Fitness Articles

How to Use the Leg Extension Machine

Build Strong Legs

In this exercise, movement will come from the knees.

The Setup
Sit on the chair and place your feet behind the foot pads, which should make contact with your lower shin, just above your ankles. Adjust the seat so that the back of your legs lie flush with the seat and your back is fully supported by the seatback.

The Weight
The quads are pretty strong muscles, but start with a low weight until you are comfortable lifting more. Aim for a weight that is challenging for you to complete one set of 8-12 reps.

The Position
Grasp the handles down at the sides of the chair, or place your hands on your lap. Try to keep your feet and ankles relaxed (do not flex your feet), with your toes pointing naturally forward. Pull your abs in tight to help prevent your back from arching.

The Movement
Straighten your legs and lift the weight slowly as your exhale. Be sure that you don't lock out your knees. Hold this position for 1-2 counts. Inhale and slowly lower your legs back down—but not completely (the weight stack should not slam, but should come close to touching). Aim for 8-12 repetitions and 1-3 sets.

Body Benefit
Strong, shapely thighs

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Member Comments

  • EAYW47
    I am confused. Use or don't use the leg extension machine ?
  • I thought I had read somewhere that this machine is not recommended because it is very hard on the knees. I do use the machines at my fitness center every now and then, and I have included this one, but I can definitely feel the pressure on my knees when I do it.
  • Great article. I go to a gym that is co-ed and I find adjusting the leg machine difficult because I'm short compared to the men there with long legs.

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.