Lean and strong legs are on the want list of most women for beach season, especially getting more definition in the tear-shaped muscle in the front of the thighs. This muscle, the rectus femoris, is one of four muscles that make up the quadriceps. Since it shares many attachments with other muscles in your legs, hips and feet, it's impossible and impractical to isolate and train this muscle only. Full-body workouts that work all lower-body muscles will help you reduce body fat, gain full-body strength and get more definition than just doing leg extensions.
Barbell Front Squat
Stand with your feet about shoulder-distance apart, and hold a 30-pound barbell near your shoulders with both hands about as wide as your shoulder girdle. Your hands should be facing away from you.
Inhale as you squat down as low as you can, preferably with your buttocks below your knee level. Keep your back straight and your heels on the floor.
Exhale as you stand straight up without leaning forward. Perform three sets of eight to 10 reps.
Stack a set of aerobic steps to about as high as your knees. Stand with your feet together next to the steps and with your left lateral leg facing the steps. Put your hands on your hips.
Step to the side with your left foot by placing it on top of the step. Keep both feet pointing forward. Shift your weight toward your left foot and push your foot down on the step to bring yourself on the step.
Raise your right knee to your chest as you step up. Hold this position for one second. Do not bend your torso forward as you move.
Lower your body down and stand in the starting position. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 reps per leg.
Stand with your feet together and put your hands on your hips. Step forward about 2 feet in front of you with your left leg.
Inhale as you lunge down by bending both legs until your right knee touches gently on the floor. Keep your torso upright.
Exhale as you step back to the standing position. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 reps on each leg.
- Add weights for the step-ups and lunges, such as dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell, if you can do them with your body weight easily. For the front squats, use a heavier weight if you can perform the exercise easily. If you can't do it with good form, use a lighter weight or just your body weight. Work with a qualified exercise professional if you are new to exercise.
- Never train if you feel pain. Check with your health care provider before starting any new exercise routine.
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.