Muscles of the Month: Quadriceps and Hamstrings


photo credit: Dreamstime


photo credit: Dreamstime

This month we continue our muscle series by reviewing the quadriceps and hamstrings together. These two muscle groups work in concert to facilitate everyday activities such as walking, running, jumping, and moving our torso.

Although you can’t see them unless looking in the mirror, everyone else notices them when you’re wearing shorts! Yes, hamstrings are the muscles at the back of your thighs. The quadricep muscles (quads), on the other hand, are at the front, and should be stronger than your hamstrings for effective leg functioning.

Besides aiming for shapely legs, work on these muscles to create strong legs, which are your body’s foundation. They not only help us move, but also provide stability for the rest of our body when performing other actions.

Where are the Quads and Hamstrings?

IMG_3164The quads are made up of 4 muscles, which all help in extending the knee.

  • Rectus Femoris – at front of thigh, which also helps in hip flexion
  • Vastus Medialis – towards inside of thigh
  • Vastus Lateralis – largest muscle of quads and located towards outside of thigh
  • Vastus Intermedius – sits under rectus femoris muscle in upper two-thirds area of femur

For a visual of where each of the muscles is located within the quad group, visit Inner Body.

IMG_4394The hamstrings are made up of 3 muscles, which are responsible for extending the hip, flexing the knee, and rotating the hip and knee.

  • Bicep Femoris – consisting of a long head and a short head
  • Semitendinosus – long muscle that looks like a band and is located towards inside of thigh
  • Semimembranosus – third hamstring muscle; deepest muscle located in back of thigh

Explore a visual of these muscles by visiting Inner Body.

As you can see when comparing the functions of each of these muscle groups, the hamstrings are antagonist to the quads and help perform the opposite actions from the quads.

Exercises for Quads and Hamstrings

Check out these exercises to work these two groups of muscles.

Bodyweight Squats

Leg Press Machine

Cable Leg Extension – Standing

Dumbbell Half Wall Slide

Straight Leg Kick Reverse Lunge

Bent-legged Deadlifts

Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

You will feel the burn after doing these exercises!  If you haven’t challenged your hamstrings and quadriceps for a while, you may be stiff and sore just walking up stairs after these exercises so be sure to stretch well.


Recipe of the Week:  Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

About aspireperspirenourish

We are sisters who share a passion for healthy living! Each of us brings different knowledge and skills to this project, some similar experiences and a whole lot of shared passion for mindful, fit and nutritious living. This blog is our way of spreading our knowledge and passion about motivation, fitness and nutrition for everyday living. It is also our forum for finding like-minded people from whom we can learn. To learn more about us, please see our "About" page.
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