Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Leg extension: Do I, don't I?

  Main Muscle Group: Quads
  Secondary Muscle(s): None
  Exercise Type: Strength
  Equipment Required: Machine
  Mechanics: Isolation
  Force Type: Push
  Experience Level: Beginner

 Now what:

1.     The leg extension is a great movement for isolating the quads. Sit on the leg extension machine and adjust it so that the leg pad sits on your ankles.
2.        Then adjust the back rest so that your knees are just off the end of the seat. If you are miniature then a support behind your back may be necessary.
3.        Select the weight you want to use on the stack.  Contemplate… Now select the stack you SHOULD use on the stack.
4.        Take the weight off the rack by stretching your legs marginally. This is the initial position for the exercise.
5.        Grasping onto the handles for stability and dear life, and bending at the knees only, extend your legs out as far as possible.
6.        Hold for a count of 1 to 2 while squeezing your quads, and then slowly lower legs back to the starting position. The weight shouldn’t touch the stack, unless you are finishing your set, or you are fatigued.
7.        Repeat for desired reps.

Performance Pointers:
1.      Use a slow and controlled movement - do not "kick" the weights up.  It is not a happy sack, it is a controlled isolated movement.
2.        Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your quads to add intensity to the leg extension.  I like to hold 3 to 5 seconds on the final 3, just for a little extra leg burn!
3.        Regarding your fitness program, this exercise can be used as a pre-exhaust exercise for lunges, squats or other big compound movements. It can also be used for the second exercise in compound/isolation supersets.
4.        Try not to drop your toes down and back beyond your knees. Your knees shouldn’t track out over your toes as it may causes undue stress on the knee joints.
5.        By turning your toes either out or in during your set, you are able to concentrate more specifically on inner and outer muscles of the quadriceps.

I’m just saying:
Many people have a strong opinion in regards to the leg extension, mostly negative:
·      “The leg extension doesn’t work the quad muscle in a productive manner”
·      “Leg extension machine is dangerous to your knee joint”
·      “Does my butt look big in this leg extension machine?”
Okay, so maybe the last concern is not too common, but you would be surprised by some of the conversations we hear at the gym!

I’m not saying you should use it or avoid it. (Truth is told; this could be said for every exercise in the gym.)  There is a reason why trainers write you a program; everyone has a different body; every body is not suited to every exercise.

People claim the leg extension machine is completely useless for building muscle. Lies I say!  (My opinion.) There is a good deal of times where it can serve a constructive purpose. But… even if it’s going to be a useful part of your lower body training, it’s going to be a very small secondary part of it. You still need to remember that we’re only talking about a quad isolation exercise here.  If you ever train with me then you know I am a lover of compound exercises!  Why work one muscle when you can work 2, 3 or 4 muscles at once?  (But then again I have always preferred a buffet as apposed to a set menu.  Why have one meal, when you can have 3, 4 or 5…)
Treasures like squats, deadlifts, lunge variations, leg presses and more should get the majority of room on your plate, (I mean majority of your time, effort and focus).
If you currently have an existing knee problem, the leg extension exercise may not be the best option for you unless otherwise recommended by a medical professional.
If it hurts your knee… think about it brainiac… DO NOT USE IT!