Everything You Need to Know about Your Quadriceps Muscles

The quadriceps muscles have many functions, such as ensuring the movement of the human body, its balance, mobility, and strength development. What are these muscles and where are they located?
Everything You Need to Know about Your Quadriceps Muscles

Last update: 26 April, 2019

The quadriceps muscles are among the most important in the human body. Their development guarantees, to a large extent, the mobility and support of the rest of the body. The power and size of this muscle group are pillars for the body’s basic actions.

Why are they called quadriceps muscles?

The denomination arises from the combination of four muscles that make up the quadriceps. They all run through the thigh area and converge on the patellar tendon, responsible for its attachment to the tibia.

Rectus femoris

It begins in the pelvis and crosses the thigh in front of the vastus intermedius. It covers part of the medialis and lateralis vasti.

Vastus medialis

This specifically entails the part that goes to the inner side of the thigh. It originates broadly at the lower medial end and inserts into the patella and tibia.

Vastus lateralis

The vastus lateralis or externus is the third component of the quadriceps muscles. It starts in the upper and anterolateral part of the femur and it’s seen on the outer side of the thigh.

Vastus intermedius

This is the deepest of the four muscles. Its location is between the vastus medialis and the lateralis. Its origin is in most of the anterior and lateral sides of the femur.

The quadriceps is made up of four muscles.
Image: powerexplosive.com

Quadriceps muscles: their main functions

What do we use these muscles for in our exercises and on a day-to-day basis? These would be the main functions:

Body displacement using the quadriceps muscles

The quadriceps muscles participate in all the displacement that takes place in each routine exercise. Activities as simple as walking, jumping, running, or sitting is possible thanks to their strength and power.


The legs manage to perform various rotations through the laterali and medialis vasti. Flexing our knee is possible due to their participation. As we can see, these muscles serve both concentric and eccentric work, that is, with knee extensions or muscle contractions.

Knee and hip extender

The quadriceps muscles facilitate the flexion of the knees and hips. Stretching the leg to the point of being totally vertical is one of these functions.

Additionally, one of their components starts in the pelvis and has an important role in hip movement. Its participation allows you to bring the thigh to the chest.


Their union to the knee favors the body’s balance and stability. Well-exercised quadriceps muscles allow the patella to remain firm and stable since they are inserted on each side of it; thus, providing security and support.

The quadriceps muscles ensure our balance and stability.

Exercises to strengthen the quadriceps muscles

To enhance and tone these muscles, there are some specific exercises we can perform:

Wall sit squat

The starting position is resting your straight back against the wall, during the basic squat movement. Place your feet farther than the rest of your body, so that the knees don’t exceed their direction when flexing.

Once in place, with your thighs parallel to the ground, you have to hold the position for 8 seconds and return back up. The whole muscle group activates at the same time.

Wall sit squats activate the whole muscle group.

It’s advisable to add different types of squat variations to these kinds of wall exercises. The levels of complexity change in relation to the experience and capacity of each person. Thus, we can make them more demanding with weights, rhythms, and difficulty.

Lunges to strengthen the quadriceps muscles

Lunges are made in a single spot or you can displace yourself. The initial position is to stand with your feet semi-separated, but not as much as the width of your shoulders. One leg advances and the other remains in place, with your heels off the ground.

Then, lower your entire body without bending the torso or allowing the knee to touch the ground. Finally, lift your body to return to the initial position and repeat with the other leg.

Lunges are an effective exercise.

Most common quadriceps muscle injuries

Excessive stretching of the fibers or a blow are the most common causes of injuries in this area. We classify them depending on the level of severity:

  • Different grades of contusions: the symptoms are swelling, pain, and bruises.
  • Muscle tear: it can be partial or complete, and usually involves acute pain, increased sensitivity, and bruising.
  • Ossifying myositis: a disease that mainly causes bones to form inside the muscle.

As we’ve seen, the care and exercise of the quadriceps muscles are vital to maintaining our training routine and for optimal health. Why don’t you try these workouts and confirm their benefits?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.