Quadriceps Exercises Using Your Body Weight

The quadriceps include four long muscles that run down the front of your thigh. These large muscles work together to extend and swing the leg as well as to support the knee joint. Not only will toning these muscles make your legs look fit and lean, but you'll also gain more leg strength for walking, cycling and daily activities that require you to squat. Although you can strengthen your quads using various gym machines and toning tools, you can get an excellent leg-toning workout using nothing but your own body weight.

Lunges and other body weight exercises tone and strengthen the quads. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The Stationary Lunge

The stationary lunge works nearly all of the muscles in the lower body but primarily works the quads. To perform any lunge variation safely, always keep the knee of the front leg in line with the ankle. Stand with your feet about hip width apart. Take a large step forward with your right foot so your feet are about 36 inches apart. Keeping your back straight and your right foot flat on the ground, lower your upper body straight down. As you lower, focus on going downward. Do not push forward or you can harm your knee. In the lowest position, your right thigh should be parallel to the floor and your right shin should be perpendicular to the floor. Your left knee should not touch the ground. Hold the lowered position for a count of two and then slowly rise back up. Repeat the lowering and raising 10 times and then switch legs.

The Basic Squat

The basic squat requires a motion similar to sitting in a chair. Stand with your feet about hip width apart. Lower down, but rather than focusing on moving your rear end straight down, think about pushing your buns back as you lower. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. In the lowest position, your knees should not extend past the center of your foot and your butt should never dip lower than your knees. Hold the position for a count of two and then slowly rise back up. Repeat 10 to 15 times. When doing this squat, your arms can be by your sides or extended out in front of you.

The Reclined Raise

The reclined raise seems simple at first, but after a few lifts, you'll feel your quads working. Lie on your back on the floor and then prop yourself up on both elbows. Bend your left leg so your left foot is resting on the floor near your right knee. Keeping your right leg straight and your right foot flexed, slowly lift the right leg 6 to 10 inches off the floor. Hold your right leg in the raised position for a count of five and then lower it back down. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.

The Warrior Poses

The warrior is a series of yoga poses that require you to hold a lunge position. When you start doing them, you'll feel a burn along the front of the leg. Stand with your feet facing forward and your legs wide apart. Turn your right foot 90 degrees so it is pointing straight out to the side. For balance, turn your left foot in slightly. Raise your arms out to your sides so they are parallel to the floor and then lower until your thigh is close to parallel with the floor. In the lowered position, your right knee should be in line with your ankle and you should be able to see the big toe of your right foot. Your left leg will be straight. Hold the position for a count of 10. Then, raise your arms overhead, twist at the waist to look over your right leg. When you twist, do not change the position of your legs. Hold this position for a count of 10, lower your arms and rise back up. Repeat on the other side. As you get stronger, hold the poses longer.

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