June 13, 2022 9 min read
Although a lot of people can boast of having large, well-developed upper bodies, there are far fewer that can justifiably claim to have large, awesome-looking legs, despite the fact that we use our legs every day, and strengthening them can have both aesthetic, practical, and health-related benefits.
Your legs make up approximately 50% of our bodies’ muscle mass, which means there is a lot to be said about not skipping leg day.
One of the reasons that people do not put as much focus on their legs when they are strength training is that leg exercises are hard and often leave our legs sore, making it difficult to walk the next day. Because using our legs is all but unavoidable, it's a lot harder to deal with sore legs than it is to deal with a sore upper body.
For this reason, people often don’t get past their first few leg days to the point where they reach the threshold where their legs stop being so sore.
While this is completely understandable, there are some avenues that you can take to minimize muscle soreness the next day, such as taking muscle recovery supplements like high-quality BCAAS/EAAS.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that working out your legs isn’t difficult, but isn’t that part of the journey?
For those who do want to get ripped legs, one of the main muscle groups that they absolutely cannot ignore is the quadriceps or “quads.”
The vastus medialis, also known as the vastus internus and the teardrop muscle, is one of the four muscles that make up the quadriceps group of muscles.
It originates from the upper part of the femoral shaft and inserts as a flattened tendon into the quadriceps femoris tendon, which inserts into the upper border of the patella. The purpose of the vastus medialis is to extend the knee, and for that reason, a weak vastus medialis may be the cause of knee pain which affects a large portion of the world’s adult population.
Strengthening the vastus medialis is, thus, very beneficial to improving knee pain and overall knee health since it plays such a big role in stabilizing the knee.
Moreover, a ripped vastus medialis can really make a difference in your overall leg strength and is a major factor in making your legs look great.
The thing about the vastus medialis is that it often does not get enough activation with many typical quad exercises, which is why a lot of serious bodybuilders will make sure to include exercises that specifically target the vastus medialis in their strength training routine.
For those who want to know how to seriously improve their quad strength by focusing on the vastus medialis, keep reading. After we breakdown a little bit of quad anatomy, we have included the best 10 vastus medialis exercises available. With these exercises, you can be sure that you are working out your quads in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Quadriceps, or quads for short, is the collective term for the muscles on the front of your thighs. It’s sometimes called the quadriceps femoris, which means four-headed thigh muscle. The primary function of the quadriceps is knee extension.
The four muscles that make up the quadriceps are:
This is the largest of the quad muscles. It’s also the only one that crosses both the hip and the knee joints, making it a biaxial muscle. Because of this, it not only extends the knee joint but due to its function alongside the hip flexors, it also bends the hip.
Located on the outside of the thigh, this quadricep contributes to the width of your upper leg. It is a uniaxial muscle, which means it only crosses one joint. Because it does not cross your hip, its only function is knee extension.
The vastus medialis, which includes the vastus medialis oblique (VMO), is the teardrop-shaped muscle just above your knee. Like the other muscles, it is responsible for knee extension. It also helps make sure your patella or kneecap tracks and moves properly.
Located between and beneath vastus lateralis and vastus medialis, this muscle is not easy to see but, when well developed, contributes a lot to the size of your thigh. Despite having four different origin points, the four quadriceps muscles come together to form the single quadriceps tendon and then the patellar ligament.
Knowing the anatomy of the muscles in your body is important if you're serious about gaining mass. The vastus medialis is just one of the muscles that help make up your lower body, and training it can help contribute to bigger, stronger legs.
Squats are the king of leg exercises, just like deadlifts are the king of back exercises. The heel elevated back squat is especially effective at building up your quadriceps, especially the vastus medialis.
By doing squats with a heel elevation, you’re able to drive the knee further forward, placing more muscular tension on the quads.
How to Do the Heel Elevated Squat:
The hack squat machine is a very effective quad exercise. Unlike leg presses, there is very little hamstring involvement in this exercise, especially if you adopt a narrow stance. This puts more pressure on your quads.
How to Use the Hack Squat Machine:
The side lunge is a great alternative to the regular lunge that specifically targets the vastus medialis.
How to do a Side Lunge:
The front squat trains the quads just as effectively as the back squat, even when you use less weight.
Moreover, the front squat places considerably less compressive forces on your knees and lower back, which makes it a particularly good quad exercise for bad knees.
How to Do a Front Squat:
No quad strengthening exercises isolate your quads like leg extensions.
With no movement at your hip, this exercise really activates the three vastus muscles, especially the Vastus Medialis, which is especially active during the last few degrees of knee extension.
How to Do Leg Extensions:
A lot of the best quad exercises require you to use gym equipment, but luckily there are some bodyweight leg exercises that can really blast your quads. Prisoner squats are one of them, and you can do them anywhere!
How to do a Prisoner Squat:
Most quad exercises work both legs at the same time, which is undeniably important for lifting heavier weights and building muscle, but always working out both legs at the same time can lead to imbalances between your left and right legs.
It's important to have some exercises that work one leg at a time so you can put more focus into one leg and correct these imbalances.
How to do Bulgarian Split Squats:
Explosive squat jumps activate the quick-twitch muscles in the quads, especially the vastus medialis.
How to Do Squat Jumps:
Leg presses allow you to work your legs to the max with relative safety. The back support protects your back, and you can just flip the safety catchers across to take the weight if you can’t complete a rep. This makes leg presses an ideal exercise for going heavy with the weight.
How to Do Seated Leg Presses:
This cable-based squat variation is another great exercise for training one leg at a time.
The directional pull from the cable not only guides your path but also acts as a natural cue to drive the knee further forward, placing more tension on the quads.
How to Do a Low Cable Split Squat:
Now that you know the best exercises for the vastus medialis, you're all set to reach the maximum potential of your quad strength. Leg day can be hard, but with the right information, it can be a lot easier and less stressful.
Plus if you decide not to skip out on leg day, you will be rewarded with the knowledge that you are engaged in a full-body strength training routine, and you will no doubt see some tangible results!