Quadriceps training is an important part of any strength program. You need to train your quads to handle heavy weights and multiple repetitions. Even if you’re just training for endurance, quad exercises are important for muscle building and overall health.
Barbells are the best tool for training your quads, thanks to their large plates and multiple handles. You can perform multiple exercises with a barbell, and you can use it to target all of your quad muscles.
Whether you want to improve your performance in the gym or just get stronger, here are 6 barbell exercises for the quadriceps muscles.
Barbell quad exercises
1. Front squat
The front squat is one of the most challenging exercises that you can perform in the gym, however, it is also a great fellow to help develop the lower back. One of the key aspects of performing a front squat is your ability to maintain a neutral spine, meaning don’t shift your weight forward with each rep.
Here is how you do this exercise:
- Start by placing a barbell on your shoulders, making sure that it is evenly balanced.
- Next, bend your knees and squat down, keeping your back straight and your head up.
- Once you reach the bottom of the squat, drive through your heels and return to the starting position.
It takes time and persistence to master the front squat, but you’ll be well rewarded for your hard work. Once you get the hang of it, there’s no doubt it will prove a valuable exercise both in terms of overall development and in helping to build up your core strength.
2. Barbell Lunge
The barbell lunge is an awesome exercise for building legs. It’s the perfect exercise to start your leg-building program, or even just to add to an existing workout routine. The barbell lunge has been a go-to exercise for variety and conditioning, but don’t let its simplicity fool you: the combination of hip extension, knee extension, and glute activation is highly effective.
Here is how you do a barbell lunge:
- Start by holding a barbell in a shoulder-width, overhand grip.
- Step forward with your left leg, keeping your right leg stationary.
- Lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Drive through your left heel to return to the starting position.
- Repeat with your right leg.
The barbell lunge is a great exercise for building up your legs. It’s also just plain fun, and you’ll know if you’re doing it correctly because the burn in your muscles will be immediate and intense. Don’t let the simplicity of this exercise fool you though: it’s effective and worth adding to your workout routine!
3. Cyclist Squat
The cyclist squat is a core exercise that gets your hips lower and reinforces your glutes. This exercise is a progressive exercise that progressively challenges your core and lower body. It’s a gentle exercise that also helps improve hip stability, preventing injury. It’s also a very challenging move to perform, so don’t give up if you can’t do it right away.
To do this exercise:
- Start by placing your heels on an elevated surface, such as a wedged board or steps.
- Separate your feet so that there is a gap of 4-6 inches between them.
- Keeping your chest up, squat down, and push your knees as far forward as possible.
The main advantage of the cyclist squat is that it develops and strengthens the glute muscles. This exercise can be performed almost anywhere, and it will improve your posture if you do it for a few minutes each day. The main problem with this exercise is that it’s hard to do properly, so make sure you use the correct form.
4. Barbell Landmine Squat
The barbell landmine squat is a great way to build stronger legs, gain strength for your push press and overhead press, increase the functional range of motion as well as improve the recruitment of muscles throughout the body.
To do barbell landmine squat:
- Set a barbell in a landmine or a corner.
- Step out so that the barbell is at hip level, and your feet are shoulder-width apart.
- Brace your core, and send your hips back as you lower down into a squat, keeping your chest up and your weight in your heels.
- Drive through your heels to stand back up to the starting position.
- Repeat for 8-10 reps.
Regardless of your fitness goals, the barbell landmine squat is a great exercise to add to your workout routine. You don’t need much space, you don’t need a lot of weight, and it can add a lot of variety to your leg workouts – since most people do bilateral movements for their legs. So, if you haven’t tried this variation before, we highly recommend you give it a shot!
5. Sumo Deadlift
The sumo deadlift is a great exercise for improving your overall strength and muscle mass. It targets your lower body and specifically your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Here is how you do the sumo deadlift correctly to get the most out of it.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed outwards.
- Bend down and grab the barbell with an overhand grip, keeping your hands less than shoulder width.
- Brace your core and drive through your heels to lift the bar, moving it close to your shins as you stand tall.
- Reverse the movement by bending at the knees and hips to lower the bar back down to the ground under control.
The sumo deadlift is a great exercise, but you need to do it right. Using proper form will make this move more effective and easier on your body so that you can get more out of it. By using proper form, you can do the sumo deadlift correctly to get stronger and lift more.
6. Barbell Bulgarian split squat
Barbell Bulgarian split squat is a great traditional exercise to target both the hips and legs. It can also be used as an assistance exercise for your leg presses or dips which makes it an excellent choice for homes that lack space inside their home gym. The neutral grip will allow you to work on both the upper and lower halves of your body, while also spreading your weight evenly across your feet.
Here is how you do this exercise:
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell in both hands at arm’s length.
- Place your right foot on top of an elevated surface behind you (such as a workout bench), and keep your left foot flat on the floor.
- Keeping your upper body upright, bend both knees to lower yourself down until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the ground- pause for 1 second
- Squeeze through glutes to raise back up to starting position
Barbell Bulgarian split squats are great additions to any fitness routine that you may already have in place, and they can provide you with the added benefits of increased flexibility, mobility, and an overall higher level of fitness. Give them a shot and see how they improve your lower half’s strength, power, and coordination in no time.
The quadriceps are a group of four muscles located on the front of the thigh. They work together to straighten the leg at the knee joint. The quadriceps are some of the strongest muscles in the human body and play an important role in many activities, such as walking, running, and jumping.
The Rectus Femoris
The rectus femoris is one of four muscles that make up your quads. It is located on the front and middle part of your thigh. This muscle has two jobs:
- It helps you extend or straighten your leg at your knee joint and
- It assists with hip flexion (bringing your thigh toward your chest). The rectus femoris gets its name from its long, strap like shape — “rectus” means “straight” in Latin (‘femur’ meaning ‘thigh bone’).
The Vastus Lateralis
The vastus lateralis is the largest and most powerful muscle in your quads. It is located on the outside (lateral) part of your thigh. This muscle helps you extend or straighten your leg at the knee joint (‘vastus’ meaning ‘great’).
The Vastus Medialis
The vastus medialis is located on the inside (medial) part of your thigh, just below the rectus femoris. Like all other muscles in your quads, it also helps you extend or straighten your leg at the knee joint. However, it has an additional job: stabilizing the kneecap (patella). The patella sits in a groove on top of this muscle and can easily become dislodged if not kept in place (‘medi-‘ meaning ‘middle’).
The Vastus Intermedius
The vastus intermedius is located between the rectus femoris and the other two muscles in your quads (vastus lateralis and medialis). It also attaches to the kneecap (‘inter-‘ meaning ‘between’). This muscle helps you extend or straighten your leg at the knee joint.
The key to giving your legs the workout they deserve is to try out as many different muscle-building exercises as you can. As you will see from this article, there are plenty of great options for building up and toning your muscles. For best results, it is recommended that you do 3 sets of 8-12 reps for these barbell quad exercises.