Check this out: ever wondered if Batman would be even half as tough-looking with an upper body so ripped that he could glide off a cliff with legs like matchsticks? I’m betting the Joker would be in stitches (pun intended).
Alright, folks, for those gym regulars, you know the drill – a killer set of lats should rock that V-taper or sweep from your waist to your shoulders. Just like Batman’s little demonstration earlier. That V-taper doesn’t just make you look like a superhero; it’s not the only sweep that makes a difference in the world of bodybuilding aesthetics.
Quad sweep, in which the thighs widen below the waist and then contract back in toward the knees, is just as crucial as upper body sweep. Let me make it simple to understand: Having broad shoulders and a broad upper back, in addition to a thin waist, creates a desirable V-taper. What I’ve been telling my clients in my almost two decades of experience as a fitness trainer is, If you don’t have an outstanding quad sweep to match the upper body V-taper then your overall look would look out of proportion.
In this post, I will tell you everything there is to know when it comes to building quad sweep that dominates on stage, but first, let me tell you what exactly is quad sweep.
What Is Quad Sweep?
Alright, I am going to break down the quad sweep without any fitness jargon.
Your quadriceps have four parts: vastus medialis, vastus intermedius (hanging out in the mix), rectus femoris, and the real star, vastus lateralis. Now, this last one is the key to the quad sweep, in other words, what we call the “quad sweep” is actually caused by the development of outer quads.
I would go as far as telling you to forget about having beefy legs; the quad sweep is where the real magic happens. Even if your legs aren’t the biggest, a solid quad sweep makes them stand out. It’s that outer part of your thigh, the vastus lateralis, creating a curved effect from your hip down to the knee. It does work as secret sauce for that X-frame look when your shoulders and waist join the party.
Why does it matter? Because a well-defined quad sweep changes the game. It’s not just about leg size; it’s about that outer quad appeal, aka the “quad sweep.”
Now, the outer quad isn’t just for show. It’s a functional powerhouse. It handles knee extension, takes the impact during your runs and jumps, and gives sturdy support to your hip and kneecap. Strengthening that outer quad isn’t just about looks; it’s about stepping up your leg game – getting them bigger, stronger, and stage-ready. Meet the quad sweep – your pass to leg day awesomeness!
The 7 Best Outer Quad Exercises
1. Front Squats
For a powerful and muscular lower body, nothing beats the squat. As a matter of fact, the squat is one of the best exercises for boosting strength and power and gaining muscular growth if done correctly.
Squats can be broken down into three categories: high-bar squats, low-bar squats, and front squats. If a quad sweep is your major fitness objective, front squats should be your go-to exercise. Studies have essentially found very similar results when comparing muscle activation during front and back squats, as well as full range of motion(“ass-to-grass”) and parallel squats.
When performing front squats, it is more effective to maintain a narrow stance to develop an exceptional quad sweep. Front squats are a difficult but very beneficial compound exercise that will strengthen your abs and legs.
How To Do Front Squats
- Put a barbell in a squat rack so that it is level with the middle of your chest.
- Step under the bar and place the barbell across your upper chest and shoulders.
- Push your elbows forward and grab the barbell with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your elbows up to make sure the barbell stays in place across your chest.
- Take the barbell off the rack and step backward with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Take a deep breath to strengthen your core and keep your torso straight.
- Keep your eyes straight ahead and bend your knees to lower into a squat.
- Stop when you reach the depth you want. To get the most out of the exercise, you should try to reach at least parallel.
- Exhale as you push hard through your forefoot to get back up on your feet.
- Repeat for the number of reps and sets you want, making sure to reset and brace before each rep by taking a breath.
2. Close Stance/Narrow Stance Leg Press
If you’re unable to squat for some reason, you may still grow your quads by doing the leg press, which is one of the most popular exercises in gyms throughout the world. Moreover, it’s great if you’re looking for a supplementary lower-body compound exercise. Assuming you are doing the exercise correctly, you will be able to work out your entire lower body without putting too much pressure on your lower back.
Another benefit of using a leg press is that you may isolate your quadriceps from a variety of angles by shifting your foot placement. By shifting your feet to a higher or lower position on the pad, you can target your glutes or quadriceps, respectively.
Putting your feet lower on the foot pad than usual and closer together than usual is a very simple yet effective way to develop an outer quad sweep. Make sure you feel each rep in the outer quads by using a lighter weight.
How To Do Close Stance/Narrow Stance Leg Press
- Adjust the leg press machine’s backrest and footpad so that your knees form a 90-degree angle when you’re seated.
- The feet should be placed on the footpad and should be closer together than hip-width apart. Place your feet on the lower half of the platform to target the quads.
- Grab the side handles and keep your gaze ahead of you.
- You can move the platform away from you by pushing with your feet, which will also unlock the safety bars.
- Put your lower back against the backrest and make sure your legs are out straight but not locked out.
- Inhale and bend your knees to slowly lower the platform toward your body until your legs are bent about 90 degrees.
- Exhale and push through your feet to work your quads and move the platform back to the starting position.
- Repeat as many times as you want. Make sure to put the safety lock back on when you’re done with the set.
- Repeat for the prescribed number of reps.
3. Dumbbell Forward Lunges
When you move your leg forward and do knee extension exercises, you use the outer quad a lot. The dumbbell lunge is basically a big step forward. Even though this exercise can be done without weights, using dumbbells adds more work for the upper leg and buttock muscles. The main goal of the lunge is to work the quadriceps muscles, One of the four quad muscles, the rectus femoris, also pulls your torso toward your thigh as a hip flexor.
When done properly, dumbbell lunges are one of the best ways to target the outer quads. They also challenge your balance, coordination, and core strength. Lunges with dumbbells are an easy way to work your quads that can be done anywhere you have a set of dumbbells and a clear spot on the floor.
How To Do Dumbbell Forward Lunges
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand while standing straight. Your arms should be by your sides. Palms should be facing the thighs, and the feet a little less than shoulder-width apart.
- Take a big step forward with your right leg, landing on the heel, as you inhale.
- Bend your right knee so that your right thigh is almost parallel to the ground. In the lunge position, the left knee is bent and the weight is on the toes.
- To get back to the starting position, step your right foot back when you exhale.
- Do it again with your left leg.
4. Dumbbell Split Squat
The dumbbell split squat is another great way to build a strong quad sweep. This is a great way to work out all the main muscles in your lower body. With this exercise, you also work your core, which must work to keep your body balanced.
The main difference between lunges and split squats is whether or not the feet move. When an athlete lunges, they can move forward, back, or even both ways. Most of an athlete’s movement during a split squat is up and down.
How To Do Dumbbell Split Squat
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let them hang by your sides as you take a split stance.
- To increase the range of motion, put the back foot on a bench or any stable elevated surface.
- Start by going down, which you do by bending your knee and hip to lower your body. Keep your posture straight as you move.
- As you complete the move, make sure that your front knee is in line with your foot.
- At the bottom of the movement, push through the heel to extend the knee and hip and return to the starting position.
5. Hack Squat
The hack squat is another good compound move that works your outer quad and helps you get that insane sweep. Again, this move is similar to the squat or leg press in how it works, so you don’t have to do all three in the same workout. Instead, use all three at different points in your leg program.
As with the leg press, how the muscle fibers are worked depends on where your feet are on the pad. Place your feet lower and closer together on the foot pad to put more emphasis on the outer quad.
How To Do Hack Squat
- Load the machine with your desired amount of weight. As a beginner, it’s recommended to get familiar with the movement of the machine before adding a bunch of plates.
- Step into the machine, placing your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders and back against the pads.
- Release the safety handles, inhale, and lower down, bending your knees until they reach a 90-degree angle.
- Pause here, then push up through the back of your feet to extend your legs back to the starting position.
6. Sissy Squat
The sissy squat may sound easy, but don’t let the name mislead you; it’s actually one of the most difficult (and humbling) exercises there are. In addition to being a fantastic drill in of of itself, creating an awesome quad sweep is a major benefit.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is widely credited with popularizing the sissy squat. Even without added weight, this demanding exercise places a great deal of strain on the quadriceps, abdominals, and hips. However, do not perform this exercise if you have debilitating knee pain while doing it.
How To Do Sissy Squat
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart on the platform of a sissy squat bench. You should put the tops of your feet under the padded foot support bar.
- Set your calves on the adjustable leg pad to lock your feet in place.
- Pull your shoulder blades back and put your hands on the outside of your hips to feel more stable and connect your mind and muscles.
- Squat by bending your knees and leaning back as far as you can without losing your balance and control.
- Put a lot of pressure on your quads to lift your body weight back up to where it was at the beginning.
- Repeat until you’ve done as many reps and sets as you want.
7. Internal Rotation Leg Extension
The leg extension is one of the best ways to focus on the quads without tiring out other groups of muscles. Changing the position of your legs while doing leg extensions lets you target different parts of the thighs. Some studies have shown that turning your legs out (externally rotating them) works the vastus medialis (the teardrop-shaped muscle on the inside of your leg) more than turning your legs in (internally rotating them), which works the vastus lateralis, or outer quads.
By turning your toes in a small amount (less than 45 degrees), you can make your outer quads stand out. This can put more pressure on the knee joint, so start with a lighter weight than you would with a regular leg extension. If your knees still hurt, skip the internal toe rotation and do regular leg extensions instead.
How To Do Internal Rotation Leg Extension
- Sit down in a leg extension machine. The footpad should rest on the tops of your shins, just above your ankles.
- Choose an appropriate weight and remember to start with a lighter load if this is a new type of exercise for you.
- Hold the handles close to your sides and keep your upper back straight by looking straight ahead and tucking your chin.
- Pull your quads together to straighten your knees and lift your ankle pad up.
- Stop when your knees are fully extended but not locked out or too far out.
- Wait for 1–2 seconds, and then slowly move the pad back to where it started.
- Repeat until you’ve reached the number of reps and sets you want.
The outer quads, vastus lateralis, or the ‘quad sweep,’ are the largest and outermost muscle of the quadriceps. You can visualize a bow shape beginning at your outer hip and ending at your knee with the outer quad’sweep.
Activating the vastus lateralis is so easy to do that it’s almost ridiculous – Bring your foot position in! It is recommended to workout the outer quads twice weekly to keep the muscle in good condition. In order to increase muscle and strength, you should perform at least eight sets per week, preferably over the course of two or three separate workouts.
Your upper legs will look bigger and rounder after you’ve worked on your outer quadriceps. The vastus lateralis not only protects the kneecap and hip from injury during impact sports like running and jumping, but it also helps stabilize the kneecap and hip. If you want to see improvements in your performance on lower-body movements like squats and lunges, working on your outer quads is a must.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.