There are a range of leg machines that can be used to shape your legs. Whether you want to strengthen your leg muscles or tone your legs, leg machines in the gym are some of the best ways to do so. One of the most popular, however, is a leg extension machine. Visit most gyms and fitness centers, and you will find these machines.
Leg extension machines can be used to strengthen your quadriceps and are often used by athletes who play sports such as basketball, soccer, and football. As well as building muscle mass and strengthening your leg muscles, leg extension machines can help in weight loss.
By using these machines correctly with the right number of sets and reps, you can burn fat as well as maintain good bone health.
If you want to strengthen your leg muscles or want more toned legs, a leg extension machine should be on your list of equipment to use the next time you hit the gym. But, before you head to the gym and start working those quads, you should understand how to use a leg extension machine.
In today’s article, we are going to do just that. Read on as we guide you through the steps of using a leg extension machine so you can build the strongest legs you have ever had.
Benefits of Using A Leg Extension Machine
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gym-goer, a leg extension machine can become an important part of your workout routine.
Leg extensions are typically performed with a lever machine. You will usually sit on a padded seat before raising a padded bar with your legs (usually your shins). This type of exercise tends to work the quadriceps muscles the most.
These are found on the front of your thighs and are medically referred to as the rectus femoris and the vastus muscles.
If you are looking to build lower body strength and muscle definition in this area, strength training with a leg extension machine is a great place to start.
In technical terms, a leg extension is an open-chain kinetic exercise. This is different from closed chain kinetic exercises such as squats where the body part you are focusing on and exercising is anchored, such as your feet.
Leg extensions differ as your legs are not stationary as you exercise. As they move the padded bar, the chain of movement becomes open. The result? A leg extension.
Although we use our quads for walking and everyday activities, the majority of us will not build the strength of these muscles in any considerable manner. Quad muscles are often well-developed in cycling. If you partake in cardio often, such as walking or running, then you will exercise your hamstrings on the back of your thigh more than the quads.
If you do a lot of cardio, you can still work on building your quadriceps to develop better balance. Building strength in your quad muscles can also increase the force of your kicking movements which can become extremely beneficial in sports such as soccer or martial arts like kickboxing.
How To Use A Leg Extension Machine: Step-By-Step Guide
Step 1 - Adjust The Weight
Before you jump on a leg extension machine, you will need to adjust the weight to something you can manage. Adjust the weight to something that is appropriate for you to do a number of repetitions. This weight can change depending on what you want to achieve and how quickly you gain strength in your legs and quads.
In general, strength training tends to require lower repetitions with heavier weights. Higher reps with lighter weights are typically more suited for those looking to tone their muscles.
If you’re a relative newbie to working out or have little experience with leg extension machines, we highly recommend starting with lighter weights. You can place additional weights on the machine when and if required. As you improve along with your strength, you can then increase the weight on the leg extension machine.
Step 2 - Adjust The Leg Rest
Once you have adjusted the weight on the machine to something you are comfortable with, you will need to adjust the leg rest. This is very straightforward yet important. You just need to adjust it so your shins sit comfortably on the padded rest of the machine.
Step 3 - Performing Leg Extensions
Now the weight has been adjusted and you are comfortably positioned on the leg extension machine, it is time to complete the movement.
Fortunately, performing leg extensions is pretty simple. All you have to do is sit on the machine with your shins under the padded cushion. Then, gradually straighten your legs until you can fully extend them.
Do this slowly and carefully. And, with a sufficient amount of weight, you should always be able to control how far you move on a leg extension machine. Therefore, you should not just let your legs ‘flop’ downward after the movement.
Your hands should also be placed on the hand bars to your side to give you extra stability. You can push into these bars as you extend your legs.
As you lift the weight with your legs, exhale. Do this until your legs are nearly fully extended. Make sure you do not lock your knees and keep your back against the backrest during the entire range of movement. Arching your back could lead to injury and severe pain. Something that is all too common with strength training.
As you lower the weight back into its starting position, inhale.
If you set the load correctly, you should aim for 10 to 12 repetitions. If this feels too hard, do not be afraid to lower the weight. Beginners are often unsure of what weight they can maintain during 10 to 12 reps but the only way to find out is to set different weights and find your preferred load.
When performing this movement, try to focus on your quads. Make sure these muscles are pushing through the weight lifting. You should never use momentum to swing your legs back up as this can cause an injury.
Try to maintain tension on your quad muscles. You can do this by stabilizing yourself with your hands on the machine’s bars. This can be done after your knees have been fully extended too.
Once you know how, performing knee extensions is not very difficult. If you are unsure, do not be afraid to seek guidance from someone working at the gym.
Although this exercise is generally safe, it does not come without its risks. Stop the exercise if you experience any knee or ankle pain and discomfort. But, if you follow proper form and keep a good posture, leg extensions exercises can become a critical part of your exercise regime.