T Nation

Building Vastus Lateralis?

I’m looking for ideas on improving the “3-D” look of my thighs, particularly the vastus lateralis. Somehow through years of squatting and powerlifing, my thighs look pretty big from the side, but fairly narrow from the front. My “teardrop” vastus medialis is pretty over-developed vs. the lateralis. Tried front squats but am coming back from a recent C5/6 herniation and having the typical trouble holding the bar on my shoulders without slipping. Feel free to chime in with any suggestions. Thanks

Close-stance squats are what you are looking for.

Close-stance regular squats, or hack squats.

The wider your stance the more your ‘teardrop’ vastus medialis’ is going to get worked.

The closer your stance the more your Vastus lateralis gets worked.

Hope this helps.

CT did a good article on this…


Good luck.

i tend to avoid machines and concentrate on free weights but there is one movement i like doing on a machine that might take the strain off your injury.

reverse hack squats

45 degree hack squat machines in general are a disaster for the knees but if you turn and face the other way you can get some serious quad work done without your knee caps exploding off your joints. check out this link i just quickly googled…


foot positioning as you know will emphasise one portion of the quad complex over the other with the narrow stance favouring the vastus lateralis

Can you squat at all?

From what I’ve picked up on T-Nation, you hit the vastus lateralis more if you keep your stance narrow and toes pointed straight ahead. You can do this with squatting or with leg press; given the herniation you mentioned, you’ll want to be real careful no matter what you do.

A recent tip (from either CT or CW) was to load a squat bar HEAVY and do partial squats with narrow stance.

Thanks for the advice guys. I can squat, but only with very light weights. I’m avoiding heavy pulling and loads on my back/c-spine. I’ve been considering the hack squat machine, lunges, split squats and leg presses. I remember reading something years ago about lying back on the leg ext machine, with toes pointed and legs externally rotated, but that sounds like bad news on the knees. Legs are about the only thing I can hit very hard now with the injury.

You don’t have to just squat.

Try close stance leg press with your feet quite low on the plate. You’ll be able to feel it when you get a good angle.