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Quadriceps femoris muscle
Illu lower extremity muscles.jpg
Muscles of lower extremity. (Rectus femoris removed to reveal the vastus intermedius.)
Latin musculus quadriceps femoris
Gray's subject #128 470
Origin combined rectus femoris and vastus muscles
Insertion    tibial tuberosity
Artery femoral artery
Nerve Femoral nerve
Actions Knee extension; Hip flexion (R.Fem. only)
Quadriceps femoris muscle
"Quads" redirects here. For other uses see Quad

The quadriceps femoris (Latin for "four-headed [muscle] of the femur"), also called simply the quadriceps, quadriceps extensor, quads, is a large muscle group that includes the four prevailing muscles on the front of the thigh. It is the great extensor muscle of the knee, forming a large fleshy mass which covers the front and sides of the femur. It is the strongest and leanest muscle in the human body.

The proper Latin plural form of the adjective quadriceps would be quadricipes. In normal English usage, quadriceps is used in both singular and plural. The singular form quadricep, although technically incorrect, is commonly used.



It is subdivided into four separate portions or 'heads', which have received distinctive names:

  • Rectus femoris occupies the middle of the thigh, covering most of the other three quadriceps muscles. It originates on the ilium. It is named from its straight course.
  • The other three lie deep to rectus femoris and originate from the body of the femur, which they cover from the trochanters to the condyles:
    • Vastus lateralis is on the lateral side of the femur (i.e. on the outer side of the thigh).
    • Vastus medialis is on the medial side of the femur (i.e. on the inner part thigh).
    • Vastus intermedius lies between vastus lateralis and vastus medialis on the front of the femur (i.e. on the top or front of the thigh).

All four parts of the quadriceps muscle attach to the patella (knee cap) via the quadriceps tendon.


All four quadriceps are powerful extensors of the knee joint. They are crucial in walking, running, jumping and squatting. Because rectus femoris attaches to the ilium, it is also a flexor of the hip. This action is also crucial to walking or running as it swings the leg forward into the ensuing step.


In strength training, the quadriceps is trained in isolation with the leg extension exercise, as well as a part of several other lower body exercises. In many sports, it is important to have strong quadriceps muscles; if not, they are commonly torn.

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