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Inside Quad/Thigh Muscle...

simon johnsonsimon johnson Posts: 1,064
edited September 2010 in Training, fitness and health
...anybody got a decent exercise to strengthen this area. I have an imbalance, with the outer muscle(s), realtively, way more developed.

Thanks.
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Try lunges but make sure your feet are straight forward and your knee tracks straight rather than drifting in. Just using body weight is fine...

    I had this issue when I broke my leg and was undergoing physio, sorted it nicely!
  • Because of the limited range of motion that your leg travels while cycling, it only works the lateral part of your quads, but not the medial (inner) part. That is because the medial part only comes into play with roughly the last 10-15 dgrees of extension. Doing isometric quad sets and/or using a leg extension machine - limiting the motion to only this area of extension - will help balance out the quadriceps.
  • GarzGarz Posts: 1,155
    The outer muscle of the quad looks more under-developed for me.. strange. :(
  • for future references.

    adductor and abductor are the correct terms for this muscle ;)

    i suggest lunges with weights but not too heavy.
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  • GavHGavH Posts: 933
    Because of the limited range of motion that your leg travels while cycling, it only works the lateral part of your quads, but not the medial (inner) part. That is because the medial part only comes into play with roughly the last 10-15 dgrees of extension. Doing isometric quad sets and/or using a leg extension machine - limiting the motion to only this area of extension - will help balance out the quadriceps.

    ^ What he said!

    I had a knee issue last year which the physio identified after almost 90 mins of doing this and that was as a result of my outer thighs being stronger than the inner, thus causing my kneecap to eventually track incorrectly towards the end of the ride. This was due of course to one side of my thigh still being stronger (considerably so) towards the end of the ride and thus the kneecap tending to track towards the outer rather than nicely up and down. She gave me a number of exercises to try and "activate" (her word) my inner thigh which seemed to work.

    I would suggest an appointment with a physio if you
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    simon,

    How do you know they're "imbalanced"? Size or definition doesn't tell you anything; similarly, there's no way of directly measuring relative strength or, even if you could measure it, any knowledge what's an appropriate balance. At the end of the day, function is king. If you have some imbalance, you'll likely know about it because you'll have patellar tracking issues and likely knee pain (as per NapD's experience). The simple solution to most leg/hip issues is to learn to squat and to deadlift with good form - you can't do either of these exercises if you have significant weaknesses in either strength or flexibility in any areas of the leg or hip.
  • liversedgeliversedge Posts: 1,002
    adductor and abductor are the correct terms for this muscle ;)
    Sartorius.

    I recommend stretching.
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  • brettjmccbrettjmcc Posts: 1,361
    Try step ups onto a bench, works a lot of the same muscles. If you want you can put a bar on your shoulders; it also helps your core, as you have to stablise a lot.

    I find great anaerobic workout as well.
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  • for future references.

    adductor and abductor are the correct terms for this muscle ;)

    i suggest lunges with weights but not too heavy.

    They are actually called the vastus medialis (inner) and the vastus lateralis (outer). I'm no expert, but I would question the practice of lunges, as this wouldn't seem to address the area of motion that isolates the vastus medialis. Quad sets and limited range leg extensions are the usual and the safest exercises to do for this imbalance. I encountered this same problem about 30 years ago when I started into ultra-marathon cycling.

    Gav H description of what happens with such an imbalance was an accurate description. In fact, for anyone who spends a lot of time on the bike, these are good exercises to do. Also, tight hamstings can cause additional problems in this area of the knee. I've found that keeping them loose with regular stretching has helped me a lot.
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    Mark,

    You're right about the names and you're right about lunges. I presume that the lunge references actually meant split-squats (i.e. with the feet static, rather than dynamic as in a lunge), which are a great exercise to do, particularly for cyclists because of the glute workout they give.

    However, leg extensions aren't too hot - while they isolate the VMO, they produce a lot of stress in the knee and, additionally, produce strength gains that don't translate as well to the real world, because the muscle recruitment patterns are all wrong. (It's rare to get knee extension without any movement in the hips in the real world - e.g. on a bike! - and the corresponding activation of the glutes and hams you get in hip extension has an effect on the knee, as you point out).

    Regards,
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    liversedge wrote:
    adductor and abductor are the correct terms for this muscle ;)
    Sartorius.

    I recommend stretching.

    Absolutely, stretching the quads (and for that matter the hams) is very important and can help a lot.
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  • huuregeil wrote:
    Mark,

    However, leg extensions aren't too hot - while they isolate the VMO, they produce a lot of stress in the knee and, additionally, produce strength gains that don't translate as well to the real world, because the muscle recruitment patterns are all wrong.

    Thanks for the advice. How are leg extensions stressful on the knee? I was under the impression that this wasn't the case when kept to the last 10-15 degrees. I always thought that it became an issue when you went beyond that range.

    And from what I understand, these are only to provide a method of giving the two opposing muscles more balance and prevent injury (such as chondromalacia patella) rather than produce a strength gain that would directly help performance. Thanks for any insight you can provide here.
    (It's rare to get knee extension without any movement in the hips in the real world

    Good point.

  • Thanks for the advice. How are leg extensions stressful on the knee? I was under the impression that this wasn't the case when kept to the last 10-15 degrees. I always thought that it became an issue when you went beyond that range.

    Imagine you're sitting/lying on the leg extension machine with your knee fully extended. You have the machine's lever pressing down on your ankle, perpendicular to your leg. You shin is free in space, your thigh is supported by the bench by an upwards force. It's this switching in force direction, that takes place across the knee joint, that's stressful and is taken up by the ligaments/tendons. Contrast this with a squat, where the loading is largely along the leg, and thus transmitted directly through the cartilage.

    That type of loading - perpendicular to the ankle - is very unusual. You see it a little bit in kicking sports, but then it's always accompanied by hip flexion. The only place I think you get it "naturally" is in something like judo.

    If the weight's light, fine, but it's not an exercise you should go anywhere near heavy with. (Bodybuilders like them, but for different reasons as it gives them a means of "fine-tuning" relative muscle definition... whatever!)
    And from what I understand, these are only to provide a method of giving the two opposing muscles more balance and prevent injury (such as chondromalacia patella) rather than produce a strength gain that would directly help performance. Thanks for any insight you can provide here.

    Balance, strength gain, same deal! I think leg extensions can be helpful post-op or in the early stages of rehab. The minute you can do a bodyweight squat safely, there's no reason to go back to doing leg extensions - they certainly don't add anything. And half the battle is the neurological activation of the muscle - there's not point having muscle mass if it's not firing correctly/in sequence, and leg extensions are unhelpful in this respect.

    The big one that's often overlooked is the role of the glutes in knee tracking issues - most cyclists could do with training these far more, because we spend our days bend over on the saddle and getting tight hips. Squats, and particularly split-squats, are an excellent way of addressing this, as well as keeping the quads in check, all in one simple exercise.
  • An excellent review:

    http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1306675

    Particularly interesting was the *decreased* VMO activation in leg extension exercises compared to squats.
  • my 2c......agree with religious stretching of quads and hamstrings (ballet type stretch). Re the extensions etc, agree that theyre not great for knees or hips. Afaik, the vastus medialis is activated for the last 15 degrees of extension so I have been doing one legged bodyweight squats limited to 15 degrees of knee bend. This serves to isolate the medial quads and also strengthens the supporting knee muscles and aids proprioception
  • Huuregeil, thanks for that information! And thanks for that link too. I had known nothing of these facts on the leg extension. This is really good stuff to know. It's truly enlightening.
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