Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t describe ~200lbs pounds of angular force pulling down on your knees, as you are actively trying to extend them against this force in a seated position, as being “minimal stress” on the knee joint. This exercise mainly targets the quadriceps. He has more than eight years of experience as a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and lifestyle coach. Its important not to put your knees under risk while doing leg exercises. Terminal knee extension offers you an opportunity to avoid a traditional leg press. This can lead to cartilage damage. In fact, this is the most important part of the movement, according to Smith. Unless you want to build up your quads for aesthetic reasons or improve kicking movements, the exercise is not very practical. The leg extension machine has been demonized in the fitness industry for the last two decades. When you squat, the thickest part of the cartilage is loaded during the squat's maximum force. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM "It's a full contraction, which you can't achieve on anything else in a quad-focused exercise," he says. When it all comes down to it, any exercise that allows you to place consistent tension on the targeted muscle and that allows for a progressive increase in resistance over time will result in muscular hypertrophy. 1) They are definitely not a “useless” exercise, and they will allow you to add size to your quads over time if performed properly. How Much Muscle Can You Gain Naturally, And How Fast? Thanks for checking out my article! Building your quads with the leg-extension exercise also helps improve the force of kicking movements. After all, this exercise is one of the few options when it comes to isolating your quads. . Dr. Bailey is also an Anatomy and Physiology professor. Let's say you do want to include this exercise into your fitness routine, even knowing the risks. 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ALL I’m pointing out is the simple fact that they can be included as part of an overall quad training routine in specific cases, and that they are definitely not a “useless” exercise like so many people try to say. Copyright Policy Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions and I\'ll get back to you as soon as I can. Now let's get to the real workout. Then you extend your knees against resistance and bend them back down to perform one repetition. It's accused of creating chronic knee irritation by creating highly compressive forces at the patella-femoral joint, leading to breakdown of the joint surfaces. 2) They can be included at the end of your quad workout if they don’t give you any discomfort, and if you have a specific application for them, such as lower back fatigue from your compound lifts, a lower back injury, posterior-chain dominant body structure or if you just want to perform additional high rep work for your quads. It really depends on you. The single-joint action at the knee allows this muscle to actively lengthen and shorten, leading to more intense contractions impossible through compound exercises like the squat or leg press. Plenty of guys want big quads, which is why this machine gets major traffic. Doctors usually advise against machine leg extensions when someone has knee problems, but seated leg extensions are totally safe. Weight training or strengthening with weight bearing are things like squats using weights or your body weight. The leg extension allows you to accomplish both of these things, and so yes, it certainly will add size to your quads over time. You want to include some additional volume for your quads but your lower back (or just your body in general) is already worn out from your heavy compound lifts. I don’t know of any muscle building exercise out there that gets more blatant hate than the leg extension machine. It should not be considered as a total leg workout, such as the squat or deadlift. any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. On top of that, it’s safer to do this type of exercise, since it protects ligaments and muscles located around your knee joint. If your goal is build your leg muscles, use ankle weights, resistance bands, or exercise machines to increase the difficulty. I hope you found the information useful. Extend your legs, but don't lock them out, which can strain the knee joint. How To Perform. Let the pad rest on your shins just above your feet. In fact, they’ll strengthen the knees. In fact, in most cases they won’t be necessary, and I don’t have them included as part of the quad training routines in my program either. To a large extent, whether or not your knees are safe when using the leg press depends on your intent. The machine is likely familiar: You sit in the padded seat and hook the tops of your feet under a movable lever. The exercise consists of bending the leg at the knee and extending the legs, then lowering them back to the original position. Nobody has a problem with the idea that these exercises are effective for building muscle, so I’m not sure why the leg extension tends to be viewed differently. Stabilization Is The Key! It also fails to engage the hamstring in supporting the knee, while putting a lot of force on the joint. (BODYBUILDING & SPORTS). Don’t all machines cause injury over time? 2021 You can also optionally cycle on and off them just to go even more on the safe side. Even though it doesn’t target your hamstrings as leg press would do, it certainly does a better job than a leg extension. Is leg extension bad for knees? The leg extension places maximum force on the back of the patella ("knee cap"), the thinnest portion of the cartilage. I’m not even saying that they’re a particularly great exercise, or that they’ll contribute in any big way to your quad training efforts. Now, let me make a few things clear here…. He told me that starting with the legs at a 90 degree angle (lower leg perpendicular to the floor) put incredible … Sure, leg extensions are an isolation exercise, but so are bicep curls, tricep extensions, leg curls and calf raises. First off, there’s absolutely no question that the foundation of effective quad training lies in heavy compound exercises such as squats, leg presses and lunges. I think it’s pretty obvious that in this particular case, the leg extension machine should be completely avoided. A Japanese group recently reviewed eight large studies on the knee arthritis best exercise. What does leg curl machine work? When the quadriceps are stronger than the hamstrings, particularly in women, your knee loses stability and is at a greater risk of injury. Leaf Group Ltd. While leg extensions effectively build quad strength, this exercise also significantly increases the risk of damage to your knee joints. After you have finished leg extensions, your knees should be cooperating fully, with blood, adrenaline, and excitement flowing through them. The tension from start to finish is constant, and the full contraction is where you feel the burn most. There is no universal answer to this question, as it always depends on the person in question. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. The leg extension also increases the risk of lateral patellar deviation, meaning the knee cap can slide right or left unnaturally. advertisements are served by third party advertising companies. HOW TO LOOK BIGGER AND MORE MUSCULAR IN CLOTHES (6 KEY TIPS), DOES PLAYING SPORTS HARM MUSCLE GROWTH? Performing the 4 steps below, you will be able to do this exercise properly: Be seated on a leg extension machine and fix your legs under the pad. The leg extension applies constant tension on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), so people with ligament injuries should avoid this exercise. His articles have been published throughout the Internet. Okay, so the easy part is done. Biomechanists call the squat "physiologic flexion" because it is a natural movement. Final Word On Leg Extensions For Building Muscle. It should not be Although most people will give a black-and-white “yes” or “no” to this question, the real answer is that it depends on your individual body structure, and it depends on how you perform them. But as a performanceenhancement coach who gets a lot of corrective training projects, I'm more interested in risk-to-benefit ratio (maximize benefit and reduce the ris… The leg extension, or knee extension, is a type of strength training exercise. A reverse step-up and backward walk across the treadmill can too be transported by the practitioners for the same. The purpose of this article is not to encourage you to perform leg extensions in your routine or to claim that they’re a necessary part of an effective overall quad training workout. If you do choose to use it, make sure you have proper form and only add the amount of weight that's appropriate for your fitness level to keep your knees safe. For example, 6-12 weeks on followed by 6-12 weeks off. Sit upright on a chair and keep the knees bent at a 90-degree angle. ), 12 Common Bench Press Mistakes And How To Fix Them, The Best Bodybuilding Carbs Sources For Muscle Growth. People who want to isolate their quads without activating other muscles of the legs or glutes benefit from the leg extension. Always use a light weight when performing this exercise to reduce the chance of injury to your knee. His company, Rockwell Fitness, is dedicated to educating and empowering others to live healthy lifestyles. (SAFE FOR YOUR KNEES? The leg extension is an exercise designed to focus almost exclusively on your quads. Read more: The Best Workout for Bad Knees. Aubrey Bailey is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with an additional degree in psychology and board certification in hand therapy. So, to help you out, here is a list of leg extension alternatives that will build you monster quads for sure. It’s critical to understand the tools that you are working with to maximise your results. If you are going to include leg extensions in your routine, they should always be done at the very end after all of your compound work is done. Heavy metal legend spills on his 'George Michael moment' In most cases, the people who claim that leg extensions don’t build muscle on the quads are the very same people who happily perform leg curls to build muscle on their hamstrings. The leg extension is a stalwart isolation exercise that puts all the focus on your quads and it acts as the perfect complement to the leg curl, which isolates the hamstrings. used as a substitute for professional medical advice, You’re particularly posterior-chain dominant and your glutes/hamstrings tend to take on a high percentage of the work during your compound leg exercises. But all the macho chest-thumping aside, what’s the real truth here? Plus, the functional training benefits realized in a leg extension do not carry over into real life. The leg extension, in contrast, places a lot of stress on the knee joint, but does so in a completely unnatural position. Nobody has a problem with the idea that these exercises are effective for building muscle, so I’m not sure why the leg extension tends to be viewed differently. Secondly, I’m not saying that you need leg extensions in your routine or even that you should be performing them. IS 30 REPS PER SET EFFECTIVE FOR BUILDING MUSCLE? Extend and lower your leg slowly when doing this exercise. For some people, regardless of how they approach the exercise, they’ll always experience knee discomfort no matter what. Risk of injury. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the When you do choose to use the leg extension machine, incorporate hamstring-strengthening exercises such as hamstring curls into your training program as well. Also, remember to … Finally, strengthening without weight bearing usually involves using the machines you see at the gym like the leg extension machine. and Then straighten your legs and raise your feet toward the ceiling. Align your knees under your hips and place your hands under your shoulders. There are a few reasons. diagnosis or treatment. A leg curl machine works the back or the posterior of the leg, or the hamstrings. Leg extension workouts are carried out to shape up quads muscles, pelvis and knees. You experience lower back discomfort in general (or are recovering from an injury) and need an exercise for your quads that doesn’t place your lower back at risk. What our surgeon said after each and every surgery was that if we were intent on doing leg extensions, in order to preserve knee integrity, it should always be a secondary exercise, always at lower weights/higher rep ranges, and the starting point should be somewhere around 45 degrees. It’s safer to do leg extensions without weights than to use the leg extension machine. The leg-extension exercise targets the quadriceps, and it's a relatively simple and intuitive exercise — there's no nuance in bending and extending your knee joint. Slowly lift one leg and straighten it as you engage the quadriceps. Keep your feet pointed forward. The leg extension, along with hack and sissy squats, are the best exercises to develop the rectus femoris, the V-shaped two-headed muscle on the upper middle portion of the front thigh. The leg extension is an isolated exercise targeting one specific muscle group, the quadriceps. Most gym regulars have heard that locking out your knees on the leg extension is what causes pain. These are just a few situations where leg extensions could be a useful addition to your training plan. So if there's risk, why would someone want to use this machine?