Next-Level Workout: How to strengthen your quadriceps
In this new eight-part series, CNA Lifestyle brings you trainer-certified moves to help you reap more results from your workouts.
To help you get out of your workout rut, CNA Lifestyle spoke to various trainers to highlight the specific exercises that will let you break out of your fitness funk. This week, we focus on the quadriceps or thighs.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR QUADRICEPS ARE WEAK
There’s good reason your thigh muscles are called quadriceps or quads for short. There are four (four in Latin is “quattuor”) large muscles on the front of your thigh: The rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis.
These powerful muscles are what enable you to extend your knee, flex the hip, adduct the thigh, stabilise the kneecap, and let you rotate your leg at the hip. In short, your quads are the work horses that let you get up from a chair, walk, climb stairs and squat.
So, what happens when you have weak quads? Thunder thighs and other unflattering names aside, weak quads may affect the way you walk. They may also get strained or pulled when you make a quick or sudden movement such as sprinting or kicking motion.
A common exercise to strengthen the quads is the basic side plank leg raise that you may have seen in retro Jane Fonda workout videos. To take that up a notch, Samuel Lim recommends the banded lateral walk.
“Most people with knee issues, such as tight, weakened or over-used knee joints often have quad issues,” said the 36-year-old trainer and owner of Crossfit Fire City. “When your quads are too tight, you may walk or run inefficiently. When you pick up a sport like jogging, the activity may just add on to the inefficiency and result in injury.”
Furthermore, the banded lateral walk works the side butt cheek, which affects your hip movements, an area people don’t usually engage or work on, he said.
To begin, loop a resistance band around your ankles. Next, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and adopt a half-squat position. If you’re new to the exercise, you can stand with straight legs instead. Step as far as you can to the side and as you do so, go into a deep squat. Bring your foot back in and return to the half-squat or straight-leg position.
Most people with knee issues, such as tight, weakened or over-used knee joints often have quad issues.
For starters, aim to perform 10 to 12 repetitions within 30 seconds, said Lim. As for the weight, use something you can manage without losing your form. A good starting weight varies from 5kg to 10kg.
To turn up the burn in your quads for the banded lateral walk, Lim said to go into a deeper squat as you step to the side. Holding heavier weights such as 10kg to 15kg will also intensify the workout.