March 12, 2022 10 min read
The vastus lateralis, also known as the vastus externus, is the largest and strongest quad muscle in your thigh. It works with other quad muscles to control leg movements and stabilize you.
Many exercises are designed to work your leg muscles- especially your quads- but provide little to no isolation of the distinctive muscles in your legs.
Isolating your vastus lateralis is vital for stronger and bigger thighs.
Below, we have highlighted the ten best exercises for the vastus lateralis.
The quad or quadriceps femoris muscle is one of the most prominent major muscle groups of the body. However, the quad is not one muscle but a larger muscle group made of four different muscles.
The rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermediate are the four heads that form the quads. These muscles vary in thickness, length, position, and functions during your movement. Regardless of these differences, the muscles sync together in smooth function.
The vastus lateralis is the largest and strongest head of all four heads of the quads.
The vastus lateralis muscle is found on the outside of the thighs and forms the bulk of the flesh on your legs. Like the other heads, the vastus lateralis originates from your femur or thigh bone. It begins as a flat bunch of tendons and attaches to the side of your kneecap. It joins the other quad muscles and passes over the knee to join the tibia. The vastus lateralis, together with the iliotibial band, comprises the lateral wall of the thigh.
Your legs are a big part of your day and significantly contribute to the driving power needed in exercises, and the vastus lateralis produces the bulk of the leg power needed for activities. The primary function of the vastus lateralis is to extend and straighten your knee, thereby lifting your lower leg.
It is a functional feature important in daily activities that involve standing, walking, standing from a seated position, climbing stairs.
The vastus lateralis also works with the vastus medialis muscle, another quad member, to stabilize the kneecap during movements saving you from possibly crippling injuries.
Therefore, it makes sense to strengthen this muscle to increase your performance, improve joint stability, strengthen your joints, increase your bone density, and burn calories.
So, what exercises are great for the vastus lateralis?
While it is impossible to isolate the vastus lateralis fully, few movements ensure that the muscle receives total stimulation.
Below, we have provided the ten best Vastus lateralis exercises that you may want to incorporate into you training.
The close stance leg press is also called the narrow stance leg press. It is a machine-based exercise that activates the leg muscles, particularly the quad. The close stance leg press targets the muscles of your hips and outer quads and builds strength in your lower extremities.
While it is excellent for the Vastus lateralis, it also engages your glutes and hamstrings in some of the action. This exercise is an intense lower-body muscle-training exercise that makes a perfect accessory exercise to compound exercises like squats. It can also be performed as a finisher exercise at the end of your usual workout routine.
To perform the close stance leg press:
The Vastus lateralis muscle is engaged in movements that involve extending the knees. This is why the lunge is one of the best exercises that helps to target the Vastus lateralis by challenging your balance and mobility in your legs.
The dumbbell lunge is a compound exercise that improves your performance in functional and sports activities. The dumbbell lunge can be done in the comfort of your home or the gym, given that you have dumbbells and a large area as you will need to take giant steps.
To do the dumbbell lunge:
The squat is a prevalent exercise known for conditioning the muscles in the lower extremities. However, the front squat ramps up the intensity of the conventional squat, helping you to strengthen the muscles in your hips and legs, particularly the quads and glutes.
In this weighted squat variation, the barbell is placed across the front side of your shoulders instead of directly on your upper back. It is easier on the spine and one of the best exercises for toning and strengthening your legs.
To perform the front barbell squat:
The dumbbell Bulgarian split squat exercise combines both a lunge and a squat. It is an easy yet effective way to target the vastus lateralis muscle as the exercise primarily works the quads.
The dumbbell Bulgarian split squat is a compound single-leg exercise that activates the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It challenges your balance and mobility, strengthening your legs and improving stamina.
To perform the dumbbell Bulgarian split squat:
The hack squat is a splendid exercise that targets the outer quads, core, and other major muscles in the lower extremity. It is a beginner-friendly exercise and a great way to introduce your muscles to weighted squats.
The hack squat is done using the hack machine, which safely supports the weight, leaving you to make the movements with your legs. It provides stability and assists you with your form, so you don't have to worry about nuances in your body alignment.
To do the hack squat:
The sissy squat is an advanced exercise that involves leaning back at the knees while your feet are locked in a position. It is a superb way to build your quads, strengthen your core muscles, and condition the muscles in your hips and legs.
For understandable reasons that often hinge on its complexity and the insane degree of stamina to perform it, many gym enthusiasts usually steer clear of the sissy squat. The sissy squat is a difficult feat to perform without support, so to achieve this, you use a sissy squat bench.
To perform this exercise:
The sissy squat is a demanding exercise and requires all the energy and concentration you can muster.
While exercises are great, stretching is crucial for releasing tight vastus lateralis muscles. Some exercises you can perform include:
The kneeling quad stretch is an easy and effective stretch for loosening the quad muscles and hip flexors. It doesn't require any equipment and can be done anywhere, at any time.
To do the kneeling quad stretch:
The hero pose is a yoga pose designed to improve flexibility in the knees, ankles, and thigh muscles. It stretches the quads, hams, and claves, giving you a much-welcome relief from tight and cramped muscles. The hero pose is also a great way to counter lousy posture gotten from bending over desks or sitting all day.
To perform the hero pose:
A reclined hero pose is an advanced form of the hero pose that requires you to lay on your back in a full hero pose stretch. It provides a more intense quad stretch than the hero pose does.
To perform this stretch:
The standing quad stretch loosens the outer quad sweep, making it a great way to stretch the vastus lateralis. It improves flexibility and is a great warm-up or finisher stretch.
To perform the standing quad stretch:
All the exercises elicit muscle response for more significant quad muscle mass and better strength in the legs. To help your vastus lateralis muscle grow faster, couple your exercises with the MASS STACK to build lean muscle and muscle fullness.
If thick, strong, and toned thighs are top on your gym wish list, you need to start working on your vastus lateralis muscle. This can easily be done by engaging in exercises that focus on engaging the outer and side of your thighs, also known as the Quad outer sweep.
These ten exercises we have provided are guaranteed to provide you with bulkier thighs. Add these exercises to your keg day routine to expedite your chance to get muscular thighs more befitting to your physique. For better results, pair these exercises with the ten best quad exercises for super strong legs.