The quadriceps is one of the most important muscle groups in the leg. Quads help us lift heavier weights, jump higher, run faster, and prevent knee injuries. They also help to improve sports performance.
We need to work on our quadriceps muscles to make them bigger, but it can be hard to do it with just free weights.
Here, the gym machines play an important role in building bigger and stronger quads.
Gym machines offer several advantages over free weights for quad training. Machines allow you to isolate and work all four quad muscles to stimulate greater muscle growth.
This blog will discuss the following:
- Top gym machines for building bigger quads.
- How to perform quad exercises with proper form.
- Benefits of using gym machines for quad workouts.
- A complete workout program for developing impressive quad mass.
Let’s dive in!
Top Gym Machines For Quad Workouts With Exercises
While barbell squats are a staple for building a quad, adding strength machines to your program is important to make your quad bigger and stronger.
The top 7 workout machines to add for a complete quad workout.
1. Leg Press Machine
The leg press machine is very common in gyms, and for good reason. It’s a safe and effective way to target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
It has a seat where you sit back and use your legs to push a platform away.
Unlike traditional squats, this machine is popular because it helps beginners work out their lower body without hurting their back and shoulders.
You can adjust the platform angle and foot placement depending on the machine.
- The primary muscles the Leg Press works are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus Maximus.
- Secondary muscles worked are the calves and, to a lesser extent, the lower back and hip adductors.
How Does It Work?
- The seat should be adjusted so that your feet are on the platform when you sit on the machine.
- You should place your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform.
- Different foot positions can target different muscle groups.
- Extend your legs to push the platform away.
- Do not lock your knees at full extension.
- Slowly return to the starting position by bending your knees.
- Inhale while lowering the weight and exhale while pressing it up.
Know More: 100+ Leg Exercises (With Images)
2. Leg Extension Machine
The Leg Extension Machine is a piece of gym equipment designed to target and isolate the quadriceps muscles.
It typically consists of a seat, a backrest, and a padded bar for ankle support.
This machine is popular because it trains the quadriceps without the strain on the back and shoulders.
Different positions of the toes work different quad muscles.
- Pointing your toes directly upward hits all sections of the quadriceps equally,
- Toes inward and internally rotate the tibia to target the inner quad.
- Placing your toes outward externally rotates the tibia to hit the outer quad.
- Rectus Femoris: Located in the middle of the thigh.
- Vastus Lateralis: On the outer side of the thigh.
- Vastus Medialis: On the inner side of the thigh.
- Vastus Intermedius: Positioned between the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis.
How Does It Work?
- Sit on a Leg extension machine with your legs under the pad and with your back pressed firmly against the back pad.
- Grab the handles or the seat edges behind your hips and keep your upper body steady.
- Extend your legs as far as possible in a smooth movement until fully extended to get a maximum thigh contraction.
- Contract your quads at the top and slowly lower the weight under control to the starting position.
3. Hack Squat Machine
The Hack Squat Machine is a specialized gym equipment designed for lower body strength training. It typically consists of a platform and a sliding backrest or shoulder pads.
Users stand on the platform with their shoulders against the pads, then push the platform upward to perform a squatting motion.
The machine allows for a controlled and guided range of motion. You can also adjust your foot placement to target different areas of the quadriceps.
- A wider stance emphasizes inner quads.
- While a narrower stance targets outer quads.
The hack squat will target Quadriceps, glutes & hip flexors and also involves calves and hamstrings.
How To Do
- Get on a hack squat machine, place your back flat against the back pad, and get your shoulders under the support.
- Grip the side handles of the machine.
- Place your legs in a shoulder-width stance with your toes pointed out slightly.
- Straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bend your knees as you slowly lower the weight.
- Go down until parallel to the platform. Hold for a count of one.
- Then, return to the start position by pushing down through your heels and extending your legs.
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4. Smith Machine For Quad Workout
The Smith Machine is a gym apparatus known for its guided barbell system. This allows movements to be safer and more controlled than traditional free weights.
It is often used for various exercises such as squats and Smith machine bench presses.
The muscles targeted during quad workouts on the Smith Machine can vary based on the exercises selected. However, here are some of the most commonly targeted quad muscles:
- Smith Machine Squats: It is a compound exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Smith Machine Lunges: Emphasize quad engagement by focusing on each leg individually.
- Smith Machine Step-Ups: Target the quadriceps and glutes.
- Smith Machine Bulgarian Split Squats: This variation focuses on each leg independently and also promotes quad development.
How to Do Smith Machine Squat
The Smith machine squat allows you to squat a heavy weight safely without a spotter. Just make sure that you use the safety pins.
- Stand in a smith machine so that the barbell is behind your shoulders and slightly below your neck, grasping it just outside your shoulders. Twist the bar to unrack it.
- Grasp the barbell with palms facing forward and hands wider than shoulder width apart.
- With your chest high, your head forward, and your back slightly arched, bend your knees and hips.
- As you slowly lower the barbell, inhale and get into a squat position.
- When your thighs parallel the floor, exhale and push off with your legs to reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
5. Cable Machine for Quad Exercises
The Double Pulley Cable Machine can be used for many exercises targeting the quads. Unlike traditional free weights, this cable machine ensures consistent tension throughout each movement. It allows for effective isolation and muscle engagement.
The machine has two adjustable pulleys that can be moved in different ways to help you work your quad muscles stronger, and bigger.
The cable machine workout can work all your legs major and smaller muscles by using different attachments, angles, and weights.
Here are some effective quad exercises you can perform on this versatile machine:
- Cable Squat: Build quality muscle mass in the legs.
- Cable Lunges: Build leg strength and stability and improve balance and coordination.
- Cable Standing Hip Abduction: Targets the outer thighs and glutes
- Cable Pull-Through Lunges: Engage quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
- Cable Kickbacks: Targets the glutes and hamstrings, providing a dynamic quad workout.
- Cable Deadlift: Target multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, obliques, and abs.
- Cable Front Squat: Primarily targets the quadriceps but also engages the glutes, hamstrings, and core.
- Cable Step Up: This exercise targets the quadriceps and also involves calves and glutes & hip flexors.
How To Do Front Cable Squat
The squat and the cable front squat work the same target and synergistic muscles. However, the cable front squat recruits more stabilizer muscles, including various back muscles, your shoulders, and chest.
The cable front squat is the best option for leg workout, it is more advanced than the standard squat.
- Stand in front of a low-pulley cable machine with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Then, pull the ropes up to your chest and hold.
- Maintain the natural arch in your lower back and keep your head directed forward.
- Perform a squat, bending your knees and pushing your hips back to lower yourself until your thighs parallel the floor.
- From this position, push yourself back to the starting point.
6. Sissy Squat Machine
The sissy squat machine, while not as widely used as other leg machines, offers a unique and effective way to target your quads and other leg muscles.
It has a platform and a footrest that help you do a specific type of squat that works the quadriceps muscles.
It allows for a deep squat without putting excessive stress on the knees.
How To Do Front Machine Sissy Squat
- Set up the Sissy Squat Machine according to your height.
- The footrest should be positioned comfortably to secure your feet.
- Stand on the machine with your feet hip-width apart.
- Secure your feet against the footrest.
- Slowly lean back by bending your knees and lowering your upper body.
- Continue to lower your body unit quad parallel to the floor. Hold for a few sec here.
- Now, raise and go back to the starting position.
7. Pendulum Squat Machine
The pendulum squat machine offers a dynamic and effective way to train your legs, with its distinctive curved arm and counterbalance system.
Users can move in a biomechanically efficient manner thanks to the machine’s natural squatting motion.
- Primary: Quadriceps
- Secondary: Glutes, hamstrings, calves
How To Use It:
- Set the machine to your height.
- Stand on the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place your shoulders against the shoulder pads or backrest for stability.
- Hold on to the handles provided for additional stability and control.
- Descend under control until knees are at a 90-degree angle
- Once your thighs are nearly parallel to the ground,
- Exhale and push your feet through the platform to return to the starting position.
- Do 8–12 repetitions for 3–4 sets.
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Gym machines can be a great way to build bigger, stronger quads, and reduce injury risk. Move your feet in different ways to work on all parts of your legs.
Some of the most popular gym machines for quad workouts include the leg press machine, leg extension machine, and hack squat machine.
You can also use a sissy squat machine and cable machines to strengthen your quads.
So the next time you’re at the gym, don’t forget these powerful tools for building your quads.
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.