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The quadriceps femoris muscle

(M. quadriceps femoris)


The m. quadriceps femoris is a sceletal muscle of four on the front side of the thigh. 

It consists of these four heads:

- Musculus rectus femoris (straight muscle of the thigh)

- Musculus vastus medialis (large muscle situated towards the center)

- Musculus vastus intermedius (middle, large muscle), and

- Musculus vastus lateralis (outer, large muscle).

All hads originate in the femur and the ilium and insert in a common final tendon on the patella. The tendons continue as patella tendon below the kneecap.

All together, its parts build a powerful muscle which is essential for daily motions of a human being.
A strong opponent is the gluteal muscle, the m. glutaeus maximus. While this one causes a stretching in the hips while tensing, the hips are bent by the m. rectus femoris (rectus thigh muscle, a part of the m. quadriceps femoris).
Another function of the rectus thigh muscle is lifting the stretched leg. However, the muscle cannot develop so much power like with a bent knee. The stronger pre-tension causes a more efficient stroke. 

All four parts together do the stretching in the knee joint. A basic function in daily motion of a human being (i.e. while straightening up from squat).



M. rectus femoris (one head of the thigh muscle (lat. quadriceps) of four)



Caput rectum: ilium
Catup reflexum: acetabulum

Base: Kneecap, tuberositas tibiae

Bending the hip joint, stretching the knee joint, lifting the stretched leg



M. vastus lateralis (external thigh muscle)


Origin: Lateral on the thigh bone
Base: Kneecap, tuberositas tibiae

Stretching in knee joint (lateral)



M. vastus intermedius (central thigh muscle)


Origin: In front of the thigh bone

Kneecap, tuberositas tibiae


Stretching in knee joint (central)



M. vastus medialis (inner thigh muscle)


Origin: Inner surface of thigh bone

Kneecap, tuberositas tibiae


Stretching in knee joint (towards the centre)



Exercise examples





Course of motion:

  • Place feet shoulder-width apart on the floor
  • Toes show slightly outwards
  • Hold the barbell in upper grip behind the head (put on trapezius or deltoid muscle)
  • Lower by bending the knees
  • Push backwards the buttocks
  • Move downwards until thighs are almost parallel to the floor
  • Tense abdominal and lower back muscles
  • Keep heels on the floor
  • Keep back upright as far as possible
  • Stretch the legs without complete stretching of knees



  • Inhale while bending the legs
  • Exhale while stretching the legs


Advices of proof:

  • Avoid bending the back (active tensing of abdominal muscles)
  • Do not let fall knees inwards or outwards
  • Put appropriately the bar on the neck muscles
  • Avoid lowering to deep
  • Do not lead knees too far over the toes
  • Avoid stretching the knees
  • Adjust the weight to your training level



  • Barbell in front (put on the front part of the deltoid muscle)
  • Dumbbells instead of barbell - on the sides of the body
  • One-legged squats (with and without additional weight)
  • Leg press (alternatively)
  • Lunge
  • Wall sitting
  • Sumo Squats


Leg extension


Course of motion:

  • Jam the legs behind the foot upholstery (upholstery on the lower shinbone)
  • Choose a sitting position so your knees are on the level of the centre of rotation
  • Thighs are hip-width
  • Knees show forwards
  • Pull toes towards the body
  • Keep torso upright, tense trunk muscles
  • Stretch legs by tensing the thigh muscle
  • Maximum motion amplitude
  • Remain on highest point for a short time
  • Then move slowly and controlled downwards
  • Bring feet behind the knees
  • Keep tension on thighs



  • Inhale while bending the legs
  • Exhale while stretching the legs


Advices of proof:

  • Keep tension in torso 
  • Do not turn feet too far back
  • Do not turn kneecaps outwards
  • Breath regularly
  • Adjust weight to the training level (demand, but not too easy or too difficult)



  • Leg stretching with Thera-Band
  • Squats


Leg press


Course of motion:

  • Take your position on the leg press
  • Lean back the back
  • Feet stand hip-width apart against the provided platform
  • Starting position: bent knees near to the chest
  • Thighs are parallel
  • Hands hold contact to the handgrips
  • Tense trunk muscles
  • Stretch legs and push platform forwards
  • Keep the position with legs slightly bent
  • Return slowly and controlled the platform
  • Hold tension on thighs



  • Inhale while bending the legs
  • Exhale while stretching the legs


Advices of proof:

  • Do not completely release the tension
  • Avoid stretching the knees (completely)
  • Do not bend the knees inwards, keep them parallel
  • Turn toes slightly outwards
  • Mind regular breathing
  • Avoid bending the knees too much (keep knees behind the toes)
  • Adjust weight to the training level



  • Squats with and without weight
  • Leg press in lying position
  • Leg extension
  • Wall sitting
  • Lunge
  • Sumo Squats


You can create a diversified and motivating workout of the front side of the thighs by means of different training equipment. Use the following training equipment for strengthening your thigh muscles:



back to muscle guide overview

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