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Thigh muscles are the largest muscles in the human body. Their degree of development has a significant impact on an athlete’s strength, endurance, and physical fitness level in general. Besides, by performing leg exercises in the gym, the athlete has a positive impact on the health of the genitourinary system and reduces the load on knee and hip joints.
Anatomy and quadriceps functions
The quadriceps muscle of the thigh consists of four bundles of muscles, but in the exercises, the load is placed on the quadriceps as a whole. Only minor shifts in accents are possible. The main functions performed by this muscle group:
- Static, or holding the body in an upright position. It is the quadriceps that is responsible for ensuring that the knee joint is not mowed while standing.
- Dynamic provides knee stability when walking, jumping, running. The dynamic function also manifests itself in bending and stretching the legs, pulling the knees to the stomach, tilting the pelvis.
Quadriceps (quadriceps femoris) is the largest muscle in the body that occupies the entire front of the thigh. Her task is to straighten the knee joint. The strength of the quadriceps allows you to support body weight and walk straight. With a static load, the quadriceps muscle holds the knee in the right position, and in dynamics it straightens the leg, allowing you to walk or run. Quadriceps consists of four heads: internal, middle, external, and straight. Each of the muscle heads is attached to the pelvic area, going down; intertwined, they form a strong tendon near the knee. Pumping up the quadriceps is not difficult, because it involves the knee joint and is an extremely strong muscle, you only need to give a sufficient amount of load in training. Most often, it is the front surface of the thigh that swings faster and easier than other muscles. For athletes, men can see this best, they just do not fit into jeans and trousers. The main exercise for the quadriceps is barbell squats. It should be noted that there are some nuances. If the athlete has the wrong technique for performing the exercise, then his buttocks will begin to grow, and only then the front surface of the thigh. It is very important to learn how to properly train the quadriceps so as not to damage the knees. If you want to work only on the quadriceps, do the following exercises: squats with a barbell on your chest, leg press with narrow legs, hack squats in a narrow stance. Do not forget that you also need to develop the adductor muscles and biceps of the thigh along with the buttocks, which are so necessary when doing squats. I strongly advise you to develop your legs harmoniously, without pumping quadriceps, which can lead to lumbar lordosis. Depending on the level of load received by the quadriceps during training, its recovery can take from 4 days, and after intensive training, it is necessary to rest on average 7 days.
- The lateral thigh muscle is the largest of all thigh muscles. It forms its lateral surface and is involved in all movements associated with the leg’s extension in the knee.
- The medial broad thigh muscle forms the inner surface of the femur and forms a roundness on the inner side of the knee. Like the lateral muscle, it participates in the exercises which are essentially knee extension exercises.
- The intermediate wide hip muscle is located between the lateral and medial muscles and is partially hidden under their edges in the area of attachment to the patella. It takes part in knee extension and is involved in running, jumping, and squatting.
- The straight thigh muscle is the longest of the quadriceps muscles. It is located on its front part, on top of the others, and gives a rounded shape. It’s the only muscle that’s not attached to the femur bone. It is not only involved in bending, but also in bending the legs.
Important: the thigh quadriceps consists of fast and slow muscle fibers, so for harmonious muscle development, you need to perform not only strength exercises but also aerobic and static.
Basic quadriceps exercises
To develop strength, endurance, and muscle fiber growth, quadriceps training must be based on basic exercises. They use the maximum number of muscles and ligaments, and ideally, take up about 70% of all training exercises.
Squats with a barbell
Undoubtedly one of the best basic exercises. Perfectly develops quadriceps and buttock muscles, involving the muscles of the back, the press, and the rear thigh. The efficiency of squats is proportional to their complexity and traumatism, so you should not take a heavyweight without having worked out the technique beforehand:
- The vulture is located on the trapezes or the back parts of deltas and trapezes – by no means on the neck;
- The back is straight, the blades are tight, so the weight is evenly distributed. Tilting forward overloads the lumbar spine and leads to injury in this area. To avoid the temptation to bend, the chin always looks up;
- The steps are slightly wider than the shoulders, but you can put them even wider for comfort and balance. The socks are separated to the sides;
- The movement does not start with the knees, but with the pelvis backward. Imagine that your task is to sit on a chair;
- Your knees remain stationary, they never go out behind your socks. Otherwise, knee injuries cannot be avoided;
- You should sit down to the parallel of the rear thigh surface with the floor, but you can also sit lower. The deeper you sit, the more the buttock muscle is used. Ho if the athlete aims to train the quadriceps muscle of the hip, it is sufficient to sit down to a right angle.
- Get up from the squat smoothly, without jerks, and in no case do not carry the center of gravity on your socks. At the upper point of the legs are not fully straightened, the knee to the end of the approach is slightly bent – this reduces the risk of injury.
Important: When performing this exercise, do not take your maximum weight. Too much weight mainly burdens the buttocks muscles. For the harmonious development of the quadriceps, it is sometimes necessary to replace squats with frontal squats on the shoulders.
This exercise is similar to the previous one, but the different position of the barbell shifts the emphasis from gluteal muscles to the quadriceps. The technique is the same, only the position of the barbell changes:
- The grip is straight and the arms are slightly wider than the shoulders;
- The bent arms are raised so that their upper parts are parallel to the floor;
- The neckline lies on the front of the shoulders;
- The seating is done in the same way as with the barbell on the shoulders.
Squats in the gakk-trainer work mainly quadriceps and reduce the load on the back. The Lumbar in this exercise is pressed against a movable platform, hands are held by handrails, and legs are placed on an inclined platform. The width of the feet can be further accentuated on the side of the hips.
- The exercise is performed smoothly and measured;
- At the upper point, the knees are not fully extended;
- It is the quadriceps that must be loaded and not the knee joints;
- You must not round your chest and knees beyond the line of socks.
Pushing your legs in the simulator.
A basic exercise that allows you to work on the leg muscles with more weight while relieving the load co back. The impact of this exercise on the quadriceps is achieved with narrow feet.
- Lumbar while performing the exercise is well pressed to the seat to avoid serious injuries;
- The knees in the upper point are not fully inflated and in the lower point almost touch the chest, forming a right angle;
- Wide foot position with toe dilution to the side emphasizes the inner thigh surface;
This exercise can be done in different variants: with dumbbells, co barbell, and in Smith simulator. For all-round and harmonious muscle development, these variants should be alternated from workout to workout. The exercise has the greatest effect after performing other basic exercises, such as squats.
- The steps are parallel to slightly wider thighs;
- The step should be wide enough that the leg, bent in the knee, forms a right angle to the floor;
- The knee must not extend beyond the line of the toe and “walk”, it must remain stationary to avoid injury;
- The knee of the hind leg must be as close to the floor as possible, but not touching it;
- The crouch should be lifted with the quadriceps as tight as possible.
Important: when the barbell falls out, the neck and torso must be held in the same way as in squats. When using dumbbells, the arms are parallel to the body, they do not move during the exercise.
Isolating quadriceps exercises
Isolation exercises will not give an increase in muscle mass, will not develop strength or endurance, but their inclusion in training is necessary to “finish” this or that muscle, drawee, make it more embossed.
Foot curls in the simulator
This exercise works well on the quadriceps, drawing mainly the front thigh surface. When performing this exercise, it is not necessary to work with heavyweight, because the load on the knee joint is quite high.
- You have to stretch your legs to parallel with the floor;
- Lumbar is tightly pressed to the seat;
- Exercise should be done slowly, feeling the muscle you’re working on. Rapid “swaying” by inertia makes the exercise meaningless;
- The number of repetitions is greater than in basic exercises;
- The feeling of burning muscle is the right indicator.
Push with one foot.
By pressing in the simulator with one foot, you give an isolated load on the quadriceps. The technique is similar to the classic press. At the beginning of the exercise, the feet must be placed in the center of the platform, after which one foot is removed.
- The maximum weight is not necessary, for better pumping (filling with blood) it is reasonable to perform more repetitions;
- The lower is the foot on the platform, the more emphasis is placed on the quadriceps;
- This exercise will have the best effect when performed at the very end of the foot training.
An important part of leg training is muscle stretching. The absence of stretching exercises deprives the fibers of elasticity, prevents their growth, and slows down progress.