The leg extension machine is a nice piece of exercise equipment that can help strengthen the quads and lower body. It’s also one of the most controversial exercise equipment out there. Whether you are a pro at leg extensions or brand new here at five reasons the leg extension machine benefits your health.
What are leg extensions?
Let’s start with a review on what leg extensions are. (If you fall into the “pro” category feel free to skip to the health benefits, but if you’re not as familiar with leg extensions and what they do, here is a brief overview.)
A leg extension machine is a padded chair with a padded bar for your legs to raise up. While sitting comfortably in the chair your legs (and the bar they are holding up) raise from a 90 degree angle extended to about 180 degrees. The leg machine is a pretty focused piece of exercise equipment, and there isn’t much else you can use a leg extension machine for besides leg extensions.
Some leg extension machines have weight that can be attached to make the exercise a bit harder, and the overall purpose of a leg extension machine is to strengthen and workout the legs and quads. Leg extensions are essential and the machine is pretty common in most gyms.
Why leg extensions?
Leg extensions have many helpful benefits that make them such a fundamental exercise in your workout routine. They do wonders for your legs and thighs, and they are straight forward and easy to use. They work really well for people with back pain because you can sit in a comfortable chair as you do them, and they are a great way to bulk up and define your quads.
With all the benefits leg extensions have, it’s no wonder that body builders swear by them, and the leg extension machine is one of the most popular pieces of equipment in the gym. Below is a list of five benefits that leg extensions have on health, as well as all the rest.
How to properly perform a leg extension
The leg extensions seems fairly simple. All you have to do is sit and move your legs up and down- how hard can it be, right? While that is true, properly performing leg extensions are crucial to get the most benefits out them.
Using the machine the right way will prevent injury, keep you safe, and help you build excellent thighs.
To properly use the leg extension machine start by properly setting up and sitting in the right place. Make sure that your knees are aligned with the end of the seat and press you back into the chair comfortably.
The roller (or pad that your ankles fit under) should be at a comfortable position in front of your ankles. (For an easier start you can position your feet a few inches out instead of directly underneath you.) Keep your core engaged while performing the exercise.
Raise your ankles up so your legs are at a 180 degree angle and hold for a couple seconds then slowly bring them down into the start position. Do as many reps as you would like. (Although many people recommend going lighter on the reps and weight to put less strain on the knees.) Make sure not to lock your knees while extending them.
5 benefits leg extensions have for your health
1. Strengthens thighs and quads
The leg extension is one of the best exercises for your thighs and quads. It specifically targets your quadratic muscles, including the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and the vastus intermedius, the muscles in the front and sides of your thighs. (muscles that just doing squats can’t aways reach.) If you are looking to bulk up and strengthen your thighs and quads- leg extensions are the exercise for you.
2. Good for knees
This benefit is where all the controversy comes in- one of the biggest complains against leg extensions is that it puts stress on the joints and is bad for the knees. Although, a little stress can be a good thing and can help muscles get stronger.
While it’s probably not a good idea to do a leg extension if you’ve just come out of an ACL surgery, there are many studies that show that leg extensions are actually helpful to the knees. Helping with improved range of motion, function, strength, and decreased pain.
This good-for-the-knees-benefit is said with a word of caution- you do use your knees in the leg extension exercise, so if you feel pain while doing it, or if you have had a history of knee injuries the leg extension might not be the best for you.
However, the other side says that leg extensions might actually be helpful for knee problems by building quality muscle to support your knee joint. Additionally, your joints can strengthen up by doing this resistance exercise. Just start off simple and grow gradually from there. If you’re not sure it’s always good to talk to your doctor about whether leg extensions are something you should be doing.
3. Blood Flow to legs & boost Testosterone
Another health benefit to leg extensions is the increased blood flow to the legs. Your legs do a lot of heavy lifting, walking around and holding up body weight. It is crucial to taking good care of them. Leg extensions are one of the best ways to increase blood circulation and help your legs and boost testosterone in men.
4. Helps the Sciatic nerve
Your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back and down each leg. Sciatica is a condition where your sciatic nerve becomes pinched from either an overgrown bone, or a herniated disk, or even some diseases like diabetes, and can cause mild to severe pain, numbness, or loss of feeling in one leg. Exercising regularly plays a key factor in preventing this. (Sedentary people are typically more likely to get sciatica than active people,) and leg extensions are a great lover body exercise that can help prevent it.
5. Safe for Back
Another big reason people like leg extensions are because of the comfort and ease that it provides, especially for the upper body. Leg extensions work the thighs, giving your back and arms a break. It is a really great option for people who struggle with back injuries.
Leg extensions are a great exercise, and have many benefits. They are a great addition to your workout routine. However, because the leg extension is such a focused exercise, make sure you still are exercising the other parts of your body as well.