9 Intense Vastus Medialis Exercises | How to Exercise Your Quads!

By
Mike Kenler
October 13, 2020

What is the Vastus Medialis?

The vastus medialis is a muscle located in our inner thigh just above the knee. Alongside the rectus femoris, the vastus intermedius, and the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis is one of the four muscles that make up our quadriceps.  

Like the other muscles in our quadriceps, the vastus medialis is responsible for extending the leg and stabilizing the knee joint.

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Benefits of Vastus Medialis Exercises

Exercises that specifically target the vastus medialis and the quadriceps as a whole are extremely valuable. Training the quads should be prioritized for many reasons.

1. Injury Prevention

Chronic knee pain may be caused by weakened muscles in the quadriceps, specifically the vastus medialis. Building a stronger vastus medialis can increase the stability in the knees, thereby reducing knee pain and preventing further injury!

2. Better Athletic Performance 

Strengthening the vastus medialis doesn’t just help us prevent injury. Strong quads are essential for almost any athletic movement — running, jumping and lunging all depend on sturdy quadriceps muscles for explosiveness and stability. Train the vastus medialis to maximize athletic potential!

3. Improved Aesthetics 

Nearly all of us would prefer to have sculpted, toned legs. While physical appearance largely depends on our dietary choices, we can also build muscle in our legs to improve the appearance of our lower half. Without further ado, let’s learn how to exercise our vastus medialis.

9 Intense Vastus Medialis Exercises

‍1. Split Squat

The split squat is an effective unilateral leg exercise that highly engages the vastus medialis. With one leg elevated behind you on a chair, couch or bench, squat downwards with a straight back. Explode upwards driving through the quad returning back to the starting position.

2. Step Ups

The step up is a simple exercise that can be performed with any stable elevated surface. Begin by standing next to a bench with or without weights. Step up onto the surface with your right foot and thrust upwards with your quad. Step down with the left foot and repeat this motion with your other leg.

3. Squat Hold 

The squat hold targets your vastus medialis as well as your glutes. Begin by assuming a standing position with your feet roughly shoulder width apart. Keeping your core engaged and your back straight, hinge at the waist to lower your hips until they reach knee level.

Hold in this position for as long as you can. Then, squeeze your legs and glutes to rise upwards. Repeat!

4. Side Lunge 

The side lunge is a great lunge alternative that targets your vastus medialis. Assume a standing position with your toes slightly flared out and your feet wider than shoulder width apart. 

Keeping your left leg straight, bend your right knee and shift your weight to your right side. Then, transition to the starting position and repeat on the left side. Keep switching legs! 

5. Lunge Pulses 

Lunge pulses heavily target your quads as a whole. Begin by assuming a standing position. Lunge forward with one leg while keeping your front knee over your front ankle. Pulse up and down in this position and be sure to keep your back straight and your core engaged.

6. Close Stance Squat

Assume a standing position with your feet together. Keeping your core engaged and your back straight, hinge at the waist to lower your hips until they reach knee level. Extend your arms outwards for balance on the way down. Squeeze your quads and glutes to return to the starting position. Repeat!

7. Alternating Reverse Lunge 

Begin by assuming a standing position. Lunge backward with one leg while keeping your front knee over your front ankle. Pause for a moment at the bottom, then explode upwards with the vastus medialis in your front leg. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Repeat!

8. 1-Legged Bench Squat

The 1-legged bench squat places an intense stress on the vastus medialis — this exercise depends upon stability and balance. Assume a standing position with your feet close together. Stand in front of the bench and straighten your right leg.

Now, hinge at the waist and squat downwards on your left leg until your buttocks makes contact with the bench. Pause for a moment at the bottom and thrust upwards using your left quad. Switch legs and repeat!

9. Explosive Squat Jump

Explosive squat jumps recruit the quick twitch muscles in the quads, especially the vastus medialis. Assume a standing position with your feet roughly shoulder width apart. Hinge at the waist to lower your hips until they reach knee level.

Contact your legs and glutes to explode upwards and jump in the air. Bend your knees as you land to reduce the impact on your knees and repeat!

Looking for a Killer Quad Workout?

Follow along to this intense 5 minute at home quad workout!

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Mike Kenler
Director of Writing | Certified in Plant Based Nutrition at T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

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