The exercise you’re not doing to supersize your quads: cyclist squats

This squat variation will add dimension to your legs and you can do it at home

A woman performing cyclist squat with dumbbell
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want your legs to look good in a pair of swim shorts as well as your upper body, then skipping leg day is a no-go. The conventional back squat is the king of lower body workouts, but if you’re looking to grow your quads, then you should try the cyclist goblet squat.

This squat variation has similarities to a regular goblet squat, where you hold a single dumbbell at your chest and squat down. The main difference though is that your heels are elevated and your feet are very close together. 

It’s these subtle tweaks that help hone in on your quads and make this exercise excellent for supersizing your legs though. Elevating your heels places far more emphasis on your quads than a regular squat, particularly on the vastus medialis – the teardrop-shaped muscle on the inside of the thigh that extends to your knee. But, also by holding a weight in front of you, your body is forced to remain more upright and requires more activation from the quads to extend the knee. The vastus medialis is also key for stabilising your knee joint so, as well as building your quads, the cyclist squat is also going to be a great exercise for improving your knee health too.

In hindsight, the cyclist squat doesn't sound too technical but, trust us, add a few sets of these to your lower body days and play around with the tempo, and your quads will be left on fire! Here's how you do them...

How to do cyclist squats

To perform a cyclist squat you're going to need a weight, such as a single dumbbell or kettlebell, and something to elevate your heels with. For the latter, if you're in the gym you could use weight plates or a squat wedge block; if you're at home though, a book will do. We suggest doing three sets of 8 to 15 reps. Also, don't forget, the more upright you remain throughout the exercise, the more you'll fire up your quads. 

Here's how you do a cyclist goblet squat:

Goblet Cyclist Squats - YouTube Goblet Cyclist Squats - YouTube
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  • Stand with h your heels elevated, your feet close together (almost touching) and hold a dumbbell in a goblet position
  • Keeping your torso as upright as possible, squat down until your calves touch your hamstrings and your knees
  • Hold here for a second then, keeping the knees forward, stand back up to your starting position

Tip: If you want to spice things up further, try squatting down for three seconds and holding for one, before returning to the top

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.