A weight-training exercise, leg extensions target quadricep muscles that run along the front of your thigh from your knee to your pelvis and are responsible for hip flexion and knee extension. They are usually performed using a leg-extension machine, where you sit on a chair and lift a weight bar using your quadriceps muscle. When you perform leg extensions, you contract the quad to bring your knees up against the weighted resistance. While many other exercises such as squats, lunges or deadlifts also work on the quads, they do not isolate the muscle like a leg extension does.
Any exercise that requires you to contract your quadriceps against resistance can deliver the same effect as a leg extension machine. If you are doing it at home, you can use a chair and resistance bands or ankle weights. You can also mimic the exercise by walking backward on a treadmill or doing a reverse step up onto a slightly raised platform.
Five key benefits of leg extensions
- Leg extensions are a key exercise in strengthening the patellar ligament and quadriceps attachment for the knee. This exercise focuses on strengthening the quad alone and, therefore, strengthens key attachments for the knee joint at the same time.
- A machine-assisted training, it is a very good option for exercise beginners and you need not worry about form and posture.
- It is also a good finisher exercise, as it is an isolation exercise for quadriceps that can be performed after compound exercises like squats or dead lifts.
- You can focus on target muscles more selectively. While doing squats, you hit a lot of muscles at once and expend a lot of energy. With leg extensions, you focus just on quads.
- There is a common belief that leg extensions can be harmful for your knees. But in my opinion, it is a good exercise for people with knee problems as they are performed while seated, reducing the impact on the knee. However, it is advisable to reduce the weight load and focus on the squeeze instead. Also, if you are recovering from any leg injury, it is best to consult a doctor before embarking on this form of exercise.
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