Vastus medialis

Just wondering what the forum members have found to be most useful in developing the vastus medialis either in terms of hypertrophy or strength, or both.
The athlete in question has very good overall strength and excellent leg, hip and back development (200kg full squat at a 87kg bodyweight). However, his lower quads are almost nonexistant when compared to his upper thigh. No knee problems at all for now but he feels it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Has anyone successfully dealt with this issue with someone with who has significant existing leg strength?

I myself had a similar issue to the one you are speaking. I found switching to olympic stlye squats, along w/ incorporating movements such as bulgarian split squats and peterson step-ups, really helped.

Mike89 is right on target with Olympic style squats. Single leg squats are also very good for vastus.
Personally I find split squats to dangerous in the last two reps of the set.
Remember, the powerlifter squat is more about the butt.

Wait a minute, I might have got my vastus in a twist.

Is the vastus medialis the tear drop shaped muscle on the Inner side of quad, just above knee?

If so, then hack lifts (not hack squats) are number one.
Hold barbell behind your legs, basically a deadlift but stand in front of bar, not behind, and lift.

I think I mistook medialis for lateralis in the earlier post. For lateralis, OLYMPIC squats and single leg squats.

VMO is teardrop muscle. Never tried those hack deadlifts before. I think oly lifts hit the VMO well. Also, one leg elevated squats & lunges. Step-ups also, particularly petersen stepups.

I haven’t tried these but heard they do as well: 1 1/4 squats, split-squats with your front foot on a dynadisk, low pulley split squats with knee going forward.

Basically any movement where the hips go below parallel will increase vmo activity.

With the science and practice of developing the VMO’s of world class athletes, the first place to start for developing the VMO is the Peterson Step Up. Poliquin helped popularize this movement and has used it with amazing success with all his clients who need VMO development. I don’t have a link for the picture and description of the exercise, but I am sure that you can find it somewhere on his website.

for the lazy:

Snatch-Grip Deads work wonders on the VMO.

In any case, do sprinters really need high vastus medialis developement?
In looking at runners at the elite leval they all have great lateralis but not medialis developement.

One of the functions of the VMO, is knee flexion, which helps w/ sprinting. The other main function is stability of the knee joint, which will help in injury prevention.

Not so fast my friend. The VMO does not work “functionally” in knee flexion except in an antagonist role. It is however responsible for proper tracking of the patella and therefore the knee joint. And yes, elite sprinters do need good VMO development, at least in relation to the vastus lateralis group.

I’m not convinced by the Poliquin article alone. The evidence is anecdotal and there might be other explanations for the recovery than the exercise selection alone.

I recommend searching the Supertraining group at yahoo, i’m sure this has been discussed (over and over) there before. This is personally relevant to me, rehabbing and going to have to rehab again from a knee surgery, so I’m going to do a search of the site tommorrow, and I can report back what I find.

I too have had to rehad my vastus medialis, I have a couple of sports med. books, they refer to the function of the VM, they state that the VM is most active in the last portion of knee extention. Also that it’s main job is to pull the patella toward the inside of the leg to keep it on track. My physical therapist (who I saw after my injuries) had me perform top range leg extensions with a firm contraction at the end of each rep, also high resistance cycling. I could really feel the muscle working in those exercises.


if the main job of the VMO is to keep the patella on track, then it should follow that the greater the depth of the squat, the more heavily it would be recruited.

Gambit, what has yet to really be addressed here is that there may be no need to specifically develop the VMO with your athlete in question.

According to your post, his strength is good and seemingly well manifested throughout the different articulations of the anke/knee/hip.

Just because the athlete does not posses a significant amount of muscle mass about the VMO does not indicate that a hypertrophy program need be initiated. That is unless, of course, he is a bodybuilder, although on this forum the likelyhood of that particular instance is minescule.

Remember, form follows function.

The answer to what your athletes training goal is will dictate the training methods/means that must be utilized.


If he has no knee pain why worry? You can’t spend your training time and mental energy thinking of trying to fix or prevent everything that could possibly go wrong. Stay in the house if your afraid to cross the street.

The world famous cervical spine specialist Joe Torg once told me in regards to worrying about “what if’s” concerning injuries,

“One of two things is going to happen, 1. You’re going to become neurotic or 2. Your going to make the kid neurotic!” “Just let him play!”

It might seem that way, but the patella is forced into the groove when the joint is bent, but the more the leg straightens, the easier it is to jump off track.
Almost like if you had a pulley where your patella is, when the leg is bent, the rope would be deep in the pulley but as the leg straighted, the rope would start to ‘bridge’ over the pulley and it would be easier for it to jump out of the groove if it wasn’t pulling straight.


If any sprinter was concerned about there VMO then they need only do the following with little compromise on the rest of there training;

Hack deadlifts with bands or without bands. (becuase they are not limited by your individual leverage for starters)

1 set. 8 reps. Once per weak.

Hold the bar behind your legs and lift. There is No exercise (repeat) No exercise that can possibly come close to hack deadlifts for VMO developement. None. Don’t do them for more than 1 set becuase you don’t need more than one set on this, and you don’t need them often. I have had ectomrphic legs yet when I included these my VMO ended up getting bigger than what was desirable in comparison to my vastus lateralis, adductor and hamstring muscles, so I dropped them from my program pretty quick.

I don’t think 8 reps/week of a weight that is below 75% 1RM is going to make much difference. My VMO gets more work carrying the groceries up a couple flights of stairs to my apartment.