Human Movement Science & Functional Anatomy of the:

Quadriceps: Vastus Muscles

by Brent Brookbush MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS


The Rectus Femoris is covered in a separate article due to its origin on the anterior inferior iliac spine.  This separate origin results in separate action, function, fascial integration and behavior in postural dysfunction.

Beautiful model of the upper thigh. Visible from right to left is the Tensor Fasciae Lata, Vastus Lateralis (inferior), Rectus Femoris, Sartorius, Pectineus and Adductor Longus -

What's in a name:

  •  Quadriceps - originating from the latin root "quad" and "ceps", in reference to "four heads", and often termed "quadriceps femoris" relating to "four headed muscle of the femur."
  • Vastus: The latin root for "huge" or "enormous".  The adjectives, lateralis, medialis and intermedius refer to their location relative to one another, as in lateral, medial, and in-between.

Cadaver Dissection of Quadriceps: Rectus femoris reflected for viewing vastus intermedius -

Vastus Lateralis:

  • Origin: Proximal part of the intertrochanteric line, anterior and inferior borders of greater trochanter, lateral lip of the gluteal tuberosity, proximal half of the lateral lip of linea aspera, and lateral intermuscular septum (11).
  • Insertion:  Proximal border of the patellar ligament to the tuberosity of the tibia, and to capsule of the knee and menisucs via patellar retinacular fibers (3, 11).

    • The vastus lateralis is a superficial muscle, only covered by the thickening of the fascia lata known as the iliotibial band or iliotibial tract.  The vastus lateralis wraps around the femur abutting the lateral intermuscular septum and biceps femoris posteriorly and the vastus intermedius medially - the most medial fibers being partially covered by the rectus femoris.  The vastus lateralis may have fascial slips investing in the iliotibial tract,