What is a Leg Extension Machine?

The leg extension machine is one of a dozen or so different fixed weight machines that you will be likely to find in your neighborhood gym. While some fixed weight machines work a variety of muscle groups, the leg extension machine targets one specific group of muscles. The quadriceps are lower leg muscles, and a look at the leg extension machine shows how that structure is built to train and tone the quadriceps.

The Leg Extension Machine: How it Works

When you look at the leg extension machine, you’ll see a seat with a padded bench and back. All of these machines are built a little differently, but they are usually the same in most ways. You will see a rack of weight plates that are connected to a separate leg lock component in the front of the machine by a system of cables and pulleys. To use the leg extension machine, sit in the seat with your legs underneath the padded leg lock. Then adjust the weight, preferably to a low starting weight like 10 or 15 pounds. Push up with your legs, and the leg lock will rise. You will feel the resistance of the machine at work, and you’ll see how this machine gradually builds muscle in your lower legs.

Exercises for the Leg Extension Machine

Since the leg extension machine is a very specific fixed weight machine, there is really only one activity that users generally do on it. The leg extension is the action of raising the legs against the leg lock until they are horizontal, then lowering them back to the starting position.

Working the Leg Extension Machine Into Your Fitness Schedule

Lots of beginning trainers think that they don’t have time for fixed weight machines, or that since these machines don’t really raise your heart rate to the cardio training zone, they’re not important. After all, you’re unlikely to burn even 100 calories even if you spend a really long time sitting on the leg extension machine. However, most trainers will tell you that using fixed weight machines will contribute to your cardio workout over time, as they increase your body’s overall response to resistance and challenges. Most trainers will recommend that you pick out several fixed weight machines that target different muscle groups, and put together a schedule of “repetition sets” where you do each activity a certain number of times with a certain amount of weight. Again, it’s best to start off with a low starting weight and add weight gradually in order to decrease your chances of injury. In general, though, fixed weight machines are preferable to free weights if you are concerned about proper form, since the fixed weight activities are much more guided and have a lower overall chance of injuring users. Think about adding the leg extension machine and similar machines to your fitness regimen.

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