Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned lifter, isolation exercises like leg extensions are an essential component of any strength training routine. These exercises allow you to isolate and target a specific muscle group, eliminating the need for other muscles to assist during the movement, which makes them convenient when targeting a weakness or overcoming an injury.
Leg extension machines are particularly popular among beginner lifters as they don’t require a significant learning curve and can be used from the comfort of your own home. Using the machine is simple — simply set it up according to your body size, sit on the bench and put your knees under the padded rollers, grip the handles for stability and then slowly extend your legs until they are straight but don’t lock your knees. Once your legs are straight, hold the position for a second before slowly lowering your legs back down to the starting point.
The biggest benefit of leg extensions is that they are an effective way to strengthen the quadriceps muscles, which helps reduce the risk of knee injuries. This is because the quads help support and stabilize the knee joint, which in turn can reduce the strain on the knee ligaments. Strong quads can also help you perform daily activities like walking, climbing stairs and squatting with greater ease.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that while this exercise is beneficial for most people, it is not recommended for anyone with knee or knee joint problems. Performing this exercise without proper form or under too much weight can result in knee pain or even a serious injury.
One of the main reasons McCall doesn’t recommend leg extensions is that they don’t offer as many benefits as other exercises like squats, especially for beginners and those with bad knees. Squats, on the other hand, work the quads and other leg muscles more effectively, and are less likely to cause injury.
While there’s no denying the benefits of leg extensions, it’s important to note that they aren’t the best option for everyone, especially if you have knee or knee joint issues. Having said that, it’s still worth including them in your routine, provided you take the necessary precautions to ensure you are doing them correctly and with a suitable weight load.
In order to minimize the chances of a knee injury, it’s crucial that you use a leg extension machine that offers plenty of adjustability, as well as the right amount of resistance. If you’re a beginner, start with a lighter weight and then gradually increase your load as you get more comfortable with the motion and can handle it safely. A lower weight will also mean that you’ll be able to perform the movements for longer, increasing the time your muscles are under tension, a key factor in muscle growth.
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