Focus Physique
Building Teardrop Quads – Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO)

The teardrop muscle of the quads, AKA the vastus medialis oblique or VMO for short is a coveted quad muscle of many! Unfortunately, this muscle can appear to be under developed in many lifters of all training ages.

This can make for imbalanced leg aesthetics and is a key to powerful looking legs!

Throughout this article, I will give you the keys to building great teardrop quads along with exercises to help you reach your aesthetic goal!


Vastus Medialis Oblique Anatomy

The VMO is the quad muscle on the medial side of the leg, or the side of the leg closest to the middle of the body. Its primary function is knee extension, which is raising the knee away from the body.

The VMO is the quadriceps muscle on the medial side of the leg often referred to as the teardrop quads.
The VMO is the quadriceps muscle on the medial side of the leg or the side of the leg closest to the middle of the body.


The muscle fiber distribution of the VMO is on average 55% Type II muscle fibers and 45% Type I muscle fibers.


Teardrop Quads and Your Aesthetic

The vastus medialis is perhaps the most desired quad muscle men and women want to beef up! The reasons are, this muscle quite simply looks great when developed plus you can actually see it in shorts creating the appearance of having cut quads!

When the VMO is underdeveloped, it creates the look that you don’t have big quads in regular clothing. It also creates a “bulbous” looking leg with a lot of the mass in the upper portion of the leg.

Now yes, genetics do play a role, but training that neglects this problem also does. A strong focus on hip dominant exercises such as deadlifts and hip thrusts, and even certain knee dominant exercises such as the back squat, don’t always put enough stimulus on the quads to really carve out those great teardrops.

Most of these exercises place the muscle mass higher up in the legs around the thigh and glute region.

It also should be clear that I’m not saying to throw out all hip dominant exercises and posterior chain exercises . . . they are extremely important!

From an aesthetic standpoint though, it’s very important to incorporate quad dominant exercises into your leg training!


Activating the Vastus Medialis

What’s interesting is that modern science is leaning towards the theory that you can’t activate more of the VMO over another quadriceps muscle such as the vastus lateralis or rectus femoris. This is a sharp contrast to the common belief of most lifters and even some trainers.

When looking at muscle stimulation in a squat even with various foot angles and stance widths, there doesn’t seem to be a shift in what muscles of the quads are doing the most work.

What we do know though is that elevating the heels puts more emphasis on the quads. We also know that muscle stimulation of the quads reaches its peak at 85 – 95 degrees during a squat!

Considering this information, there are a few things we can do for certain that will lead to bigger quads and ultimately bigger teardrop quads!


Exercises to Develop the Vastus Medialis

The best approach to developing the vastus medialis is to do quad dominant exercises. Considering their muscle fiber distribution is type II dominant along with all other muscles of the quads, lower to mid rep ranges may be more effective.

Below are some of the best exercises!


Leg Extensions

The leg extension machine is a great exercise to target the quads.
The leg extension

This is perhaps the greatest exercise for developing the VMO. What’s great about leg extensions is that they eliminate all hip extension and put all the work on the quads. I’ve found consistent training with leg extensions to make a great difference in my legs aesthetic and those that I have worked with.

 Proper Form

These are done with the leg extension machine in your gym. The main pointer for form is to not let your legs go past 90 degrees at the bottom. Although this does create a greater range of motion and won’t necessarily hurt you right away, it can cause knee pain and injury down the road!


Front Squats

Proper front squat form will put more emphasis on the quads
The front squat

Front squats are a classically great compound exercise that will put more emphasis on the quads.

Want to take it a step further?

Put something such as a plate weight underneath your heels to create a downward angle. 15 degrees is all you’ll need and this will put more emphasis on the quads!

Proper Form

With a front squat, you will have the barbell on the front side of your body. The movement will be essentially no different than a regular back squat.

You will want to do your best to keep the weight in your heels (even though this will be harder with a front squat), keep the knees over the second and third toes throughout the movement (especially on the way back up), keep the chest up, and make sure that you butt doesn’t come up before your body out of the hole during the squat.


Holding the Bar

You have two options. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Ok, not really, but depending on how flexible your wrists are will determine how you need to hold the barbell.


Option 1: With the Wrists

Front squat grip with weight on the wrists is the preferred grip.
Front squat grip with weight on the wrists.

If you can do this way without wrist pain, it is recommended. When you go to the rack, place your hands on the bar and roll them back so the palms are facing up and the bar is resting across you shoulders. You’ll want to make sure to keep your elbows up as high as possible all the way throughout the movement to eliminate wrist pain and injury.

Option 2: Arms Crossed

Front squat with a crossed arms grip are a good alternative for those with wrist pain.
Front squat with a crossed arms grip

This way is for those that are lacking the wrist flexibility to do the first way listed. Using this method, you will have your arms crossed and bent at the elbows grabbing the bar. Again, you will want to do your absolute best to keep the arms up throughout all parts of the movement.


Final Thoughts on Building Killer Teardrop Quads

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this article, is that modern day research is showing that you probably can’t target one muscle of the quads over another. This is why quad and knee dominant exercises are key!

Genetics do play a role, but if you consistently train for quad development while making sure you have even development in the posterior chain as well, you can create great, aesthetic, teardrop quads!

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About Brennen Elboeck

I'm Brennen, the founder of I want to give hundreds of thousands of people science based, practical physique and life transforming information! To never miss a post or what's new make sure to sign up for our newsletter above!

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