Since your legs are used to carrying you around all day, effort is required to strengthen them, but that doesn't mean quad exercises have to be hard to be good. Fancy quad exercises that require the ability level of a Cirque du Soleil performer can be intimidating and discouraging. If the idea of a double-lunge-dumbbell-pass-through makes you want to throw in the towel before you even start, concentrate on easy quad exercises that are just as effective.
Whenever you take the stairs, you are using your quads to lift you up, so turn any available step into an easy, and good, quad exercise. If your Nest isn't in a high-rise, you may not be able to build a routine around walking up a few stories. But all you need at minimum for a simple quad move is one step, or a step platform from a sporting goods store. You can add variety to step-ups by lifting a knee or adding dumbbells. This exercise is so easy, you can concentrate on other things, like catching up with your favorite shows, while you work out.
Straight Leg Lifts
If stairs aren't your style, you can get an effective quad workout sitting on the floor. Leg lifts are exactly what they sound like; you sit on the ground and raise one leg at a time for a period of 10 seconds. While that may sound exceedingly easy, this exercise is good for strengthening the quads and knees. As you progress, you can strap an ankle weight on to give the move a little more oomph.
Your local gym will happily charge you a monthly fee to use its leg-press machines to work your quads. These can be extremely effective for radioing in on your quad muscles, because the machines isolate your leg. And what could be a simpler way to work your quads than sitting in one spot and pushing weights with your legs? Start out with a small range of movement and low weights to keep the exercise easy.
Don't be afraid of squats. You can tailor them to whatever difficulty level you prefer. They are only as challenging as the depths to which your posterior dips. Joseph Hart, a professor of kinesiology at University of Virginia, notes that squats can be an easy and effective exercise for strengthening thigh muscles. Start out with shallow squats. Keep your toes parallel, not turned out, to target your quads instead of your inner thighs. If shallow squats start feeling too easy, pick up a pair of dumbbells or a carton of milk.
Meredith Berg received her B.F.A. in directing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Now living in Los Angeles, she works as a film and television writer, comic-book editor and director of plays and films. In addition, she loves tackling paleo recipes, workout routines and DIY projects.