Have you heard of knee dominant exercises or why they’re important?

If you haven’t, then you’re in the right place. I am going to show you what knee dominant exercises are and why you need to include them in your workout routine.

Let’s begin.

What are knee dominant exercises?

They are exercises that target your quadriceps and are one of the 6 basic movement categories.

The others include:

Hip dominant

Vertical push

Vertical pull

Horizontal push

Horizontal pull

When creating your training routine, it is important to take movement patterns into account. The basic movement patterns, each target different groups of muscle, therefore if you select exercises from each you will be able to create a well-balanced training routine.

Only selecting exercises from certain groups means you will develop muscle imbalances which could lead to injuries. Especially as you progress and start lifting heavier. It could also lead to postural issues especially if you are not training opposing muscle groups.

For example, if you only train your chest and you don’t train your back you may end up developing rounded shoulders.

Why are knee dominant exercises important?

Knee dominant exercises

Whether you are trying to build quadzilla’s or not, knee dominant exercises are important for strong quadriceps. Your quads are important because they help you climb stairs, run, walk etc.

Weak quads will affect your ability to function properly which would put a real damper on life. Plus, knee dominant exercises help you build shapely legs.

And who doesn’t want a pair of scrumptious strong legs?

The Knee Dominant exercises


Barbell squats knee dominant exercises

Unless they cause you pain or you really don’t like them, squats should be part of your training routine. They are an excellent exercise to not only build your quads but also overall strength and muscle.

Since they are a compound movement, they work multiple muscle groups during the exercise. Squats work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, lower back and core. That’s a lot of muscle to hit during one exercise. Which also means more calories burned and less time required in the gym.

That’s a win-win situation.



Lunges can be brutal. But they’re also a great exercise to build strong quads. Even if you’re not trying to squash watermelons between your legs or the souls of your enemies, you should still be including these in your routine.

You can choose from static lunges, walking lunges and curtsy lunges. Static and curtsy lunges are easier to do when you don’t have a lot of space. Walking lunges will require some room since you will not be lunging in the same spot.

Other than building your quads, they also work your glutes, hamstrings and calves well.

Bulgarian split squats

Bulgarian split squat

Holy guacamole. Bulgarian split squats are in a league of their own. This exercise is absolutely brutal on your quads and glutes. It is a unilateral exercise which means you are only working one leg at a time.

Bulgarian split squats are one of the exercises that you can use to correct muscle imbalances in your lower body. For example, if your left quad is stronger and or bigger than the right, you can perform 4 sets of Bulgarian split squats on the right and one set on the left. This will help build the right quad so it can catch up while not completely neglecting the left quad.

Remember, always start with the weaker/smaller side first.

Step Ups

Step ups

To perform this exercise, all you need is a sturdy bench or a box and some weights. Start with bodyweight step ups and once you have practiced and developed the right technique, you can move on to dumbbell or barbell step ups.

This exercise is challenging but you should not be using momentum to help you complete the movement. If you want this exercise to be effective at building your quads, you perform the exercise with slow and controlled movements.

No cheating.

Leg Press

45 degree leg press

Leg presses are performed on the leg press machine which comes in two options, the horizontal legs press machine and the 45 degree leg press machine. The leg press targets your quadriceps but also works your glutes, hamstrings and calves.

Foot placement on the leg press also dictates which muscles will be targeted during the movement. For example, a high foot placement will target your glutes and hamstrings more whereas a low foot placement will target your quads more.

You can also choose between arrow stance and a wide stance. The narrow stance targets your outer thighs more and a wide stance targets your inner thighs. The standard stance will help with overall leg development.

Practice until you get your form right with the standard stance, from there you can try different foot placements and start adding weights.

Bodyweight knee dominant exercises

Squats, lunges, Bulgarian split squats and step ups can all be performed without dumbbells or barbells. They are perfect exercises to start practicing your technique before you start packing on the weight. I recommend that your start with bodyweight squats and lunges. From there you can move onto step ups and Bulgarian split squats because they require balance and are more difficult to perform.

What’s next?

Select one or two exercises you want to learn from the list and practice, practice, practice. Once you’ve learned how to perform the exercises with good form, move on to the next exercises. Squats are a good exercise to start with since it can be performed with no weights and helps to build overall strength and muscle.

Time to crush the souls of your enemies.

Pssst! Don’t forget to checkout the freebie library for some great guides and cheat sheets.

Happy lifting!

Anna Mathis, CPT,CNC
Anna Mathis, CPT,CNC

Anna is a certified personal trainer, certified nutrition coach, and science junkie who has a passion for teaching women about weight training, nutrition, and wellness.