Leg Extensions – Quadriceps Exercise Guide with Photos


Muscles Targeted: The leg extension exercise targets the quadriceps which are the large muscles on the front of your thighs. The quadriceps femoris (or “quads”) include 4 different muscles (the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris) and are a very important part of your overall leg development.


Exercise Instructions: Position yourself securely on the leg extension machine. Make sure your back is flat against the back pad and the machine is correctly positioned with the bottom foot pad just above your ankles. Grab the handles with both hands and make sure your body is stable before beginning the exercise. Begin by lifting the weight by slowly extending both legs up with your feet initiating force against the pad. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Why This Exercise is Important: This is one of the best exercises to warm up your quadriceps before you begin a leg workout. It helps you get blood into the muscles along with warming up the knees before getting into heavier multi-joint exercises like the squat. Proper warm-up is absolutely critical to get your body ready and to avoid injuries.

Things To Avoid: Avoid using too much weight with this exercise. You don’t have to go super heavy with this movement since its main purpose is for getting your quads and knees warmed up for more intense compound exercises. You should also avoid having the bottom foot pad being in the wrong position which usually results in it being too high on the leg near the calves and even as high as just below the knees. The correct position of the foot pad is on the ankles just above the feet.

Reps and Sets: Repetitions should be kept on the higher side at around 15-20 reps per set. Try to complete 2-3 total sets of this exercise before moving onto more compound exercises like the squat. Remember, this is an exercise primarily intended to warm up the muscles of the quads, so focus on higher reps with lighter weight.

Other Exercises To Use: A great exercise to include with the leg extension is the lying hamstring curls which targets the back of the legs. These two exercises are perfect when first getting ready and warmed up for an intense leg workout. You can also add an exercise for the calf muscles as well to make sure the entire area of your legs are primed and ready for some serious training.

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