Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, there’s no doubt that your legs are one of the hardest muscle groups to train. While cardiovascular training is important, if you want to sculpt and define your muscles you need to engage in weight-training. This is why it’s crucial to get a leg day in at the gym, using the best leg exercise machines to target your muscles as effectively as possible.
Leg press machines are a great option for beginners and lifters who may struggle with the mobility or form required to perform exercises such as hack squats (which involve moving your upper legs up and down while your lower legs are in a seated position). As you lie down on the machine you’re able to push a plate upwards, targeting your quads without placing any unnecessary pressure on your knees and hips. While you can use a range of different leg presses for varying intensity levels, the standard leg press machine is arguably the most effective.
The leg extension machine is another classic gym staple, and a good choice for anyone looking to target the quads in a very specific way. The setup of this leg machine is very simple, with you sitting in a seat that’s tucked under a roller and pushing your legs back up against the resistance. The advantage of this machine over other options is that it can be done in either a bilateral or unilateral fashion. The latter means that you can choose to train both of your legs at the same time or to isolate each side, which is a great option for addressing muscle imbalances.
Another popular leg machine is the seated inner / outer thigh machine, which works the abductors and adductors of your outer and inner thighs. This is a very important group of muscles to work, as they help stabilise your knees and pelvis during movement such as walking and running. However, the seated outer / inner thigh machine is not as effective for toning and shaping your thighs, so it’s best to use this in conjunction with other compound movements such as squats.
Lastly, the hamstring curl machine is a great way to target your hamstrings and help build up their strength and size. These are difficult to work in other forms such as free-weights, so it’s a good idea to make this part of your leg workout as well. Basically, you sit down on the machine and pull your legs against a padded bar, with your feet on the footplates of the machine. It’s worth trying different stances and angles for the best results when doing hamstring curls.
The best way to find a suitable machine for you is to visit your local gym and try out the equipment on offer. Once you know which machines are the most effective for your specific goals, then it’s simply a matter of incorporating them into your routine and training your legs regularly.
Milena Estêvão is a YouTuber passionate about sharing her experiences (challenges, successes and motivations) in the fitness activities she is involved in.
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