Quads Workout To Develop Stronger Legs

Unilateral resistance band leg press
(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

This quads workout will boost your thighs to give you stronger legs and a platform for overall muscle gains. Expand your training repertoire with this quad workout, too.

Quads Workout Instructions

Leave two to three days between each workout to let your muscles recover. You can do just these workouts or add them into a longer gym session. Warm up for this workout with five minutes on a rowing machine, then two warm-up sets of the first exercise with 50% then 75% of normal weight. Rest for two to three minutes between exercises in this workout.

1 Dumbbell squat

After your warm-up, add weight to the dumbbells to hit your legs and core.

Sets 3 Reps 10

Target: quads, glutes, hamstrings

Why it works: The dumbbell squat forces you to use both legs equally when you drive up and requires you to use your core to stabilise the separate weights, an effect that’s reduced when you use a barbell. Remember, squats engage your abs and lower back muscles and require a strong upper body, so your entire body benefits.

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Squat down, keeping your back neutral and your shoulders back.
  • Stop when your thighs are level with the floor and drive back up.

2 Unilateral stretch band leg press

Sets 3  Reps 10 each side

Target: quads

Why it works:
 Because you’re lying on the floor this exercise takes the load off your lower back, allowing you to hold the peak contraction at the top of the exercise for each leg in turn without stressing your spine.

  • Lie on your back with one end of a heavy resistance stretch band in each hand.
  • Bend the left knee and raise the left foot up towards you so that you can loop the band under your foot.
  • Now press the leg away from you, keeping your back flat on the floor.

3 Front barbell squat

Finally, you can lift serious weight for serious muscle gains.

Sets 3  Reps 10

Target: quads, glutes, hamstrings 

Why it works: You can lift more weight on a barbell than any other piece of kit, so this move maximises your muscle growth. Keeping your torso upright puts less stress on the lower back and more emphasis on the quads. 

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, resting a barbell on the front of your shoulders with your palms facing the ceiling and elbows pointing straight ahead.
  • Squat, keeping your lower back neutral and your shoulders back. 
  • Stop when your thighs are horizontal, then drive back up.

4 Quads stretch

Do this stretch regularly to keep your quads supple and injury-protected.

Stand upright and with feet together and shoulders back. Hold your right ankle with your right hand and draw your heel into your backside, keeping your right hip forwards. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, then swap sides and repeat.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.