Vastus Lateralis

The Vastus Lateralis Muscle & Why It Matters So Much

The vastus lateralis Muscle is crucial to growing huge quads! When this particular muscle is large it actually makes your quads look wider and rounder, appearing to be more muscular.

The vastus lateralis muscle accentuates the contrast between the lower part of your upper leg and the middle or upper part. The vastus lateralis starts at the femur and extends down the lateral side of the thigh and inserts right into the patella.

This muscle is very important especially for quad growth because its the most prominent muscle in your quad.

So lets dive in to what is the outer quad sweep, which also is very important to building big quads!

**Note — If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to read my Vastus Medialis article to really take your quad gains to the next level.

Vastus Lateralis Exercises For A Killer Outer Quad Sweep

There are a few different exercises that you can do to target your outer quad sweep.

Make sure to focus on the vastus lateralis and using these exercises to really target it. It will help grow your quads massive and that’s definitely what we want!

What Is The Outer Quad Sweep?

Quad Sweep

The outer quad sweep is when the quads flare out from the knees to the hips in a bow shape!  This makes the muscle look protruded or bigger, which is definitely a goal when increasing quads.

All quads share the sweeping curve, but making sure to focus on exercises that target the vastus lateralis are the best way to see growth results. So let’s dive into 4 exercises that strength and grow your vastus lateralis!

Vastus Lateralis Exercises

Close-Stance Front Squat

A close-stance front squat is great to strengthen and grow the vastus lateralis.

You will start this exercise by setting the bar on a rack that best matches your height. Once you’ve reached the correct height and the bar is loaded, step under the bar, and place the back of your shoulders across it.

Hold on to the bars using both arms at each side and lift if off the rack by pushing with your legs and strengthening your torso.

Slowly step away from the rack and position your legs using a shoulder-width narrow stance with toes slightly pointed out.

Feet should be around 3-6 inches apart. This is your starting position.

Slowly begin to slowly lower the bar by bending your knees as you maintain a straight posture.

Keep going down until the angle between your  upper leg and calves is less than 90-degrees. 

Begin to raise the bar as you exhale by pushing the floor with the heel of your foot as you straighten your legs.

Repeat this exercise.

Single Leg Raises

This exercise is great for activating the vastus lateralis prior to a heavy leg day.

Start by lying on your back with your left knee bent and your left foot flat on the mat. Fully extend your right leg out in front of you.

Squeeze your abs and lift your right leg about 2 inches off the mat and keep it elevated for the duration of this exercise.

Make sure you’re not arching your back.

With your right quadricep contracted, raise your right leg up until your right thigh is even with your left thigh. Hold this position for 1 count.

Slowly lower your right leg down to your starting position, keeping it about 2 inches away from the mat. Repeat this exercise a few more times.

Machine hack squats

For this exercise you will use a machine to help assist you! You will be facing away from the machine, make sure your weight is loaded up on either side.

Start with your feet parallel, point forward slowly squat down thinking of contracting your vastus lateralis. Exhale your breath on the way up and inhale on the way down. Repeat this a few more times.

Dumbbell Lunges

This is an old school leg builder and it is still around for a reason!

For these you will start by holding the dumbbells in each hand and start with one leg in front of the other.

This leg will be the leg to lunge forward. You will just step in front of you and lunge down.

From there come up and slowly push off that leg to bring yourself back to standing. Repeat on the same side and then switch sides.

Vastus Lateralis Isolation Exercises

Close-stance leg press

The leg press is a great machine to focus on your vastus lateralis! And the great thing to do is to make sure that you’re keeping your toes pointed straight forward.

This will activate your vastus lateralis because you are keeping your toes pointed forward. So continue using the same leg press but just change the stance of your feet.

Toes-in leg Extensions

You will start toes-in leg extensions is a variation the regular leg extension that emphasizes the outer thigh.

You can use the leg extension machine and adjust it so the leg pad sits on your ankles. Make sure your knees are just off the end of the seat.

Make sure to point your toes inward towards on another. You can hold onto the handles for stability and bending at the knees and extend your legs out as far as you can.

Hold for a count of 1 while squeezing your quads and then slowly lower back down.

Continue repeating this exercise.

The Vastus Lateralis Is The “Key” To Your Quads

So if you’re looking to grow your quads or at least make them appear to be larger, you must work on your vastus lateralis. This particular muscle makes your quads look wider and rounder, appearing to be more muscular.

The vastus lateralis muscle accentuates the contrast between the lower part of your upper leg and the middle or upper part. 

The vastus lateralis is the key to growing your quads and making them appear wider than they are.

So if you want to grow your quads then make sure you isolate your exercises to focus on the vastus lateralis.


Tony G
Tony G

Anthony is a fan of all things gym related. Growing up very overweight and out of shape, Anthony whipped himself into shape and stunned his entire community becoming a "fitness guru". Tony then set his sights on strength sports (Weightlifting/Powerlifting/Strongman) and learned all about body mechanics, mobility work and injury prevention. Tony found his true love in the strength sports, particularly Olympic Weightlifting. He earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Fitchburg State University in Exercise and Sports Science. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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