Rectus Femoris – August Muscle of the Month

August Muscle of the Month:

Rectus Femoris

And so starts a four-part journey into one of Crossfit’s favorite areas, the quadriceps. Prep yourself folks, this Tolkien-esque journey we are about to embark on will be full of adventure, excitement, and hopefully a little knowledge.

The quadriceps, so called because they contain four muscles, are located on the front of our thighs. The rectus femoris is situated in the middle of the thigh and connects at our hip and at the knee cap. In fact, it is the only muscle out of the quads that connects at both the hip and knee, and as such, it allows you to raise your knee and is the only quad muscle that can engage our hip. It can be considered one of the many hip flexor muscles for this reason.

The rectus femoris is incredibly important as it allows us to lift our legs up and walk, and therefore is used extensively in athletes that run, jump, and kick. However, the rectus femoris tends to be the weakest of the quadriceps and is susceptible to injury through overuse, and on the other end of the spectrum, lack of use. Excessive sitting causes shortening and weakening of the rectus femoris so if you find that you sit for many hours on end, it is probably a good idea to get up and stretch or walk (but maybe not all the way to Mordor…). 

To strengthen this muscle we should perform any of the squat variations, preferably ones that target our anterior chain (front of the body) more. These include front squats, wall balls, and thrusters, or just squat with a wider stance and point the toes out to target the rectus femoris. Box jumps and step ups are also a great exercise to target this muscle.