Your quadriceps is that large muscle lying on the front of your thigh. It helps with everything from walking and running to jumping and squatting. The inner part of your quadriceps is specifically important with stabilizing your patella, or kneecap, and steadying your knee joint while you walk. You can add several exercises to your routine to strengthen this specific part of your quadriceps.
Even though it’s just one muscle, your quadriceps actually has four heads, each one starting from a different point on your pelvis or femur. Running along the inside of your quads is the vastus medialis. A weak vastus medialis is often the cause of knee injuries because your kneecap does not follow the correct motion and wears on the inside surface of your femur, causing irritation and inflammation. To fully strengthen the inner part of your quadriceps, fully extend your knee when you straighten it.
Many traditional strength-training exercises target the vastus medialis. These exercises include the leg press, squat and leg extension. When doing any of these moves, pay attention to the final phase of the exercise to ensure you allow your knee to reach full extension. This means completely straightening your leg. Otherwise, the inner part of your quadriceps may not be properly targeted.
If you have experienced an injury to your knee and are rehabilitating it, the straight leg raise is the best way to target your vastus medialis, according to the “Journal of Sports Rehabilitation” in 2008. To do this move, lie face up on a bench or a mat with your legs extended straight. Place your hands under your buttock to support your pelvis. Engage your abs and raise your legs up by flexing your hips. Bring them up until your legs are perpendicular to the floor, then return to the starting position and repeat. Once you can perform this exercise properly, progress to weight-bearing exercises such as squats and leg presses.
If you believe your vastus medialis is weak or you want to do exercises that only target this portion of your quadriceps, add in single leg extensions, unilateral leg press exercises or the step-up, according to a study published in the “Journal of Sports Rehabilitation” in 2008. Instead of pushing your knee through its full range of motion during these exercises, focus on the last 20 degrees of extension.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.