Increase Quad Strength

Running along the water

Bret Lorenzo, director of our Boardman Clinic, shares with you some PT techniques to help increase quad strength. These exercises may be appropriate for anyone who is preparing for or recovering from knee surgery, or experiencing generalized weakness in their lower body.

Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Bret Lorenzo, and I’m a physical therapist here at our office in Boardman, Ohio. I’m a facility director and physical therapist here.

I just want to share a little bit of information with you about some basic exercises that can be used to increase quad strength. These are appropriate for people before or after knee surgery and also just for generalized weakness. If you feel like you’ve lost some strength in your legs, these might be appropriate for you.

Just a little disclaimer, these exercises are designed to be basic and should not be painful or increase your discomfort at all. If it does, then I would not perform them. Also, if you have any questions or concerns, just give us a call here at our office or reach out to us on Facebook.

The first exercise we’re going to perform is called a quad set. You can do this either in your bed or on the couch. You could do it sitting up or laying down. You’re going to put just a little bit of a towel roll underneath your ankle, and basically you’re going to perform the exercise by contracting the muscle on top of your thigh, like you’re trying to press your knee down as straight as you can. Hold that contraction for about five seconds and relax.

So this exercise is kind of two part. We’re trying to increase and activate the quadricep muscle on top of your thigh, and we’re also trying to increase your ability to straighten your leg. Sometimes you can lose a little bit of range of motion at the end there. We’re trying to maintain that range of motion. Perform that for about 10 repetitions, holding it for about five seconds each time you do the contraction. That’s called a quad set.

The next exercise, again, you could perform either in bed or on the couch. I’ll lay down for this exercise. We’ll keep one knee bent and one straight. Again, we’ll start by contracting the muscle on top of your thigh just like we did with the exercise before, and then we’ll lift the entire leg straight up off the bed. Hold for about a count of five seconds, and then slowly return it back down to the table.

So one point with this exercise, you don’t really want to raise it straight up in the air. We want to stay about the level of your other leg that’s bent or even a little bit lower, and it should be a nice slow controlled motion. So again, we’re activating that quadricep muscle on top of your thigh, but we’re also getting a little bit of hip flexor strength as well. Again, you could perform that exercise for about 10 repetitions.

The third and final one is called a long arc quad. You could perform this sitting on the edge of your bed, on your couch, or in a chair. Basically, we’re just going to kick your knee out straight, hold for about five seconds, and then slowly lower it back down to the starting position.

So all three of these exercises, again, are designed to be pretty basic. We’re trying to start activating the muscles, getting them used to being worked again. There’s many ways to progress and make them more challenging. We can either add repetitions, we can increase the amount of time that you hold the contraction for, you could add sets, or we could eventually add resistance in the form of ankle weights or resistance bands.

If you’re taking note, all of these exercises were performed either laying down or sitting up, so they’re classified as non-weight bearing exercises. If it were deemed appropriate, we could also increase and progress those by moving to weight bearing activities that would challenge your quadriceps a little bit more.

So again, if you have any questions, please reach out to us, either at the office or on Facebook. Thank you for your time.