penny barnshaw garage fitness girl

7 Quad Focused Exercises for Killer Thighs


Remember the days when everyone was determinedly squeezing their Thigh Master in order to get killer legs? Thankfully, most of us are now aware that it takes a whole range of exercises to get those shapely, strong thighs.

Below I’ve hand-picked 7 of my favourite exercises for working the thigh muscles. All of them include the quads as the main focus, but there are plenty of other muscles such as the glutes, hip abductors, and hamstrings that you’ll also be strengthening.

You’ll find these exercises are regularly featured in the follow-along workouts on my YouTube channel, but you can also use them to create your own leg day workout.

#1 Dumbbell Front Squat

This exercise target the quads, glutes and hamstrings, and in doing so helps improve balance, build stronger abs and increase overall strength! Because of the position of the weight, it can feel easier on the lower back than some other leg exercises. Advanced fitness levels can spice it up by adding a calf raise at the top of the movement.

#2 Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Lunge

This exercise strengthens the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Because it’s a single leg exercise there is increased core involvement to maintain balance throughout the movement. Foot placement is important for this movement, depending on the area you want to target – keep your foot closer to the elevated surface for more quad focus, and further away for more glute and hamstring focus!

3. Dumbbell Lateral Lunge Touchdown

This is an important movement in any leg day workout as it works the legs in a frontal plane (side to side). Usually, in everyday life when moving from sitting to standing, and often in our leg workouts, we spend a lot of time in the sagittal plane (forward and back). Moving in a different direction helps tone and strengthen the quads from a different angle. It’s a great exercise for targeting the side of the glutes as well.

#4. Dumbbell Curtsy Lunge to Jump Squat

This movement targets the quads, glutes and hip abductors (inner thighs). The curtsy lunge is great for building overall strength and stability in the legs, while the jump squat adds variety and some extra burn to fire up the thighs.

#5. Jump lunges

Jump lunges are an excellent cardiovascular exercise that also improves strength, power, balance and coordination.  Be mindful not to allow the knee to travel too far forward in the movement, and make sure to keep the front heel on the ground as you begin and end the movement. You can modify to an alternating forward or reverse lunge if needed.

#6. Lateral Squat Walk

This exercise targets the quads, hip abductors (inner thighs) and glutes. Did you know that because lateral motion requires a lot of extra effort by the body, this lateral movement burns 78% more calories than walking forward!

#7 Wall Sit with Leg Extension

Wall sits are a great exercise for building strength and endurance in the quads, glutes and calves. The longer you hold the position, the more you build up your leg endurance and strength. Adding the leg extension will work to increase the work done by the core to help stabilize you, and you’ll also get more of a workout in those quads as you extended and squeeze the thigh at the top of the movement. Spice this move up by adding in a bicep curl, a lateral raise, or just hold some extra weight on your lap and see how long you can push through the burn!

If you enjoy these moves please make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel and tick the notification bell, so you never miss a new workout. You can also sign up for workout calendars that I send out for free every month.

Happy Leg Day! 

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