The quad muscles are on the front of the thigh. Since they help you stand, walk, run, and jump, it’s a good idea to show them some TLC. There are lots of great exercises that target your quads, which can help you tone and strengthen while burning fat.

Whether you’re looking to add bulk or simply strengthen your legs, quad exercises are essential.

Show your quads some love with these 11 quad exercises, all of which can be performed at home with minimal equipment. After all, glutes and hammies can’t have all the fun!

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Your quads, the muscles in the front of your thighs, don’t get as much love or attention as your glutes or hamstrings — but they definitely deserve it. Collectively, they’re known as the quadriceps femoris — but they’re actually five different muscles:

  • rectus femoris
  • vastus lateralis
  • vastus medialis
  • vastus intermedius
  • tensor of the vastus intermedius

“The quads are one of the largest muscle groups in your body,” says Sydney Yeomans, CPT, personal trainer and Director of Fitness at BODY20. “Making them strong will take more pressure off of your knees and ankles.”

Building muscle is great for fat loss too, because it accelerates your metabolism. The end result? More calories burned, even at rest.

“As we build muscle, we are building a foundation for strong bones, tendons, and ligaments around the leg muscles,” Yeomans says.

Ready to get your quad game on? Here are the 11 best exercises for your quads:

  • Bodyweight squat
  • Weighted squat
  • Elevated heel squat
  • Sissy squat
  • Cyclist squat
  • Split squat
  • Wall sit
  • Lunge
  • Reverse lunge
  • Walking lunge
  • Quad stretch

Although squats are often associated with your glutes, they’re great for your quads too.

Here’s how to perform one, according to Donna Cennamano, NASM CPT, personal trainer and Manager of Training for CycleBar:

  1. Take a balanced stance, feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bring the hips back as though you’re about to sit down, and keep the chest open and lifted.
  3. Stand back up.
  4. Aim for 8–10 reps and 2–3 sets.

Cennamano recommends starting out with two or three sets of eight to ten reps per set for this move, and any of the moves below.

“Just two or three times per week for a 15 or 30-minute session will yield noticeable results in your legs, and especially the quads,” she says.

This move has all of the same mechanics as the bodyweight squat, except you’ll also hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest for added resistance.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at chest level.
  2. Sink your hips back like you’re sitting down in a chair.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Repeat for 2–3 sets of 8–10 reps each.

Pro tip: “Keep your weight heavy in your heels and chest up,” says Yeomans, “then sit back like you are sitting in a chair. Eyes should stay forward as you sink into the squat.”

For this move, you’ll need something under your heels — like a heavy hardcover book, or two rolled towels — to elevate them off the ground.

Here’s how Yeomans says to perform it:

  1. With your heels elevated, stand with your feet a little closer together than shoulder-width.
  2. Send your hips back like you’re sitting in a chair while keeping your chest upright.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Repeat for 2–3 sets, aiming for 8–10 reps per set.

Pro tip: “Take a three second count down and a three second count up,” she adds. “The more time under tension for the muscle, the more the muscle will grow.”

The sissy squat is quite deceptively named. It’s tough, but you will definitely feel your quads getting stronger with this move.

To perform it:

  1. Stand in a neutral athletic stance.
  2. Lift your heels off the ground as you slowly lean backwards.
  3. Bend your knees and sink down as low as you can while balancing on the balls of your feet.
  4. Return to starting position.
  5. Repeat for 2-3 sets with 8-10 reps each.

The cyclist squat is a variation on the elevated heel squat that mimics the stance of a cyclist on their bike. With this squat, you’ll keep your legs close together.

To perform it:

  1. Elevate your heels on a textbook or some rolled towels, keeping your feet just a few inches apart.
  2. Then sink back as if you’re sitting in a chair.
  3. Slowly return to your original position to complete the rep.
  4. Aim for 2-3 sets with 8-10 reps per set.

Pro tip: You can keep your arms straight in front of you to assist with balance. However, many people also perform this squat with weights.

The split squat is a squat that isolates each leg, which can be helpful if you tend to favor one side or if you want to help balance out your strength in each leg.

For the split squat:

  1. Start with one leg in front of you and one leg behind you. Your back foot should have the heel up with your weight on the ball of the foot.
  2. Sink your back leg down as low as possible, allowing your front leg to bend into the squat as well.
  3. Return to your starting position.
  4. After 8–10 reps, switch sides. Repeat for 2–3 sets.

For this move, all you need is a wall. “Find an open wall, sink down into a squat,” says Yeomans.

To perform it: She recommends trying to sit with your thighs parallel to the floor, and forming a 90-degree angle with your lower legs.

  1. Stand with your back and shoulders flush against a wall.
  2. Sink down like you’re sitting in a chair, with your thighs parallel to the floor and forming a 90-degree angle with your lower legs.
  3. Hold this position for 45 seconds to one minute. Repeat for 2–3 sets.

Pro tip: “You want to keep your chest up,” Yeomans says. “Think about pressing your shoulder blades into the wall, and keep your eyes forward.”

Cennamano says, “Lunges also target the quads, and they’re a great functional movement exercise for strength building — especially in the muscles around the knees — and balance.”

To perform a lunge, she says:

  1. Stand with feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Step the left foot out, keeping the upper body straight. As it bends, keep the front knee behind the toes while the back knee lowers.
  3. After eight reps, switch legs. Repeat for 2–3 sets.

Pro tip: Cennamano says that focusing on going down instead of going forward can help you improve your form.

The reverse lunge, also recommended by Cennamano, is very similar to the lunge except your leg moves behind you instead of in front of you. Here are the steps:

  1. Stand in the same stance as a lunge.
  2. Step one foot behind you, keeping the upper body straight as you lower your knees.
  3. Return to your original stance to complete the rep.
  4. Switch legs after eight reps. Repeat for 2–3 sets.

A final lunge variation that can really work your quads is the walking lunge. This one is exactly what it sounds like. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Move into a lunge by stepping one foot out directly in front of you and bending your knee to sink into move.
  3. Fluidly, move through your starting stance and into a lunge with the opposite leg. Each lunge will move you forward like you’re walking.
  4. Repeat for 8–10 reps and 2–3 sets.

Pro tip: Make sure you have plenty of space to perform this move. Indoors, a hallway may be best. Outdoors, performing some walking lunges is a great way to add some variety (and a little extra pump) to your walks.

If you’re pretty active, the odds are great that you’ve already performed this stretch before or that you do it fairly regularly. This is a great stretch to close out your quad workouts.

To perform it:

  1. Stand in a relaxed athletic stance.
  2. Bend one knee behind you and grab that foot with your hand on the same side.
  3. Hold the stretch for several seconds before switching sides.

Thunder thighs ain’t so bad when you’ve got quads like Zeus. These moves will help you grow them, so you can reap the benefits of stronger quads — which will actually make all of your lifts (and any movement you do regularly) easier. When in doubt, squat it out!