If your thighs are getting flabby, it might be time to start a new strength training routine. Many pieces of gym equipment are available to help you focus on toning your quadriceps for a sleek, lean look. These exercise machines make it easier to keep your upper leg muscles defined, even in inclement weather. Go to your local gym and make an effort to do these quad exercises two to three times a week for 20 or 30 minutes.
Before beginning your quad workout, warm up with stretches and a light form of cardio, such as a brisk walk or jog. Include stretches that focus on loosening your upper leg muscles, such as the standing quad stretch, in which you balance on one leg while bending the other leg back, grasping your ankle with one hand. Hold each leg for 20 to 30 seconds. Once you have warmed up, you are ready to begin your leg workout on the machines. You can balance your strength training by using other machines to work the rest of your leg muscles. Choose one or two of these quad exercises per workout so as not to put too much strain on your quads at the beginning. Perform your strength training program two to three times a week on alternating days to allow your muscles to recover after each workout.
Most gyms have a leg extension machine. Sit in the chair and select your weight. Grasp the hand bars and place your legs beneath the pads. Even though the leg extension machine primarily works your quad muscles, the pads should be over your lower legs. Contract your quadriceps and raise your legs against the resistance of the weights until they are fully extended in front of you. Pause for a moment, then slowly lower your feet again until your knees are bent at 90 degrees once again. Repeat this for eight to 10 repetitions
The hack squat machine can be an essential part of a quadriceps workout. Lie back on the pad with your shoulders hooked under the pad. Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform. Keep your back against the pad and your head up at all times. Grasp the handles with your hands and straighten your legs without locking your knees. Then slowly bend your knees and lower into a squat position. Hold, and then push yourself back up to the starting point. Repeat this exercise eight to 10 times.
Standing Leg Extensions
Standing leg extensions use a fairly simple piece of gym equipment. Begin by attaching the cuff of a resistance cable around your ankle. Position yourself in front of the machine with the weight stack at your rear. Lift your cuffed foot a few inches off the ground, then slowly extend your leg in front of you until it is straight. Slowly return your foot to the starting position. Repeat eight to 12 times for each foot. This exercise works not only your quads, but also your stomach and core muscles.
The leg press machine is a simple workout, but you will feel the burn in your thighs and begin to see results in your muscle definition. Adjust the machine so that when you sit in it your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your feet flat against the platform. Keep your ab muscles tight as you slowly push against the platform until your legs are straight but not locked. Slowly return to start without letting the weights down completely. Repeat for eight to 12 reps.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.