The 6 Best Quad Dominant Exercises

Legs 3 min Read

Written by

Keith Hansen

For the upper body we split things into vertical pushing, vertical pulling, horizontal pushing, and horizontal pulling.

The lower body is a bit simpler.

Most things are either hip dominant (glute/hamstring focused), or knee dominant (quad focused).

This classification is made by deciding which joint is going through the largest range of motion and contributing the most.

Some variations of the squat, like the low bar squat we teach at SST, is a good combo of both knee & hip work.

Also, note that many of these exercises can be made more or less knee dominant (in turn less or more hip dominant) by adjusting foot placement.

1. High Bar Squats

High bar squats are the ultimate knee dominant exercise. You can use huge weights with them and develop tree trunk quads.

Most of your workouts should begin with a big barbell movement, and there is no better choice than high bar squats.

2. Bulgarian SPlit Squats

Bulgarian split squats are quickly becoming a favorite around the Seriously Strong gym.

Elevate your back leg so the top of your foot rests on a bench press. The further your front leg is from the back leg the more hip dominant it will become. The closer it is to the back leg the more knee dominant it will be.

You want to get into a deep squat where your back knee gets close to the ground without lifting the heel of your lead leg.

3. Unilateral Leg Presses

This is a good finisher for a knee dominant workout. It’s the least complicated movement on the list and that makes it good at the end of a workout when you are tired.

Just like many of the unilateral (single leg) exercises on this list foot placement is hugely important.

Placing your foot towards the bottom of the footpad will increase the range of motion your knee goes through and ultimately the amount of work your quad does.

4. Walking Lunges

Walking lunges are a very similar movement to bulgarian split squats, but they require less balance.

The same rules for foot placement apply: bigger steps make the movement more hip dominant. Keep your steps short enough so that your knee drives far forward at the bottom of the step without lifting your heel.

5. Goblet Squats

Goblet squats are baby front squats. You’ll use the same body posture and mechanics as with a barbell front squat, but these don’t require awesome levels of mobility in the wrists and T-spine.

Goblet squats are very forgiving and can be done with just about anything. Grab a dumbbell, a kettlebell, a watermelon, or your little brother.

6. TRX Assisted Step-Ups

Step-ups are really hard to do well. Most of the time they turn into some sort of weird power move.

If you’re looking to build more strength & muscle from this exercise you need to slow it down.

Grab a pair of TRX straps or anything you can hold onto to assist you with the up and down portion of this exercise. Minimize the force your ground foot generates, and focus on doing the exercise slowly.

A higher box will be more difficult so adjust the height until you find what works best.

Start a Program

Knee dominant exercises are just one part of a well-rounded strength training program.

You’ll find them and everything else you need in the free Seriously Strong Programs.

Check them out below.

Download The Seriously Strong Beginner Program


Download The Seriously Strong Intermediate Program


Download The Seriously Strong Advanced Program

Keith Hansen

Keith was an All-State wrestler in high school and in 2007 hung up his singlet to attend Florida State University to pursue a B.S. in business management. He wasn't sure what industry he wanted to be involved in at the time, but soon realized after graduating in 2011 that fitness was the ever-constant activity in his life. Keith began studying to become a personal trainer and in 2013 earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Personal Trainer certification. After a short stint as a big box gym trainer he realized he wanted to bring something different to Tallahassee. Keith competes in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and Crossfit.