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?
The 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.
The 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.
Leg Press Machine
Cable Leg Extension – Standing
Dumbbell Half Wall Slide
Straight Leg Kick Reverse Lunge
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.
- Hatfield, Frederick C., Fitness: The Complete Guide: Official Text for ISSA’s Certified Fitness Trainer Course, Ed. 8.6.6, ISSA, Carpinteria, CA: 2013.
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