Leg Extensions: Developing the Lower Thighs

When looking to add an additional leg exercise to your regime to create variety, your eyes may begin to wander towards the leg extensions machine.

Leg extensions – performed using a machine – are an exercise to work the thighs, particularly the lower area.

Now, as a rule of thumb, I don’t recommend using leg extensions as a core thigh exercise, they simply won’t bring the kind of results a leg press or various squats will. Probably not even close. But, like I say, as an additional exercise or something to emphasise the lower region of the thighs, why not give them a go?

Leg extensions are performed in a seated position, and are an isolation exercise in that no other muscles are used during the lift but the thighs.

Here’s how they are done…

  • Sit comfortably in the machine, back flush against the padded rest, but firmly in the crux of the seat (we don’t want you slipping out!)
  • Place shins under the lifting lever.
  • Ensure knee is aligned with the axis of the lever, so the machine bends in full synchronisation with your knee.
  • Hold onto the handles at the side of the seat to help keep yourself held down.
  • Using your thighs, curl the weight up as far as you can to achieve a full contraction.
  • Lower the weight slowly.

You should always ensure that you keep yourself seated. If the weight is too heavy or as the sets progress you’ll have a tendency to lift your butt off the seat and cheat, and you want to avoid doing this as much as possible. If you can’t perform the majority of your sets with very strict form – barring the end few of the last set which should be challenging – then you are simply lifting too heavy and need to take some weight off.

Also, you’ll find you have a tendency to begin lowering the weight as it gets tougher, so having a training partner there – or your eyes set on something to aim for with the first good reps – to mark the spot you need to hit, is a good idea.

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