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VMO Exercises - Target Toning the Teardrop Muscle by the Knee

Former certified fitness professional who remains an active exercise ambassador.

We should be exercising to feel good. Sadly, too many of us are exercising to "rehab". We need to change this paradigm and start a program today while we are healthy to enjoy the exercise program rather than feel the need to exercise to avoid pain. For you see, muscles are beautiful and when we are healthy and expand our hearts and lungs with cardio and build our muscles, we can feel the difference.

If we envision a light that is off and then we activate the light switch and we can see, exercise is the same thing. However, when we activate that light switch when we are in need rather than in a healthy state we a dimmed view.

The VMO muscle is sadly often only talked about when we are in "need". Yet, this muscle is beautiful way beyond its function. What is the VMO? The vastus medialis muscle is the muscle just above and to the inside of the kneecap.

The VMO will never "feel" like the other muscles of your body. It is a small muscle if you work hard you might be able to see. It is often stated to be one of the hardest muscles to engage. That is not me the fitness professional talking - this statement comes from the rehabilitation world. And they are absolutely correct. If the bicep muscle is the easiest to engage, the VMO is the polar opposite, very difficult to isolate.

Yet there are exercises that we can do to activate this precious gem of a muscle. Join us as learn about this muscle, what muscle group it is apart of and how to exercise to actively engage and strengthen this muscle.

VMO Muscle

Vastus medialis muscle The position of the vastus medialis oblique is just above and to the inside of the knee cap.

Vastus Medialis Oblique and Lateralis Muscles

Open diagram showcasing the bones and the muscles of the leg with special emphasis on the Vastus Medialis Oblique and Lateralis Muscles

Open diagram showcasing the bones and the muscles of the leg with special emphasis on the Vastus Medialis Oblique and Lateralis Muscles

Tear Drop Muscle of the Legs

In anatomy terms the muscle next to the knee that is believed to be the muscle that is primary in stabilizing the knee joint, is call the vastus medialis oblique. As we have discussed the oblique is essentially a slanted muscle.

In body building terms, we will often hear this muscle referred to as the "tear drop" muscle because if it is fully developed, it will resemble a tear drop.

Often if you are experiencing knee problems, therapists will seek to strengthen this muscle. This muscle is difficult to engage but we have compiled three excellent videos along with several different types of exercises for you to choose from.

Rehabilitation of Knee Injuries

Share Your Thoughts and Experiences

Tanzanite of the Body Muscles - Why the VMO

To me the VMO or what bodybuilders will call the teardrop leg muscle is a gem of the human body. But is a relatively unknown gem. We all know the abs and the heart and lung muscles just as we know sapphires and rubies. The VMO is a section of the quadriceps that is often under appreciated until we need that muscle.

Sadly, when we visit the doctor, there is no nurse, no medical practitioner to explain how the muscles affect the knee joint.

Understanding and recognizing the problem is always the first solution to correcting a problem.

A prevailing problem in our society is the gulf or divide we have crafted between exercise and medicine. If we understood our human body and the 640 some muscles that allow us to move, we could manage this beautiful temple that we reside in.

We have come a long way in science and personal hygiene. The time is now to advance in our health with taking the time to understand our body and to take the time to engage the muscles that protect us.

That wonderful glow of happiness always starts with our physical well being. If we are physically healthy, our mind and our spirit will team together for a great feeling of wellness.

For you see like gems and jewels, chasing after the exterior glitter starts first from the internal cuts that craft the glow. Take the time to sculpt your body and you will see your muscles grow stronger and I promise you the internal glow will quickly follow.

Diagram of a Squat to Target the VMO or Teardrop Muscle

diagram of a squat with adduction to engage the leg muscles including the VMO or the teardrop muscle

diagram of a squat with adduction to engage the leg muscles including the VMO or the teardrop muscle

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Strength Training for the VMO - Increase Stability of the Knee Joint

Why Target the VMO

1. Prevent Knee Pain

2. Improve Functional Performance

3. Improve Your Metabolism

Two Favorite VMO Exercises

If you watch any videos about VMO strengthening, this is the one to watch. It is short and concise and provides my top two favorite exercises for targeting the teardrop muscle of the leg, what I call the tanzanite of the leg muscles.

1. Terminal knee extension using a resistance band

2. Swiss ball squat with medicine ball hold

The terminal knee extension using a resistance band is a great use of the resistance band.

The ball squat with adduction is a fantastic exercise for those with inherent knee problems. In this exercise we combine the medicine ball (4 lbs given as an example) plus the balance ball.

How to Fix Your Knees - Corrective Exercises

Three Exercises to Target the Teardrop VMO Muscles in the Legs

1. Sidestep lunge

2. Bulgarian squat or split squat

3. Single leg extension

The video of the three exercises is really excellent content but the sound quality is very challenging. Essentially three stellar exercises are provided to target tone the VMO. The one that I believe everyone forgets about is the side step lunge. This is an advance exercise and should only be attempted once you have conquered the basic squat and lunge and are ready to take your exercise program to the next level.

Seven Different Exercises that Target the VMO Teardrop Muscle in the Legs

Leg Extension


Smith Machine



Bodyweight or Free Weights

Wall Sits


Wall Sits with Small Ball



Bodyweight or Free Weights

Hack Squat


Lower Leg Teardrop Development - Including the VMO

Lunges With Follow Through

Yes, Rob Riches is rather extreme but very good. Take a close look at the instruction - not his extensive muscles and you will learn allot.

The lunges he provides special direction on keeping the motion fluid, follow through and keep the tension going.

The exercise that begins about 9:19 is fascinating for the VMO. It showcases the value of bodyweight contractions.

Skater Lunge

demonstration of the skater lunge

demonstration of the skater lunge

Target Toning the Leg Muscles - The VMO and More

Lunges and squats are great exercises that target tone the leg muscles and the VMO. Here we have shown several other exercises such as the terminal leg extension using a resistance band, and also the medicine ball adduction.

Squats and lunges remain one of the important exercises for not just bodybuilding but also for our health.

Strengthen Knees Video on Amazon

Fine Line - Therapy Exercises and Exercises for Strength

The term "therapy" bothers me. We put too much emphasis on preventing pain and not seeking to be healthy. This paradigm needs to be changed. Our bodies deserve to be healthy. Daily exercise, daily stretching, daily range of motion exercises need to be standard in our lives. Exercise and stretching should be a foundation no different from brushing our teeth daily.

Achieving strength around the knee is critical to our daily movements. We must recognize our knees are hurting not just because of the joint but also because of the lack of strength supporting that joint.

Hope you take these videos to heart and consider hiring a personal trainer, physical therapist to maintaining strength and stability around your knee.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2014 Kelly A Burnett


Kelly A Burnett (author) from United States on June 06, 2020:

Hi Rachmat, Thank you very much!

Rachmat Tubagus from Indonesia on May 19, 2020:

I love this article. it is very useful.

Noa Keshet from Israel on May 29, 2017:

Thanks for the helpful videos. I also suffer from knees' pains, so I make it a priority to choose exercises that target and strengthen the muscles that support the knee.

Kelly A Burnett (author) from United States on August 21, 2015:

Hi Glenn,

I am over 50 and fighting for my muscles each step of the way. I need to know what muscles to attend too so this hub was self-serving! Thank you so much for sharing - I just wish therapy exercises were part of our daily routine and pray for less injuries. I feel so much better with stronger leg muscles - it helps my metabolism too!

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on July 17, 2015:

This is a very thorough discussion of the various exercises needed to help with knee pain and to strengthen the muscles around the knee. I once pulled a tendon and couldn't walk for a month, and had to do these exercises. It's very important to keep doing them, especially as we get older. The videos you included in this hub are very useful too.

Kelly A Burnett (author) from United States on August 19, 2014:

Hi Tolovaj,

Flexibility is a great focus for your fitness goals. Without flexibility we loose mobility quickly but also we me make mobility hard without flexibility. I remember in my younger days never wanting to grow up and walk and move like the elderly. I can handle wrinkles (they are a mark of great wisdom after all - aren't they?) but to move slowly where when I walk it looks painful is never how I wanted to live life.

The muscles around the knees I have found help my knee problems. My grandmother (God bless her) had both knee problems and anemia and sadly I inherited both of those traits.

I just wish I had truly learned fitness when I was younger. It is so hard to start new routines and I feel strongly education is the key to changing our health.

While all of my clients are my favorite, I have a special fondness for children. If we can leave them with a lasting positive impression of how to live healthy, we can leave a legacy for a better world.

Tolovaj on August 15, 2014:

Thanks for all the tips. I already know how important is to have strong muscles around the knees, but was not aware of these exercises. I focused on flexibility in last years, but I guess strength is important as well.

Kelly A Burnett (author) from United States on June 07, 2014:


You made me laugh - I know I have been working for a decade now to find this elusive muscle. My personal treasure hunt! Thank you for stopping by. You are always a delight.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 02, 2014:

You've got some great quality exercise hubs. Oh, I know I should be doing this. I haven't seen this muscle in a decade, I believe. This is a wonderfully crafted hub with great tips and resources.

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