Leg Extension Overview
The leg extension is a lower body isolation movement designed to isolate the quad muscles. This can be used to overload the quad muscles without loading the spine and can also be a very effective warm up exercise for the knees.
Our quad muscles are very strong so it's important that we work slowly and allow our muscles/knees/ligaments to warm up to keep them safe and healthy.
An extension focuses on the muscles of the quad in particular the vests medialus, more commonly known as the tear drop which sits right down on the inside of our knee. If you have knee pain at the moment this can be a great exercise to strengthen then muscles to support the knees. However we should ensure we are fully warmed up, activated and also starting with lighter weights to ensure we're working with our bodies not against them.
When setting up we want to ensure that the back of the knee is hard up against the pad of the machine. We also want to keep the back pad pressed into us and keep our torso in an upright position through the entire movement.
How to Execute
Once you've selected a light weight to start and have yourself set up on the machine we will extend slowly at the knee. We want to raise up until the feet are almost at the height of our knees but stopping just before that. We want to prevent locking our knees our and forcefully contract our quads through the moment. Lower the weight down slowly while returning to the starting position.
A good reference point is to do a 1-2 seconds up then 2-3 seconds down rep tempo.
When To Do Leg Extensions
This can be completed at the start of a workout to warm up the knees or pre-exhaust the quads. It can also be done after big movements like squats and leg presses to further tax the quads without loading the spine.