How to Strengthen Quad Muscles Without Weights

Low lunge in a big yoga class
A group of women taking a yoga class perform a lunge exercise. (Image: Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images)

You can build strength in your quadriceps without ever having to step foot in a gym or lift any weights. Using your body weight as resistance, you can perform exercises that target the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. Bodyweight exercises can be more effective than training with weights as they incorporate more than one muscle group at a time and are more similar to the way the body naturally moves, thereby reducing the risk of injury, says Mark Lauren, author of "You Are Your Own Gym."

Single-Leg Squat

Step 1

Stand with your feet spaced hip-width apart and toes facing forward. Tighten your core to stabilize your spine and extend your arms parallel to the floor in front of you. Balance your body weight on your right side as you lift your left foot a few inches off the floor and bend your knee.

Step 2

Lower your body into a squat on your right side by simultaneously shifting your hips backward and flexing at your knee. Drive your left leg back as if your performing a reverse lunge, but without allowing your foot to touch the floor.

Step 3

Return to the starting position and repeat on your right leg until you feel your right thigh and glutes start to burn. Avoid touching the floor with your left foot between repetitions.

Alternating Forward Lunge

Step 1

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Place your hands on your hips for added balance and engage your core by drawing your navel in toward your spine.

Step 2

Lift your right foot off the floor and lunge forward, landing with with your heel first, then your toes. Drive your hips towards the floor to create a 90-degree bend at both knees.

Step 3

Push off your right front leg to return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating legs until you feel a burn in your thighs and glutes.

Mountain Climbers

Step 1

Kneel on both knees and place your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width. Lift your knees and extend your legs behind you, pulling your body into a pushup position.

Step 2

Engage your abdominals by drawing your navel up toward your spine while keeping your spine in neutral alignment. Quickly draw your right knee toward your chest and place your toes on the floor.

Step 3

Jump your right foot back while simultaneously drawing your left leg forward. As soon as both feet touch the floor, immediately return to the starting position and continue alternating legs until you feel a burn in your thighs, shoulders and arms.

Chair Squat

Step 1

Stand about 1 foot to 1 1/2 feet in front of a chair with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Interlock your fingers behind your head with your elbows wide. Tighten your core to stabilize your spine.

Step 2

Shift your hips back while simultaneously flexing at your knees to lower your body into a squat. Pause briefly once you feel the edge of the chair tap your mid thigh. Avoid letting your toes or heels to raise of the floor.

Step 3

Return to the starting position while trying to keep your shins perpendicular to the floor. Repeat until you feel a burn in your thighs and glutes.

Tip

Spend five to 10 minutes warming up your muscles for your workouts with a brisk walk, light jog and minor stretching of tight muscles.

Cool down after your workouts by performing stretches for all the muscles your worked.

Warning

Avoid these exercises if you suffer from knee or leg pain.

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