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The quadriceps muscles, also known as quads, run along the front of your thigh from the pelvis to the knee. Toning the quads gives you strength for walking, cycling, daily activities such as gardening and helps improve your balance. If your legs are weak, you have trouble with your knees or you are just beginning an exercise regimen, you may find it difficult to perform the common exercises for quads, such as lunges and squats. Luckily, several exercises will allow you strengthen your quads without strain.
Isometric Quad Exercise
In an isometric exercise, you contract a muscle without moving your body. The contraction builds strength without putting strain on any joints. Sit on a bench or a chair that has a flat, solid seat. You should be seated with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor; rest your hands on your thighs near the knees. Concentrate on contracting your quad muscle in your right thigh without contracting your buttocks or lifting your leg off the bench or chair. Hold the contraction for a count of 10. Release and repeat on the left thigh. Work up to holding the contraction for a count of 30.
Sit near the edge of a bench or a chair with a flat, solid seat. Your feet should be flat on the floor, your shoulders back and your back straight. Place your hands behind you and hold onto the seat of the bench or chair. Contract the quads of your right leg and lift your foot until the leg is straight in front of you. Your foot should be flexed with your toes pointing toward the ceiling. Hold the leg out for a count of two. Keeping the quad contracted, lower your leg down until your foot is again flat on the floor. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs. Aim to keep the working leg contracted throughout this exercise. As you build strength, your goal is to do this exercise without touching the foot to the floor between each leg lift. Never lock your knee when the leg is extended.
Sitting down and standing up from a chair works your quads in a similar manner as a squat, but with less strain. Sit toward the edge of a chair or on a bench with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Stand up from your seated position. As you stand, focus on using mainly your quads to bring yourself up. Sit back down, but make the movement as slow as possible. Work up to repeating this 10 times. During this exercise, your hands can rest on your thighs, but don't press them into your thighs to push yourself up. If you find you keep using your hands to press up, dangle them by your side or cross your arms over your chest.
Even if you're not strong enough to climb several flights of stairs, hopefully, you can tackle the single step in this exercise. Stand at the foot of a staircase. Step your right foot onto the first stair and use your quads to bring your body up until the right leg is straight. Bring the left foot up onto the stair. Pause for a count of two, then step down with the left leg and lower the left foot to the ground. Step the right foot back down to the floor. Step up again, but begin with the left leg. Continue alternating legs. Work up to 10 step ups per leg. Throughout this exercise, you may hold the stair railing for balance, but don't use the railing to pull yourself up.