits to your lower abdomen, calves, hamstrings, and you will build better breath control as well.
#4 Leg Press
Another machine that focuses on your outer quads is the leg press machine. It also works out the lower abdomen and other areas of the legs, but with this exercise, you’ll be able to pinpoint those outer quads while seeing the benefits in other parts of your body.
- Get comfortable on the rest with your knees bent, and make sure you bend your feet flat against the platform
- Use the latch to unlock the platform, then push it up/forward as much as possible until your knees are at about that 80 degree angle; again, you don’t want your knees to be completely straight here or you can overstretch your knees
- You should hold the top position for a while, preferably for about three to five seconds, and then begin to lower it slowly
- Bend your knees as much as they can go while the platform descends, with the goal of eventually being able to bend your knees up to your chest; this will increase the maximum amount of pressure when you push back up and help you evolve this exercise as time goes on
- Push from your heels and send the platform back up/forward, transferring that pressure into your legs as it goes, and push until the platform is raised again; repeat this on a loop for as many reps as possible
Working out your legs can be difficult, but thankfully machines like the leg press are extremely helpful and make working out those outer quads a complete breeze over squats.
#5 Goblet Squats
While these are designed for your arms and abdominal region, the extra weight and way that you squat can really impact your outer quads.
- Put your feet apart slightly wider than the distance between your hips
- Hold a kettlebell (or safely hold a rubberized dumbbell end) with both of your hands, at chest level, gripping the weight as if you were holding a goblet; be sure to bend your elbows so it stays near the chest height
- Engage your core and keep it tight, then bend down into a squat with your back completely aligned (you don’t want to put this pressure on your back), and bend with your knees
- Keep your head and neck straight and look forward during your exercise to avoid pressure on the spine
- While bending down, keep your hips back just a little bit, and squat down as much as possible before rising back up slowly; keep the weight close to your body without it touching your chest throughout the squat
- You should aim to squat so that your hips are lower than your knees, although this can take some time, so evolve this exercise as much as possible without hurting yourself
- When you steadily rise, be sure that your chest is straight the entire time; you should feel the pressure on the middle of your feet as you rise back up
- Return to the starting position, and repeat
Goblet squats target multiple muscle groups, so while you’re working out your outer quads, you’re also getting a leaner stomach and bulkier arms at the same time.
You can modify the weight in your goblet squats as you progress, although keeping it at/under 40 lbs is recommended so you don’t apply too much weight to delicate positions during the exercise.