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Boost Your Running with Strong Quads: Top Exercises for Quadriceps Strength

9 Mins read

Are you ready to boost your running performance and protect yourself from overuse injuries? Well, look no further because you’ve stumbled upon the ultimate guide to supercharging those quadriceps!

Here’s the truth.

If you want to take your running game to new heights, there’s one secret weapon you need to harness: strength training.

Now, let’s talk about those marvelous quadriceps. These muscles play a crucial role in your running adventure. They’re the unsung heroes responsible for providing support as you gracefully land on each leg and generate that powerful forward propulsion.

But hold onto your running shoes because I’m about to share with you the crème de la crème of quad exercises. These fantastic seven exercises have been handpicked to skyrocket your running prowess and give you that extra edge on the track or trail.

Are you pumped? I know I am! Let’s jump right in!

What Are The Quadriceps Muscles?

Picture this: deep within your frontal thighs, just above the knees, lies a powerhouse of muscles ready to ignite your performance on the track, trail, or wherever your running adventures take you. We’re talking about the quadriceps, my friend!

The quads are no ordinary group of muscles—they hold immense power and strength. In fact, studies have shown that the quadriceps are among the strongest muscle groups in our entire human temple. Impressive, right?

But here’s the kicker: the quads aren’t just a single muscle; they’re a team of four extraordinary muscles working in perfect harmony. It’s like having your very own quad squad!

Let’s meet the members, shall we?

First up, we have the Vastus Medialis, affectionately known as the “teardrop” muscle. It’s nestled within the inner sanctum of your leg, near the knee. This little warrior adds stability and strength to your knee joint, ensuring a smooth and controlled movement.

Next, we have the Vastus Lateralis, the guardian of the upper leg’s outer realm. This bad boy provides explosive power and stability, ready to tackle any running challenge that comes your way.

Say hello to the Rectus Femoris, the grand maestro of hip flexion. Positioned right in the middle of your thigh, it’s responsible for bringing your thigh closer to your body. Think of it as the conductor orchestrating the perfect stride.

Last but not least, we have the Vastus Intermedius, the unsung hero sandwiched between the Vastus Lateralis and Vastus Medialis. Together, they form an unstoppable front-line defense, ensuring your quadriceps perform at their peak.

Now, here’s the juicy part: these quad muscles are not just about bending and straightening your knee. Oh no, my friend, they’re the key to unlocking your physical potential in a myriad of activities.

Benefits of Quad Strengthening Exercises For Runners

Here are some of the advantages of strengtheniing your quadriceps.

First and foremost, brace yourself for a surge in speed. Picture yourself dashing through the finish line with lightning speed, effortlessly conquering steep hills like a superhero, and unleashing an explosive push-off power that propels you forward in all your running endeavors.

That’s the power of strong quads in action!

But that’s not all. Brace yourself for a body that’s practically bulletproof against injuries. You see, research has uncovered a fascinating connection between weak and tight quads and a whole host of running-related injuries.

Take runner’s knee, for instance. A study conducted by brilliant minds revealed that weak quads are often to blame for this nagging condition. They simply can’t support and stabilize the knee during the running motion, leaving it vulnerable and prone to trouble. But fear not! Strengthening those quadriceps is like putting on a suit of armor for your knees. By fortifying this muscle group, you’ll not only reduce your risk of injuries but also enhance the raw power of your legs.

Speaking of injuries, let’s talk about shock absorption. Did you know that your mighty quadriceps act as natural shock absorbers? It’s true! Researchers at the esteemed University of Delaware have found that strong quads have a remarkable ability to cushion your knees against common overuse injuries. Imagine them as the bouncy springs beneath your steps, softening the impact and ensuring your knees stay happy and healthy on your running journey.

But wait, there’s more! Say goodbye to the dreaded “dead-leg” syndrome. You know that feeling when your legs feel heavy, sluggish, and utterly uncooperative? Weak quads might be the sneaky culprit behind this demoralizing condition. Your quadriceps play a pivotal role in maintaining endurance, keeping your legs firing on all cylinders. Strengthening these powerhouses will banish those dead-leg blues and usher in a new era of unstoppable stamina.

Quadriceps Training For Runners Guidelines

Start Slowly

First things first, take it easy and don’t rush into things. Just like any exercise regimen, quad training requires a patient approach.

Begin by easing yourself into the routine, gently testing the waters of your quad strength. As you gradually get stronger, it’s time to crank up the challenge. You can achieve this by adding more weight to your exercises, increasing the number of sets you perform, or even better—doing both! Embrace the thrill of progress and push your limits.

Warm Up Right

Before delving into your quad workout, it’s crucial to prepare your body for action. A dynamic warm-up routine is your secret weapon.

Start with a leisurely 5-minute jog or even some energizing running in place to get those muscles primed. Then, dive into 5 minutes of dynamic moves that awaken your entire lower body—think inchworms, squats, walking lunges, and high knees. Consider it a prelude to the quad-training symphony that awaits you.

Find The Right Combo

Finding the right combination of exercises is key to unlocking the full potential of your quads.

Below, you’ll discover a treasure trove of quad exercises that can be incorporated into your lower body strength routine. Aim to perform this routine one to two times per week to reap the maximum benefits. When it comes to repetitions, shoot for about 8 to 12 per exercise. This sweet spot will help you build strength and endurance without overexerting yourself. Oh, and don’t forget to aim for two to three sets in total—consistency is key, my friend.

Proper Form

Now, let’s talk about the crown jewel of effective quad training—proper form. It reigns supreme over everything else. While it may be tempting to chase higher rep numbers, never compromise on your form.

Each rep should be executed with precision and control, paying close attention to your body’s alignment and movement patterns. Remember, quality over quantity. As you gradually increase the intensity of your training, you might find yourself performing fewer reps. But fear not for in this journey, you shall gain strength that transcends mere numbers.

Don’t Forget Your Hamstrings

Ah, my friend, let’s not forget about the unsung heroes of your lower body—those mighty hamstrings! You see, a balanced approach is the secret sauce to unleashing your full potential. Focusing solely on your quads while neglecting your hamstrings is like trying to sail a ship with one oar—it’s just not going to get you very far.

Allow me to paint a picture for you. Imagine your quads as the powerful engine that propels you forward in your running journey. They’re already firing on all cylinders thanks to the repetitive motion of running. But here’s the catch: if your hamstrings don’t receive the attention they deserve, it’s like having an engine without the supporting structure. Imbalances can creep in, causing trouble down the road.

Research has shown that runners often have stronger quads than hamstrings, leaving the latter playing catch-up. That’s why it’s essential to give your hamstrings some love and strengthen them alongside your quads. Trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Now, let’s talk about some fantastic exercises that target those hamstrings of yours.

The Best 5 Quad Exercises For Runners

You can perform this quad routine as a workout in itself, or you can choose to add a few of these exercises into your already established routine—it’s your choice.

These exercises are the best because they hit the quads from so many different angles, targeting the front, sides and upper of these crucial running muscles.

Quad Exercise For Runners –1. Squats

Depending on your current fitness level and training goals, you can perform the squat using nothing but your body weight or you can also use dumbbells or a barbell for more challenge.

Squats and its other variations put a lot of emphasis on the quads as well as improving lower body strength, endurance, and mobility.

Squats are some of the best runners oriented exercises that there is.

Proper Form

Stand feet width apart, back flat, and core engaged.

Next, while keeping your head up and knees tracking over your toes, slowly squat down by bending the knees and sitting your butt back as if you were sitting in an imaginary chair.

Keep squatting down until your knees are bent at a 90 degrees angle and/or when your thighs are parallel to the ground.

Once you reach the bottom half of the squat, pause for a moment, then press up through the heels and engage your quads on the way up.

That’s one rep.

2. Single Leg Squats

This is a more advanced version of a squat, and it requires an enormous amount of strength, mobility, and flexibility so you’d better be careful with this one.

Pistols are super challenging exercise, so please feel free to opt for the assisted pistol variation by grabbing a TRX strap or holding on to a chair, a pole, or a wall, for balance.

Additional resource – The Myrtl routine

Proper Form

Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart, then shift your weight to your right leg.

Then, balance on your right leg and fully extend the left leg out in front of you.

Make sure to squat down as deep as you can on the planted leg.

Next, while keeping your back flat and core engaged, bend your right hip and knee at the same time to perform the exercise.

Aim for at least a 50 degrees bend in the right knee, while keeping your hips even and knee tracking over the toes.

Last up, return to standing position by extending your right leg to complete one rep.

Aim for 10 to 12 reps on each leg to complete one set.

Perform five sets.

3. Leg Extensions Quad Exercise

Perform the easier version without the need for a machine by sitting down on a higher table or chair and clasping a weight between your feet for more resistance.

It’s your choice.

Proper Form

Begin by sitting on the padded seat of the machine (just like shown in the video tutorial) with the pads over the top of the ankles.

Next, hook your feet under the padded bar and while bracing your core and keeping your back head straight.

While holding the handles for stability, straighten your legs by extending them up, squeeze at the top and hold for a second, then slowly bring the weight back down, but do not allow your knees go past a 90-degree angle.

4. Weighted Walking Lunge

In addition to the squat, walking lunges are some of the best runners oriented quad strength exercises.

Plus they’re dynamic and target most of the lower body muscles, especially your rectus femoris muscle.

Proper Form

Begin by standing up straight with dumbbells grasped to each side or with a loaded barbell rested on the upper back.

Next, while keeping the torso upright and core activated, take a large step forward with your right leg, landing on the heel than the forefoot.

Then, drop into a lunge and lower your body down until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle with the left knee almost touching the floor.

Move forward by driving through the heel of your right foot while bringing your left leg forward until you are back to starting position, then step with your left leg into a lunge, repeating the pattern to complete one rep.

Do 8 to 10 reps to complete one set.

Perform five sets.

5. Leg Press

This is another classical quad exercise, and you’ll also need access to the appropriate machine.

This exercise mainly targets the quadricep provided that you’re keeping good form the entire time.

Proper Form

Begin by sitting on the leg press machine with your head and back against the padded support.

To assume the right position, make sure to place your feet on the footplate roughly hip-width distance apart while keeping the heels flat the entire time.

Next, grab the seat handles, carefully unlatch the sled from the safeties, then extend your knees to press the weight up until your legs are nearly straight, stopping just short of locking out.

Pause for a moment, then lower the platform by bending your knees.

Make sure to push through your heels, keeping your knees in line with the toes the entire time, allowing for no bowing inward nor outward.

Just be careful here with the leg press as it is notoriously known for causing trouble.

quadriceps exercises

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Quad Exercises For Runners – The Conclusion

There you have it!

The above quad exercises are the best when it comes to increasing strength in your lower body, especially in the rectus femoris muscle.

Do this awesome quad workout on a regular basis if you’re serious about making real progress. Also, keep in mind to stay within your fitness level the entire time.

Here are more  strength exercises for runners.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime thank you for reading my post

Keep Running Strong

David D.

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