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How to Focus on Vastus Medialis Exercises

Working out often means focusing on different muscle groups.

Even if you want to focus on building your upper-body strength, working on other muscles will help you complete more workouts and add variety to your routine! 

Different muscle workouts will help keep you healthy while adding variety. Giving your muscles a rest is important to any routine. 

The vastus medialis muscles are not among the most well-known muscles but they should be exercised regularly.

These leg muscles connect the knee to the thigh and can help with leg pain. 

Learn how to work all parts of your leg muscle to get the body you want! No muscle should be neglected while planning a workout routine. 

What are the Vastus Medialis Muscles?

The vastus medialis muscles are leg muscles in your thighs that extend the knee. It’s a part of the quadriceps muscle group as an extensor muscle. 

Knee pain is closely connected to the vastus medialis muscles.

Since it’s the key component in knee extensions, you want it to be strong so you can continue to use your legs to your fullest capabilities. 

By working out in ways that focus on the vastus medialis muscles, you can improve your workout capabilities by preventing severe leg pain.

These exercises don’t have to be intense and you likely already incorporate them into your routine.    

How to Best Train the Vastus Medialis

Though working on the vastus medialis muscles is important for anyone, many people focus on these exercises to recover after an injury.

In this respect, having low-intensity workouts will help strengthen the vastus medialis oblique muscles. 

The vastus medialis muscles can be activated by focusing on the quadriceps muscles. Many of these exercises are simple and can be done at home.

You can also increase the intensity of how you work the muscles in the vastus medialis with different workouts or adding to the intensity of simple exercises. 

You can work on the VMO muscle group in different ways to accomplish your fitness goals. Whether you need to recover after an injury or are looking for new challenges, you can easily find ways to work this crucial muscle. 

The Best Vastus Medialis Exercises

Vastus medialis exercises can achieve many things depending on your fitness goals.

Their broad capabilities and intensities make them a great addition to many routines. Focus on relieving knee pain or build strong leg muscles with these exercises!

You may start completing vastus medialis exercises to recover after an injury and rehabilitate your knees.

As you recover, you may want to continue to do them to increase strength and build muscle mass. If this is the case, you can easily add more difficulty and intensity to the exercise. 

Here are just some of the exercises you can complete to strengthen your vastus medialis muscle. 

Leg Extensions

Leg extensions are a form of resistance training.

The exercise can seem simple enough to complete, you extend your leg to an upwards, straight position while sitting down. Your range of motion may be hindered by resistance on your leg. 

This leg exercise should not be viewed as a complete leg routine because it only focuses on the quadriceps muscles.

As a result, this is a great exercise to complete when recovering from an injury or when you want to focus on your vastus medialis. 

Many gyms have a leg extension machine that will provide resistance as you straighten your leg.

Some professionals discourage them because of the pressure points they put on your ankles and knees. If your knees are unnecessarily stressed, that can slow your recovery. 

You can recreate the tension with resistance bands. They will apply less pressure to your joints while still creating tension as you move your leg. This can be done at home or in a gym. 

As you become more comfortable with leg extensions, you add more resistance and tension.

This simple workout can build strong vastus medialis oblique muscles that will help your leg muscles develop.    

Single-Leg Raises

Single-leg raises are a popular exercise routine in many workouts, including yoga, calisthenics, and pilates.

Some of its popularity stems from how simple it is to complete, you only need an exercise mat to complete it successfully. 

To do single-leg raises, just lay down on your exercise mat on your back and arms at your side.

Place your feet flat on the floor while remaining comfortable. Raise your right leg until your knee is locked. Hold then release and repeat with the other leg. 

You can also work your core by raising and squeezing your glutes while your feet are planted to form a straight line from your shoulders to knees.

By incorporating this motion, you’re working your vastus medialis muscles and core, and lower back. 

This is a great exercise to do at home and you can create more challenges as you can straighten your legs more.

This exercise is easy to build from and keeps your core muscles in shape.

Even if you don’t need to recover from a knee injury, it’s a good workout to rotate in your routine.  

Lateral Heel Drop

The lateral heel drop is a unique exercise for the vastus medialis because it works both legs at the same time.

They will be worked in different ways, but this exercise ensures that one leg won’t be emphasized over another. 

To complete a lateral heel drop you will need a stepper.

A stepper is a simple exercise tool that can be added to any home gym to complete different workout routines. In this case, it provides a place to push and step from. 

Start by standing with your legs straight but not locked. One foot should be on the stepper and the other on the ground.

Push up from the leg that is on the steeper to straighten both legs, keep your hips even the whole time. Lower your legs and repeat with the other foot on the stepper. 

Besides working your vastus medialis muscles, it also strengthens your core and balance. Both are important for improving your fitness, either generally or after an injury. 

When starting lateral heel drops, you want to start with a small stepper. You don’t want to feel any pain when you begin.

As you become more familiar with the routine, you can raise the height of the stepper for more of a challenge. 

Another way to add a challenge is to use ankle weights. This will give your leg muscles more tension as they raise and lower on the stepper.

Weights can be a great addition to build strength and bulk to your leg muscles.   

Step Downs

Step downs are a simple exercise that also helps build your core and hamstrings.

Work on your leg muscles all at once with this one great exercise! 

Just like with the lateral heel drop, you will need a stepper.

This exercise also works both legs at once so you don’t need to worry about working both legs equally as long as you complete the reps an even number of times. 

To complete step downs, stand on the stepper with one foot. With the other foot off the ground, lower the foot slowly and lightly tap the ground.

Return to the original position. Repeat on the other leg. 

This is a therapeutic exercise that can be done to help rehabilitate your leg after an injury. It also helps with balance and strengthening your core. 

Helping with these muscles helps develop and strengthen your knees. Even if you don’t currently have knee pain or problems, you can prevent them by completing this exercise. 

Add more tension to this workout by adding weights. You can either use ankle weights or hold dumbbells.

This additional weight will challenge you to remain balanced while moving up and down on one leg. Keep your leg muscles strong with this exercise! 

Floor Extensions

This exercise is designed to isolate your vastus medialis muscle to keep your knee strong.

All you need to complete this exercise is an exercise mat and a wall. You will also need to sit straight for this exercise to work. 

To begin this vastus medialis exercise, sit on the floor in a tall posture.

Bend one knee toward you with the foot flat on the floor, the other leg should be extended in front of you.

Hold the knee bent to you close to your torso while flexing the extended quad. 

Lift your extended leg in the air as high as you can without breaking your posture for one count. Lower your leg slowly. Switch legs. 

For this exercise to be completed successfully, your posture must be good with a straight back.

If you cannot sit straight, sitting against a wall will provide the support that you need. 

If you cannot lift your leg at all when you begin, don’t stress!

This is normal and even when you attempt to lift your leg you should feel some flexing and tension. As you strengthen your vastus medialis oblique muscles, you can straighten your legs. 

To add more tension, you can add ankle weights. This extra weight will help you strengthen your leg muscles and keep your knee sturdy. Even if you don’t have any knee problems, this is a great exercise to complete in your home.      

Terminal Knee Extensions

There are many kinds of terminal knee extension exercises to complete.

It’s a common exercise to complete in rehabilitation after a leg or knee injury. It focuses on improving your range of motion and strengthens your knee after an injury. 

There are two kinds of knee extensions to complete; passive and active.

The kind that you workout with will depend on your goals and if the medical professional you’re working with recommends a specific motion or exercise.

You can complete many of them at home to strengthen and develop your leg muscles as well. 

The passive knee extensions are when your knee is propped up while being straightened.

You can complete many different exercises and motions while doing so. You can create tension or focus on developing your vastus medialis muscle while straightening your leg. 

Active knee extensions are done to improve your knee capabilities, especially concerning a range of motion.

Once you have established that your knee is strong enough, you can create more challenges for your leg. These exercises can be completed with steps or stairs to challenge how your knee moves. 

Many of these vastus medialis exercises are completed with the help of a trainer or physical therapist.

They can help you find new ways to challenge yourself. They may even help you find ways to complete workouts at home to continue your treatment.        

What About Squats?

Squats are a popular leg workout and many people think that squats are a simple way to work on your vastus medialis muscles while also working on the rest of your leg muscles.

Not all workouts are designed the same, however, and squats are not the best way to target your VMO muscles. 

Studies show that squats can be effective at reaching the vastus medialis muscle when resistance bands are used.

Bands create more tension that can help push focus to different leg muscles. The problem with using bands is that adding more tension with knee pain is not ideal. 

Without using a band, squats have to be deeper than normal for them to affect the vastus medialis muscle.

This can mean pushing yourself with every squat more than usual and can create more pressure on your knee injury. 

If you don’t have an injury or any pain in your knees, you can add more tension to your squats with these methods.

For those with any restrictions though, other routines are better suited to help strengthen your leg and knee. 

What Exercise is Best For Me?

This depends on several factors.

Every workout is different and accomplishes different goals, even when they isolate the same muscles. 

If you want to focus on rehabilitating your knee after an injury or with knee pain, your exercise routine will look different than if you were to work on your leg muscles to strengthen them.

Your goals and abilities will determine how your workout routine will look. 

If you are going through rehabilitation or experiencing knee pain, an expert can help you find the best routine for you. They can also help you plan for future developments and ensure that you reach your goals. 

Your goals can also change. As you strengthen your VMO muscle, you may want to challenge yourself and keep your knee sturdy.

This can make you want to try new and challenging exercises to add variety to your routine.     


The vastus medialis muscles are an important muscle group that should not be neglected.

This muscle is a component of the quadriceps muscles and keeps your knees strong. 

Oftentimes, people work on these muscles after an injury or to stop knee pain.

You can complete vastus medialis exercises to develop your leg and knee muscles and prevent problems from developing. They can be a key part of keeping your leg muscles strong and developed. 

One of the best parts about completing these exercises is that many of them can be done from home.

You can challenge yourself on your time with some basic exercise equipment and keep your leg muscles strong. Even without equipment, you can continue to develop your muscles.  

As your muscles develop, you can add more tension and workouts to your routine.

Many popular exercises can be modified to isolate your vastus medialis muscles to present new challenges.

Add variety and keep all of your muscles strong with VMO muscle-focused exercises!  

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Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost

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