What’s it all about, Quadies?

What’s it all about, Quadies?

Why are the quadriceps so important to our bodies? Why do we want to keep them fit and strong? What are the benefits?

Glad you asked!

Functionally speaking, four muscles that make up the quadriceps (quads); the Vastus Medialis, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius, and the Rectus Femoris. These muscles work together primarily to move the knee. The Rectus Femoris is also involved in the rotation of the hips. This group of muscles, we call the quads, are involved in nearly every movement of the legs and work in concert with other leg muscles, such as the hamstrings, when you run and/or exercise and move in one way or another. Also, because the quadriceps extend over the kneecap (patella), they help keep your kneecap in its proper position, in a groove, at the end of your thigh bone. For more related information please see the following link:

Quadriceps

But wait, what’s this? There’s more! Recently it has been discovered that there is another muscle in the thigh! The TVI or Tensor of the Vastus Intermedius. It begins at the upper, outer part of the femur, between the Vastus Lateralis and the Vastus Intermedius origins, and it is a short muscle that continues down the leg until it becomes part of the quadriceps tendon and attaches to the patella. Why did it take so long to discover this TVI? Possibly because its location is one that gets relatively little surgical intervention.   For this reason it has had little exposure, and therefore little exposure to study. It is small and close to the other muscles of the quads and can be easily overlooked, and, from person to person, its presentation in the body can vary making it less likely to be documented. So this little guy can be hard to find depending upon the individual. Reasons why we are sure this it is it’s own entity, and not just a variation of the other quadricep muscles, can be found at the following link (gosh what are we gonna call the quadriceps now? The pentaceps?):

TVI

TVI300

Ok, so we understand the quads a little better but what do they do for us functionally and what are good reasons to keep them fit and strong? Quads work together with other legs muscles, as we have mentioned, but keeping them fit and strong can actually boost your metabolism. Adding fat-burning lean muscle tissue to the leg muscles drives up your metabolism, which helps us keep our fat weight down. As we age, in fact after puberty, our metabolism gradually slows and we lose muscle tissue at a faster rate. This whole activity speeds up as we age, so to battle this, we need to continually keep all our muscles fit. Because the quads are the biggest muscle group in the body, it follows that keeping them fit will most certainly help boost your metabolism. Here is a quote from Health.com that will make you think:

“Not only does muscle weigh more than fat, but it uses more energy, too. The average woman in her 30s who strength-trains 30 to 40 minutes twice a week for four months will increase her resting metabolism by 100 calories a day. That means you’re resetting your thermostat to keep running at that rate even on the days when you don’t make it to the gym…”

Another fun fact from Fitness.mercola.com:

“For every 10 pounds of muscle you gain, you burn about 500 to 700 more calories per day than before.”

So, weight lifting for the entire body is excellent for your health and well-being, but right now we are just going to focus on the quads. What are some great exercises to build these muscles? Let’s start with the squat. Like them or not, they are an efficient and excellent form of exercise to build strong legs. Of course, you can always do the leg press but according to Bodybuilding.com:

“… exercises where the body moves instead of the weight have been shown to release larger amounts of hormonal substances and therefore speed up protein metabolism and growth. By involving the balancing muscles a squat gives you a total body workout in the aerobic sense to supplement their weekly anaerobic fix and this may lead to new growth overall. So squats are an integral part of a training regimen and one of the few exercises you can and should include all the time or at the very least most of the time.”

For more information about how many squats to do and how, see the Doctors Health Press recent article on the subject at:

Doing Squats

Here are a few more great websites with lots of information on the subject:

More Squat Exercises

Proper Squats

So now we know how to strengthen our quads, how to we stretch them.  Here is a great website that discusses the topic, there are just a few great stretches you need (never stretch your muscles when they have not been warmed up first via some form of exercise for at least 15 to 30 minutes):

“Benefits of Lunges:

The lunge is a lower-body exercise that works several muscle groups at once. The targeted muscles include the glutes in your hips and butt along with the hamstrings and quadriceps in your thighs. The calf muscles in your lower legs, your abdominal muscles and your back muscles act as stabilizers during this exercise. Lunges also help your body burn calories for weight loss. According to Harvard Health Publications, a 155-pound person can burn up approximately 55 calories with 10 minutes of calisthenic exercises, such as lunges.”

Here is a great link on how to do a proper lunge and other variations on the lunge exercise:

Lunge Basics

I think we have covered all the basics on the importance of keeping your quads healthy and strong, so get out there and start building lean muscle. Go to a strength training class at your local gym or do these exercises on your own at home. Cycling outdoors and indoor cycling classes are another great way to strengthen your legs, especially the quads. Teaching cycle classes has done wonders to tone and shape my legs, and especially the quads. So choose a mode of exercise that makes you feel motivated and get moving and keep moving!*

*(Please seek the advice of a medical professional prior to beginning a new exercise regime)

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”   – Christopher Robin to Pooh

2 thoughts on “What’s it all about, Quadies?

  1. Janet

    Thank you, Laurie! I’m always learning something new after reading your articles. Keep on teaching me!

    – Janet

    P.S. Thanks for your prayers. My husband is doing well.

    1. Laurie

      Thanks so much for your support! And I will continue to pray 🙂

      Laurie

Leave a Comment