The leg extension machine: a great piece of equipment for anyone, from beginning lifters to pro bodybuilders. A great exercise to isolate the quads, helping blood flow to the muscle by contracting the heads of the quads. Some use it to warm up, some use it at the end of their workout to completely exhaust their legs.
Personally, I’ll do the latter, using a higher rep range after heavy squats and heavy leg presses to isolate the quads, bringing as much blood flow I can to my quads for the purpose of massing building and getting those striations in my lateral and medial heads. I do love the leg extension!
But realize… it’s called the leg EXTENSION, not the leg swing. In the video above, I know you’ve seen those people in the gym that just swing the weight up and down like it’s a toy or something. If you are one of those people, PLEASE STOP! It’s not doing much for you or your legs, I promise! It actually might cause more torque on your knees, leading to injury!
The next time you’re on the leg extension, focus on really squeezing at the top of the extension! This is the concentric moment of the exercise where your quads are completely flexed. Think of the movement in tempo form: hold it at the top for 2 seconds, then control it on the way down for 1. Up for 2, down for 1. And repeat until you finish in whatever rep range your goal is set out to be. Again, it’s a great exercise if you want that lean, round, full look in your legs.
If you don’t like going heavy on the leg extension or want other ways to integrate it into your workout, try supersetting it. Sometimes I super set a set of super heavy squat or leg press (roughly 5-6 reps) then go straight to the leg extension with no reps, with lighter weight, and try to do a solid 15-20 reps with that 2/1 tempo, really putting emphasis on my quads. Another idea is to super set it with the antagonizing muscle, the hamstring. Do a set of leg extensions, then go directly to a lying or seated hamstring curl.
The leg extension is a staple to my leg workout and should be a go-to in yours as well! Just make sure you’re doing it correctly for the best results!
Danny Quach is a senior at the University of Georgia
and he’s studying Health Promotion and Behavior. He’s a powerlifter at heart and has done it for over six years. He just competed in his first bodybuilding show in Summer of 2011. For powerlifting, he holds some Georgia records. In his first bodybuilding competition, he placed 2nd
in Novice in INBF Southern States. On his spare time he’s a part of the University of Georgia’s cheerleading co-ed squads; his favorite past-time? Throwing girls around and catching them.