February 11, 2022 8 min read
Squats are a compound exercise, so it works several muscle groups versus focusing on one particular area. This can be beneficial if building strength is your goal, but if you want to maximize your muscle growth, you’ll want to implement isolation exercises such as the leg extension.
With everyone fighting over the squat rack, it can be easy to forget about the machines in the gym.
Although dumbbells and barbells may be seen as more superior than machines, using either consistently can offer similar results to strength and size.
Machines can be beneficial for beginners because they can offer more of a fixed path, making form easier to maintain. They also allow for a proper range of motion, helping reduce the risk of an injury or an inefficient workout. Advanced lifters can also benefit from machines because they can provide more stability, which can help isolate the muscles being worked more.
Isolation exercises can help induce muscle hypertrophy more than compound exercises, so using machines may be a better choice for bodybuilders or anyone looking to increase muscle size.
The leg extension machine is designed to isolate the quadriceps by performing knee extension. This exercise can elicit higher quadricep activation, specifically during eccentric phase, compared to the leg press or traditional barbell exercises.
The primary muscle worked by the leg extension are the quadriceps.
The quads or quadriceps femoris muscle is divided into four parts or muscle groups named the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. This muscle group helps in movements that involve straightening the knees like running, walking, standing, or movements of the legs across its various planes. They bear the weight of the body and need to be strengthened in order to have better agility and mobility for both functional and sporting activities.
These muscles originate from the attachment of the femur to the hip. Due to this connection, the rectus femoris also assists in the hip's flexion.
Together, the quads make up one of the most significant muscles in the body.
Leg extensions also help activate and strengthen the patellar ligament and quadriceps knee attachment. The leg extension exercise works based on torque force. Using a weight that rests close to your ankle joint, you push through your quads to straighten your knee.
The primary benefit of leg extensions is their ability to isolate, target, and strengthen the quad muscles. Unlike other exercises like the square, leg extensions focus on the quad muscles and are a great way to bulk up on your thighs.
Strong quads are a great way to improve power output and athleticism. It strengthens the thighs, acting as a direct improvement in sports that require leg power like football, running, and cycling.
Despite being a simple exercise, common mistakes can ruin a good leg extension workout. This can limit the contraction of your muscles and the equivalent muscle response needed for excellent output.
Here are some tips to help you avoid these common mistakes:
To get the most out of your leg extensions, you must perfect your form during this exercise. What form? You might ask, given that you need to locate the nearest leg extension machine and settle right in.
Like any other exercise, there are particular set rules you need to play by. These rules and tips would ensure that your form is perfect for the engagement of the necessary muscles.
To do the Leg Extension:
Bodyweight leg extensions can be great for firing up your quads and require no equipment other than your own body and gravity. It can be beneficial for muscle strength and for knee health.
To do Bodyweight Leg Extensions:
Another beginner friendly exercise are standing leg extensions, and they can offer similar benefits as a machine, but you focus on one side at a time. This can help ensure each quad is worked equally and can improve bilateral exercises.
To do Standing Leg Extension:
Although resistance bands are commonly used as warm-up devices, they can also be substituted for machines or free weights. The banded leg extension may be able provide similar gains as the machine leg extension, which can make it a great variation that can be done anywhere.
To do Banded Leg Extensions:
Understanding the importance of the quads is crucial for building a stronger lower body. The leg extension eliminates the need for stabilizing or surrounding muscles to take over, so you can fully focus on one muscle group.
We love big, compound lifts like the back squat, but implementing isolation exercises can help make those lifts even bigger and better. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced lifter, you can find a place for the leg extension in your workout.