Group 3: Quads
The quads are a simpler muscle group. They’re made up of four muscles with a common insertion point: the quad tendon right above the knee. Though they have a minor role in flexing the hip, they’re mainly called upon to extend the knee (to create a “kicking” motion from that hinge joint). To work the quads, the goal is to get the knee into the deepest flexion under load.
Heels-Elevated Dumbbell Squat
Getting the knees as far over the toes as possible will create maximum knee flexion that the quads will have to work hard to extend. Elevating the heels by standing on a slant board doubles down on the quad activity and eliminates the need for extreme ankle mobility. Moreover, it keeps the torso much more vertical, so other muscle groups like the glutes and lower back don’t have as much involvement and the quads work harder. To really double down on the benefits here, aim for a narrow stance with your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart.
How to Do It:
Stand squarely on the slant board. Point the toes outward slightly wider than the heels. Remember, since your heels are already elevated higher than your toes, there’s no need to lift them off the board as you squat. Keep pressure through the full foot. Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides like briefcases and aim to stay as vertical as possible as you descend to full depth. To keep your vertical orientation, imagine placing the weights down beside your ankles.
Focus on sets of 10 to 15 reps. The quads respond well to higher rep ranges, and the dumbbells spare your upper body the stabilizing effort required when squatting with a barbell.
(Note: the image above does not show a heels-elevated squat.)
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