The leg extension is a weight-training exercise. It usually targets the quadriceps muscles. These muscles are located in the front of the thigh and are present from the knee to the pelvis. Moreover, these are the same ones responsible for hip flexion and knee extension.
You can perform Leg extensions on the leg extension machine. Here you sit on a chair and lift a weight bar using the strength of your quadriceps muscles.
You tend to contract the quad to bring your knees upward against the weighted resistance while performing the leg extension. Although many other exercises work on the quads (like squats, lunges, or deadlifts), there’s no other exercise routine that can isolate and work on the leg muscles as leg extension does.
Additionally, it needs a lot of workouts to build the powerhouse muscles that build up the front of the thigh. It gets even better if we integrate a combination of compound and isolation movements into our exercise routine.
This exercise is also a reliable isolation exercise that can pull all the focus on the quads. This exercise compliments leg curls well if done with proper form.
In particular, the Leg curl isolates the hamstrings, and leg extension isolates the quads, forming a powerful exercise routine for the lower body. They can bulk up the thigh muscles, front, and even the back.
Whereas, in leg extension, you move the padded bar, which means that your legs are not immobilized while working. Thus, the movement chain is always open, and your muscles are constantly moving and working.
Which Muscles Are Used for Leg Extension Exercise?
The leg extension solely works on your quadriceps muscles particularly. Quadriceps is the largest known muscle group in the human body. They are responsible for extending the knees. Substantial quadriceps help in walking, squatting and maintaining good posture.
Quadriceps muscles include:
- Rectus Femoris
- Vastus lateralis
- Vastus medialis
- Vastus Intermedius
How to Do Leg Extensions?
Before starting your sets:
- Set up your machine.
- Position the pad at the top of the lower legs at the ankles and,
- Don’t go heavy on the weight loads.
So let’s begin:
- Your knees should be at 90 degrees.
- Then place your hands on the bars.
- Lift the weight until your legs are nearly straight and keep exhaling.
- Ensure not to lock your knees.
- Then keep your back against the backrest provided and do not form an arch with your back.
- Now exhale and lower the weight and slowly get back to your initial position.
- You can do 3 sets of 8-12 reps.
Common Mistakes We All Do
1. Going too fast
All the exercises aimed at solely benefiting a single muscle group should follow the rule of patience. Going fast on speed can only add to the momentum and not muscle engagement. It can even create situations of risk of injury.
2. Heavy and tough lifting
However, you can use this machine for weight lifting as well. The weight only assists in the process of resistance to pushing and lifting of the muscles. The force of stress involves the muscles in the quadriceps.
And if you ever try to go harsh on the weights, then a situation of risking the knee ligament can arise. Additionally, this exercise is not meant for low-rep and high-load strength conditioning.
3. High Reps
There is no need to exhaust yourself with extreme loads or more rep sets. You can do a maximum of 3 sets of 8-12 reps at a moderate load. There is no requirement for you to do any endurance sets with high repetitions on this machine furthermore.
4. Locking Knees
Ensure that you don’t lock your knees at full extension. You can injure your joint and have a strain on the knee joints.
Benefits of Performing Leg Extension Exercise
- Leg extensions are well known to strengthen the patellar ligament and quadriceps attached to the knees. The exercise focuses on strengthening the quads and the necessary attachment of the knee joints particularly.
- A machine-assisted exercise increases the probability of giving good results. Additionally, a machine can help a beginner in situations where he is trying to improve his posture and form.
- The leg extension is a good finishing option for a squat and deadlift routine. Due to being an isolation exercise for the quadriceps, this exercise is a fantastic option to perform after doing compound exercises.
- The leg extension machine solely focuses on a single muscle group.
- It can even benefit your knees if proper form is followed. The impact will be reduced on the knees if we perform this exercise in a sitting position.
Other Health Benefits of Leg Extension Exercise
- Leg extension can help strengthen quadriceps muscles.
- It can also help prevent any severe leg injury.
- It can help strengthen the ligaments and the areas around the knee joints.
- Leg extensions improve posture.
- It can help increase spine flexibility.
- Additionally, it can tone your thigh muscles.