Leg extensions are an excellent workout that function to strengthen the four muscles that make up the quadriceps – the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. A leg extension machine is commonly paired with a leg curl machine and is very popular among those who lift.
In this blog, we’ll look at the top 5 benefits of using a leg extension machine.
There are many benefits to incorporating leg extensions into your strength training. For example, the rectus femoris is the most commonly injured quad muscle in athletic activity, so strengthening this muscle is a great way to avoid future injury.
Here are some other reasons to consider using a leg extension machine:
While squats will always reign supreme in terms of functionality and strength development for developing quad strength, there are many instances where squats are not the best choice for people. For if you’ve recently been injured and can’t do the technical aspects of a squat correctly you risk further injury. In these instances, a leg extension is an exercise you’ll still be able to perform.
Another reason leg extensions are great for beginners is that they are easy to learn. There is a very small learning curve since using a leg extension machine is straightforward and easy to use. The limited range of motion and fixed path of the resistance also means users are less likely to get injured while using it.
Whether you’re a swimmer, runner, cyclist, or play a sport such as football or soccer strengthening your quads will help improve your athleticism. In fact, any sport that relies on quad strength will benefit from leg extensions in order to give you more power and stamina.
Due to the way leg extensions are performed those with a recent knee injury or who have weak knees can still perform this exercise safely without risking further injury or straining the tendons and ligaments around the knee. Leg extensions are ideal as they help to reduce the load placed on the knee and allow the user to direct their energy on the contraction of their quadriceps.
If your goal to ultimately strengthen your knee you should progress through various exercises beginning with leg extensions. Once your knee feels stronger and sturdier you can progress to using a leg press, box squats, and eventually barbell back squats.
Anyone who is serious about lifting and wants to be better in tune with the eccentric and concentric phases of a quad-dominated lift must incorporate leg extensions into their workouts. When using a leg extension machine your quads are in front of you allowing you to see the musculature flex and contract as you move through the motions.
Other workouts that build up the quad muscles such as squats don’t allow you to see the muscle as it contracts. The reason seeing your muscles work is important is muscle awareness. Understanding how your muscles are contracting to counter resistance and working helps you understand the movement and gives you a better sense of how your muscles react to the load. Overall, this will help you perform better and stronger.
The leg extension provides a great opportunity to train unilaterally, which means working out on one side of your body or only one limb at a time. Training unilaterally is an excellent way to help improve muscle imbalances, build more muscle, and get a better sense of just how much you may be leaning on your dominant side when doing bilateral lifts.
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro it’s easy to lose sight of how much you’re using your dominant side to compensate when lifting which can also alter your lifting technique. This is one of the main reasons injuries occur when lifting. Unilateral training is a great way to address muscular imbalances, better engage the core, and improve unilateral-specific strength.