Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Tag: anatomy

Learn all about your quadriceps

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadriceps_femoris_muscle

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadriceps_femoris_muscle

The quadriceps, or "quads", make up majority of the muscle of the anterior portion of the upper leg. The name quadriceps comes from the fact that there are 4 portions or "heads" that make up the quads.

The four heads of the quadriceps are:

  1. Rectus femoris (at right, in blue)
  2. Vastus Lateralis (at right, in yellow)
  3. Vastus Medialis (at right, in red)
  4. Vastus Intermedius (at right, in green)

The Rectus Femoris attaches on the ilium (hip) and covers most of the other 3 heads. The Vastus Lateralis, Medius, and Intermedius all originate on the upper part of the femur. All 4 heads insert, or attach, on the tibial tuberosity just below the knee.

All 4 heads of the quadriceps extend the lower leg at the knee, however, since the rectus femoris is the only head that attaches to the hip, it is the only head that works on flexing the upper leg at the hip.


  • Knee Extension
  • Hip Flexion (rectus femoris only)

Hip Flexion

Knee Extension

Knee Cap


Have you ever thought about why you have a knee cap, also known as the patella? It is a bit odd if you think about it. Your knee cap is, essentially, a free-floating disc of bone. The truth of the matter, however, is that the knee cap is a very important and beneficial tool to improve the effectiveness of the quadriceps.

The quadriceps muscles make up the patella tendon, that passes over the kneecap and attaches to the tibia, just below the knee. Since the tendon passes over the patella (kneecap), when the quadricep muscle pulls on the tibia to extend the leg at the knee, the patella increases the mechanical advantage of the knee.

If you think back to your basic physics lessons in school, the further the generating force (patella tendon) is from the centre of rotation (the knee itself), the less force is required to move the object. This is the same applied principle when using a lever arm. If you were to lift a heavy object, such as a piece of furniture using a lever, the longer the lever, the easier (less overall force) it would be to move said object.

Learn all about your biceps

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biceps

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biceps


There are two heads to the biceps brachii muscle: the short head (pictured at right in green) and the long head (pictured at right in red). Both heads originate at the scapula (shoulder blade), and end (insert) on the forearm.


The common belief is that the biceps only flex (decrease angle) the elbow, but on top of flexing at the elbow, the biceps also play a relatively small role in:

  • Supination of the forearm (turning hand palm up)

  • Flexion (when palm is supinated) and abduction of the shoulder

By knowing and understanding exactly what the biceps do, you can then target them more effectively!

Elbow Flexion


Shoulder Flexion

Shoulder Abduction

My Favourite Biceps Exercises

A studied completed by the American Council of Exercise (ACE) has found that concentration curls are the most effective at recruiting the most muscle fibers of the biceps. Keep in mind that the biceps assist in supinating the hand and forearm so any exercise where the palms are supinated appear to be superior for biceps brachii recruitment.

I am also a big fan of chin-ups, and believe that they have helped me to build my biceps to where they are today. Sure, there is some back engagement involved when doing a chin-up but compound movements where multiple muscles and joints are involved can still be extremely effective, especially when working on assistance or accessory muscles such as the biceps.

Many of my favourite biceps exercises can be found in my free workouts "The Armoury" and "Dillon and Dutch."

Source: https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/expert-insight-article/47/4947/ace-study-reveals-best-biceps-exercises/

Source: https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/expert-insight-article/47/4947/ace-study-reveals-best-biceps-exercises/

Overrated Biceps Exercises

Hammer curls are a great way to increase the size of your arms, but primarily target the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles rather than the biceps brachii. Hammer curls can be great for developing the forearms, and I personally still use them, but for pure biceps engagement, they are not the best.

Also keep that in mind when doing curls with an E-Z curl bar. Although only partially supinated, E-Z curl bars are promoting more engagement through the brachialis and brachioradialis.

The "Peak"

In the picture on the right, you can see the difference in “short” and “long” biceps. Phil Heath on the left has longer biceps, which can be seen by how close his biceps are to his forearms. Kai Greene on the other hand has shorter biceps, which can be seen through the gap between his forearm and bicep. This also allows Kai to have a greater “peak” to his biceps than Phil.

Biceps training can elicit strength and size increases, however the appearance of your biceps is largely due to genetics. The length of your humerus, the exact points of attachment of the biceps, and the actual length of the muscle itself will determine whether your biceps are longer in appearance or shorter with more of a "peak."