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Leg Extensions

Leg extensions -- exercise to strengthen the quadriceps

Leg extensions build the quadriceps muscles -- the large muscles at the front of the thighs.

Leg extensions are an isolation exercise -- they work a single group of muscles. Therefore they are a complement to compound exercises for the legs such as the leg press.

Start in the seated position with the legs at 90 degrees

Leg extensions -- starting position

Leg extensions -- starting position

The pads should be resting comfortably against the front of the lower legs just above the ankles. Contract the thigh muscles and extend the leg at the knee.

Fully extend the leg

Leg extensions -- second position

Leg extensions -- second position

Tighten the thigh muscles to fully extend the leg. Hold the contraction for a moment. Then slowly return to the starting position.

Don't just let the weight drop. Make sure you get the benefit of the eccentric movement in this exercise.

Balance your workouts

The machine in this demonstration has a separate mechanism for each leg. If you use this kind of machine you will get equal development in each leg.

Unlike the leg press, this exercise does not work the hamstrings. Therefore when you do leg extensions you should also do hamstring exercises to keep the muscles in balance.

Exercise intensity

This is an exercise where you can learn something about exercise intensity. And you can learn something about yourself. Why?

Because when you do leg extensions -- more than almost any other exercise -- you will feel a burning pain in the legs.

Now, this is not a bad thing. It's just that the quadriceps muscles are very strong. They can do a lot of work. And they can build up a lot of lactic acid while they work. And as the lactic acid builds up you feel burning in the thighs.

But because they are so strong you can continue. Physically you can continue. You can do more repetitions. After the burning starts you can do more. Three more? Four? Five?

Can you push yourself?

But will you do a few more reps? It doesn't cause you any harm. It doesn't damage the muscle. It's just a sensation. Nothing more. Nothing less. So it's one of those times in your life where you can see what you're made of.

Can you do a little more? Can you push yourself a little? Can you work through some discomfort to come out better on the other side? Well, the truth is you can. And sometimes you should. You'll be better for it.

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