It takes a lot to build big strong quads. They’re a larger muscle group that can tolerate high loading and large amounts of volume. This makes training them both fun and frustrating at times, especially for those who have trouble building their quads, to begin with.
Many lifters around the globe have been put into situations where they have limited equipment availability, yet, they still want to train and build a strong, aesthetic body. This isn’t impossible to do with limited equipment, but we have to be a little more strategic and creative.
In this video and article, I discuss five of my favorite quad exercises that you can do with a single kettlebell (or dumbbell, for that matter!).
5 Best Single Kettlebell Quad Exercises
Author’s Note: There are a TON of different exercises that you can use to build strong quads with when you only have one kettlebell or dumbbell. These five were chosen to provide a full range of options for targeting the multiple quad muscles.
1. Heels Elevated Kettlebell Goblet Squat
This exercise is fantastic for increasing the stretch of quads and pushing your limits when it comes to time under tension. It’s an easy movement to help drive effort up and can be used as a solid quad finisher or main lift.
Heels Elevated Goblet Squat Benefits
- Produces adequate stretch on the quads and facilitates depth that might not be achieved sans elevation.
- Fantastic for upping time under tension and driving effort up when the goal is hypertrophy.
How-To Do Heels Elevated Goblet Squats
- Take your normal stance width. You can also bring the feet in slightly if you wish.
- Assume a normal goblet position and lower yourself slowly allowing the knees to track.
- Maintain a strong torso position and stand back up driving the legs down
2. Single-Leg Kettlebell Goblet Squat
If you’re really trying to up your strength and hypertrophy efforts with a unilateral exercise, then single-leg goblet squats are a fantastic variation to try.
Single-Leg Kettlebell Goblet Squat Benefits
- Great for producing a relatively high unilateral focused load.
- Excellent variation for increasing hypertrophy and strength on the desired leg.
How-To Do Single-Leg Kettlebell Goblet Squats
- Hold your kettlebell in a traditional goblet squat position, then stagger the feet.
- Your foot position should be closer than what you use in a traditional split squat.
- Lower yourself down and allow the knee to track. Think about placing 80% of your weight on the front leg.
- After you’ve hit depth, stand back up and lockout at the top with a strong quad contraction.
3. Ipsilateral Bulgarian Split Squat
Bulgarian split squats are ridiculously brutal as is, but when you add an ipsilateral load, then you can up their intensity even more. The ipsilateral load provides a nice challenge for both the planted leg and torso, as it resists side-bending.
Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squat Benefits
- Awesome exercise for challenging balance, mobility, stability, and strength.
- Fantastic quad variation for increasing hypertrophy and strength.
How-To Do Ipsilateral Kettlebell Bulgarian Split Squats
- Find a stable base to place your back foot on, then establish a stance width that allows you to achieve depth while keeping the planted leg’s heel down.
- Grip the kettlebell in the hand that is on the same side as the foot and keep a light brace throughout the core.
- Slowly yourself down to full depth, then return to your starting position by thinking about driving through the floor.
- The back leg should be the primary mover and the back leg is for balance and support.
4. Kettlebell Leg Extensions
Don’t have a leg extension machine around? No worries. This variation may not be able to be as heavily loaded as the traditional leg extension, but it’s still fantastic for isolating the quads and putting a load on them.
Kettlebell Leg Extension Benefits
- Excellent for isolating the quads and upping their time under tension with lighter loads.
- An easy exercise to modify with tempos and higher rep sets for additional work.
How-To Do Kettlebell Leg Extensions
- Sit on the edge of a firm surface. For comfort purposes, place a towel or soft pad under the knee.
- Hook the kettlebell around the foot and dorsiflex (point the toes upwards).
- Extend the quad and work on getting the kettlebell as high as possible, then slowly lower back to your starting position.
5. Contralateral Kettlebell Step-Ups
Contralateral step-ups are a great variation because they demand balance, stability, and strength to produce proper movement mechanics and lower body control.
Contralateral Kettlebell Step-Ups Benefits
- Awesome for improving unilateral strength and it can be great for identifying single-leg discrepancies.
- Great variation for also working on stability and balance.
How-To Do Contralateral Kettlebell Step-Ups
- Find a stable surface to step up. The step-up surface’s height can vary and if you’re newer, then find a lower surface around 6 inches to 1 foot tall.
- Grab a kettlebell in the hand that is on the offside of the leg stepping up. So left-hand kettlebell hold, right leg step-up.
- Place the foot firmly on the surface, then step up by thinking about driving the leg down and extending and contracting the quad.
- After the lockout, lower yourself back down by stepping backward and finding the ground.
Other Great Kettlebell Quad Exercise Variations
Want more variations? The list below also has great options that you can include into your current training program.
- Walking Lunge
- Lateral Lunge
- Split Squat
- Front Foot Elevated Split Squat
- Forward or Backward Lunge
There are endless variations you can include to build strong quads with limited equipment. If you have a kettlebell or dumbbell, then you have more than enough to perform killer lower body workouts.
Looking for a structured program to build strength and the body you’ve always dreamed of? Sign up for Pheasyque Lab!