There are so many quad exercises, but which ones should you be focusing your efforts on if you want to build bigger quads and increase your strength? In this video, I’m going to give you the most popular quad exercises ranked from worst to best and help you to determine which you should be doing and which you can probably ditch.
With that said, we have to lay out the criteria for the quad exercise selections. These are in the video.
Furthermore, if there is a steep learning curve to the movement or it is too equipment reliant then it may mot rank as high as some other options that are better and also don’t require as many resources.
With that being said, we start laying out the list and work our way up the rankings from the worst chest exercise to the best chest exercise.
1. Sissy Squat
2. Smith Machine Squats
The sissy squat is one of the better exercises you can do to strengthen the tendons in your knees given the proper progression, but it is a weak exercise choice for trying to build to quads. The lack of overload in this exercise is one of the biggest drawbacks for creating hypertrophy.
The smith machine squat is probably the worst version of a squat you can do. The fixed nature of the movement does not allow for an individual’s proper biomechanics to come into play. Angled or straight, you’re better off avoiding this version of the squat if you can
3. Drop Squats
4. Goblet Squats
5. Heavy Resistance Bike (Hill Riding)
6. Leg Extensions
Drop squats are great for learning the proper mechanics of a squat, but do are limited in the ability to sufficiently load the exercise.
Goblet squats are great for a more metabolic pursuit of hypertrophy but the limit in load based on available weight as well as your thoracic mobility / strength will play a limiting factor into the exercise as well.
You’d be hard pressed to find a serious cycler without large quads. Make sure to crank up the resistance and keep consistent with your efforts to see the most gains.
Leg extensions have the ability to directly isolate the quads, but if you have existing knee issues, this exercise could simply make them worse.
7. Leg Press (Feet Low)
8. DB Step Ups
9. Sled Push / Pull
10. DB Spanish Squats / TKE Split Squats
The leg press allows you to use some heavy weight, but you have to make sure that you are going through the full range of motion to get the most benefits out of the exercise.
DB step ups are a great choice for an eccentric focus on the quads, but you might be challenged on the amount of weight you can use as well as your balance.
The sled push and pull are excellent options for athletes looking to grow their quads without a focus on the eccentric, but you’ll have to have to access to a sled and enough surface area to use it.
The Spanish squat and TKE split squat are the perfect replacement for the leg extensions but allow assistance muscles to work in concert as well.
11. Hack Squats
12. Bulgarian Split Squats
13. High Bar Back Squats
14. DB / BB Reverse Lunge
The hack squat takes the smith machine squat and makes it better by allowing for the body to move naturally even within a fixed path.
Bulgarian split squats are one of my favorite quad exercises that can be loaded heavy and challenges one leg at a time to combat muscle imbalances.
The high bar back squat is the king of all leg exercises and allows for significant overload, but believe it or not, you can better target the quads.
I love the reverse lunge for the ability to overload as well as how it feels for someone with knee problems.
15. Front Squats
16. Belt Squats
There simply is no better quad exercise for building big quads than the front squat. The ability to overload the exercise and it’s direct targeting of the quads makes it a top choice for building the quads.
The belt squat is one option that I put directly with the front squat in the best category and shouldn’t be ignored if you have access to it.
For a complete step by step workout program that was created with the same level of science behind the selection of every exercise in the plans, be sure to head to athleanx.com via the link below and check out our workout programs designed to get you to reach your goals.
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