Try These 5 Lunge Variations for Quads Size and Strength

Lunges are one of the most effective ways to increase both size and strength in the quads. In this article we provide you with 5 different lunge variations you can use for your quads.

5 min read
Sean Klein
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Sean Klein
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In This Resource
  • Anatomy of The Quadriceps
  • Why Lunges Are An Effective Quad Exercise
  • Not All Lunges Are The Same
  • Try These 5 Lunge Variations for Quadriceps
  • Reference

Anatomy of The Quadriceps

The quadriceps, often referred to as the quads, are a group of four muscles located at the front of the thigh. They play a crucial role in activities like walking, running, jumping, and squatting. Here are the four muscles that make up the quadriceps:

  • Rectus Femoris: This is the most visible muscle of the quadriceps and runs down the middle of the thigh. It originates from the hip bone and attaches to the patella (kneecap) through the quadriceps tendon. It helps in flexing the hip and extending the knee.
  • Vastus Lateralis: This muscle is located on the outer side of the thigh. It starts from the femur (thigh bone) and also inserts into the quadriceps tendon. Its main function is knee extension.
  • Vastus Medialis: Positioned on the inner side of the thigh, this muscle also originates from the femur and joins the quadriceps tendon. It's essential in stabilizing the patella and aids in knee extension.
  • Vastus Intermedius: This muscle is situated beneath the rectus femoris and covers the front of the femur. It also attaches to the quadriceps tendon, contributing to knee extension.
  • These muscles work together to straighten the knee and also help in hip flexion. Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps, like squats and lunges, are beneficial for overall leg strength and stability.

    Why Lunges Are An Effective Quad Exercise

    The lunge is a single leg exercise that requires activation from primarily the quadriceps, hamstrings and the glutes whilst also involving many other lower body musculature . This is why lunges are an extremely effective tool when it comes to both strengthening and muscle gain of the quadriceps. They can and should be used in conjunction with bi-lateral squats like the back squat or box squat for best results.

    Not All Lunges Are The Same

    Not all lunges are exactly the same and therefore some lunges target different muscles groups and are for different populations (beginner/advanced). Thats why we are providing you with lunges that you can be sure will target the muscles of the quadriceps. Although there are some nuances to lunge variations, a great deal of them can be used to work on your quads while a few more niche variations that put emphasis on mobility or stability of the hips should not, for example, the 45 degree lunge .

    Try These 5 Lunge Variations for Quadriceps

    Although technically I cannot call the goblet kickstand pistol squat a lunge variation, it is so similar that I am going to include it in the list, especially because the fact that the feet are much closer together than in a lunge is what enables it to put so much pressure on the knee. The exercise can be a great way to isolate the muscles of the quadriceps particularly the vastus medialis.

    The DB Quad dominant reverse lunge even had the word quad in the name, thats because the advancing of the knee and prolonged placement of the back foot put a great deal of torque through the quad of the front leg. This exercise does not require heavy loads to be effective, which is very useful when you only have access to lighter loads.

    This is a typical lunge variation, which doesn’t take away from how effective it is. Building high amounts of volume in this exercise is very achievable, making it very effective for quad hypertrophy. Although this is being performed with a KB it can also be done with a DB.

    The barbell squat in lunge is for more advanced individuals who are looking to use more load through the lunge position. This will require a lot of work for both the quad and the glute, cuasing strength and hypertrophy gains in both muscle groups.

    The rear foot elevated squat in lunge, also known as the Bulgarian split squat, is one of the most challenging exercises you can do in the gym. It is known for how uncomfortable it can be, so make sure you have a competent lunge technique before trying it out. These can be very tempting to rush through because they are so uncomfortable, the key is to move slowly with control and just move through the discomfort with control.


  • Hefzy MS, al Khazim M, Harrison L. Co-activation of the hamstrings and quadriceps during the lunge exercise. Biomed Sci Instrum. 1997;33:360-5. PMID: 9731386.
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    This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

    Sean Klein


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