Strong thighs make many daily tasks and sporting activities easier.
Your quadriceps, or quads for short, are the large muscles on the front of your thigh. Their primary job is extending your knee and their secondary job is flexing your hip. Quads play a major role in all kinds of running, jumping and kicking activities. Dumbbell exercises will help you strengthen and condition your quads.
Select a weight and repetition range in accordance to your fitness goals and experience. For muscular endurance, perform 15 to 20 repetitions using a light weight. For muscle growth, perform six to 12 repetitions using a moderate weight. To increase quad strength, perform one to five repetitions using a heavy weight. Perform the exercises slowly and deliberately so you can really feel your quads working.
Dumbbell Sumo Squats
Squats are traditionally performed using a barbell or body weight only. The motion of squatting is very natural and something that most of us do on a daily basis, for example, when sitting and getting up to stand. The dumbbell sumo squat is a convenient way to work your thighs as you don't need a spotter or squat rack as you would for regular barbell squats. To perform this exercise, stand a dumbbell on its end and straddle it. Your feet should be wider than shoulder-width distance. Bend your knees and squat down. Grasp the end of the dumbbell with both hands. Keeping your chest up and your lower back slightly arched, stand up. Reverse the motion, place the dumbbell back on the floor and repeat.
Step-ups are a kind of one-legged squat that not only work your quads but also develop your balance and coordination. Like the squat, the step-up is a very functional exercise that makes many physical activities easier to do. Stand facing a sturdy knee-high platform such as an exercise bench. With a dumbbell in each hand, step up onto the platform ensuring your feet are flat on the top to minimize your risk of tripping and falling. Step back down one leg at a time and repeat. You can perform this exercise by leading with the same leg for the desired number of repetitions or using an alternating leg action as preferred. Make the exercise respectively easier or harder by using a lower or higher platform.
Not only do walking lunges effectively work your thighs, they also develop your hip mobility and balance and provide a workout for your glutes and hamstrings. Because of the walking action involved, this exercise is especially good for runners. While it requires a reasonable amount of space to do it, the benefits make the effort worthwhile. With a dumbbell in each hand stand with your feet together and your arms by your sides. Take a large step forward and bend your legs. Lower your rear knee to within an inch of the floor. Your front leg should be bent to around 90 degrees so that your shin is vertical and your knee is over your heel. Step up and move into another lunge. Repeat the exercise until you have covered the desired distance or finished a certain number of reps. Perform the same number of reps on each leg.
Seated Dumbbell Leg Extensions
Though the move is not as easy as using a dedicated leg extension machine, you can isolate your quads by performing seated dumbbell leg extensions. Sit on a chair and place a single dumbbell between your feet. Grip it tightly by pressing your feet and legs together. Keep your torso upright and still and extend your legs until your knees are straight. Slowly lower your feet down to lightly touch the dumbbell to the floor and repeat. The primary limiting factor in this exercise is the amount of weight you can support between your feet. So, if you are quite strong, you may need to perform many repetitions to feel the work in your muscles.