Fitness experts have always stressed the significance of the leg workout. Skipping a ‘leg day’ is not something many professionals recommend. Leg workout is crucial for a perfectly balanced whole-body fitness routine. It is an integral part of training for fitness enthusiasts striving to build strength, improve speed, and acquire stability. Skipping a leg day leads to an ineffective workout, and nobody wants to see their hard work and sweat go down the drain.
Focusing on the upper body alone negatively impacts a person’s balance and even reduces an individual’s athletic performance. Leg workout helps people acquire a strong and stable foundation for their body. The resistance created through this form of exercise has an impressive impact on one’s upper body and core.
Leg extension is an exercise highly praised for the phenomenal benefits it offers to people when it comes to leg workouts. Helping improve the flexion of hips and working for the knee extension, the leg extension is a fundamental part of a leg workout. It is a form of exercise that targets quadriceps muscles. While strengthening this group of muscles, this exercise also adds strength to the knee joint’s key attachments. It can be performed after squats and deadlifts for maximizing the impact. The leg extension is an excellent isolation exercise for strengthening the leg, making it a critical part of the workout. These strength training exercise benefits are not hidden, but the debate over whether it is a practical movement or not still prevails.
Pros and Cons of Leg Extensions
The leg extension specifically works the quads. This is a form of exercise that has acquired popularity among fitness fanatics. It is always a part of a workout plan that is helping people build big and strong quads. With its roots in bodybuilding, the leg movement is not a part of a branded fitness regimen or even a HIIT class. This exercise can be performed while being seated indicates that leg extensions are an effective way to work out for people with knee problems. Even though it is an unpopular belief, leg extensions do reduce the impact on the knees.
A leg extension is a form of strength training that only works on the quads. Expecting to improve the overall leg strength after this exercise is not a wise move as it only works the quads. Besides, leg extension considerably increases the risk of injury due to the extensive pressure on the knees. Another drawback, an individual will need a Leg Extension Machine for performing it at home or in-between their working hours.
People with ligament injuries should avoid this exercise, as the leg extension applies constant tension on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Contradictory to the common belief, leg extensions are not suitable for athletes. It is just not the right choice of exercise if athleticism is the goal of a person. This exercise does not feature a natural movement, making many people question the effectiveness of this exercise.
Many people wonder if there are any ways they can enjoy the benefits of this exercise without its negative aspects. A piece of good news for all such individuals is that some leg extension alternatives provide fantastic fitness benefits. These are exercises or movements that merge leg extension effectiveness while reducing its negative impact on one’s body. People who are on the lookout for a smart workout session need to look for leg extension alternatives that do not require a full setup of a leg extension machine.
Best Leg Extension Alternatives
Fortunately for the people who are still struggling to figure out whether leg extensions are for them, there are alternative movements. These alternate exercises help build muscles, lower the stress on knees, and make a workout super effective while cutting down leg extensions’ negative aspects. These alternate exercises aid injury recovery, injury prevention and even helps one avoid the over-development of quadriceps.
Reverse Nordic Curl
When it comes to leg extension alternatives, Reverse Nordic Curl appears on the top of the list. Many professionals also refer to this exercise as the ‘natural leg extension.’ The benefits of this exercise are hard to overlook. While developing the strength in the four quadriceps, including rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius, this exercise enhances mobility and improves the flexion of hips. In addition to this, it considerably reduces the risk of injuries that one may be exposed to due to rapid muscle movement.
To start with this exercise, one needs to kneel on the workout mat and sit back on the feet. As beginners, people need to ensure that the distance between their knees and feet is equal to the hip-width. For fitness enthusiasts who are experienced and need some challenge can move to increase the distance a bit. Once the distance has been set, individuals need to acquire a position to sit tall while their hips are pushed forward. When a workout enthusiast creates a straight line at the front side of their body, it indicates they are in the correct position.
An individual can begin by leaning back while lowering the shoulders toward the floor. This is possible by bending the knee. One needs to ensure that their hips are extended with the core fully engaged. One may lean back to a point where they can control. Once a person reaches their limit, they can slowly return to their position.
For maximum impact, a set of ten reputations is enough for one workout session.
The next leg extension alternate that is recommended by the professionals is the barbell reverse lunges. While targeting the glutes, this exercise helps an individual add strength to their quad muscles. It is a powerful choice as people can work their glutes and the hamstrings simultaneously, something not possible with leg extensions. Not only this, but barbell reverse lunges provide exceptional results in terms of core activation.
People can enjoy leg extensions and other fitness perks by performing this exercise that can be efficiently done at home or even in the workplace. First, one must take a standing position where the feet are placed at a distance equal to the shoulder width. Once this is achieved, one needs to put one foot slightly backward from the other. They can now lower themselves into a one-legged squat position. The foot must be placed at a position that makes one feel the tension in the quads.
At the bottom of the movement, one needs to bend their knees and push through heels to get back on their feet. Speed is essential here; the slower the movement, the greater is the impact. The slow speed provides control to an individual.
For better results: Position a weighted bar across your upper back, holding your hands’ ends to keep it stable.
Bulgarian Split Squats
The third on the list is of best leg extension alternates are the Bulgarian split squats. The best thing about this exercise is that one only needs a stable chair to perform it, unlike the leg extensions that require a bulky leg extension machine. While working on the quadriceps, this exercise also helps people work their claves, abs, glutes, and even hamstrings. This exercise is all about balance, allowing one to activate their core and work their upper body.
It engages the full-body, which makes this exercise a smart alternative to a leg movement that exerts excessive strain on the knees. To perform this exercise, one needs to place a bench and stand at a position where he faces the opposite side. By pushing the shoulders back, the fitness fanatics need to engage their core. An individual needs to stand straight and place the left foot on the bench placed behind them. One needs to start bending the knee to the point that they acquire a position similar to that when doing a single leg plunge.
Using the right foot, a person doing this exercise needs to get back to the initial standing position.
The muscles responsible for assisting people in movements such as climbing stairs are what the Step Ups work on. These are an excellent alternative to the leg extensions. They strengthen all muscles that help a person climb stairs and even hike on steep mountains without stress. Making this a part of a workout routine may help an individual improve every muscle’s functioning, contributing to everyday activities.
For this exercise, one needs to use a bench that is slightly below the knee level. For the initial positioning, individuals need to place their left foot on the bench. The next step is to step onto the bench and place it beside the left foot. The correct upward motion is when the left heel is pressed. To complete the motion, the right foot needs to be stepped down from the bench.
Leg extensions are movements that help strengthen the quads, but they do just that. With sandbag squats, one enjoys the outcomes of leg extensions and gets a chance to improve their posture, develop core strength, and even fortify the lower back muscles.
To achieve these benefits, one has to place a large sandbag between their feet while standing straight. The distance between both feet must be greater than the hip-width. The movement begins with bending at the hips, with a straight back and hands scooped under the sandbag. It is followed by a quick drive up, with hands wrapped around the sandbag. After coming back in the standing position with shoulder blades locked down. The next step is to achieve a squat position with an upright body. The last step is to raise the body back and repeat the squats.
Leg extensions are a vital part of a workout, but they have a dark side too. This exercise puts excessive strain on the knees as it is not a natural movement. Even after such extensive efforts, one is only able to work their quads. These alternate are chosen by those who wish to maximize their workout potential. Whenever a person has a choice of going with an alternate, they need to take it… This is what smart workout fanatics do!
The article has been researched & compiled by the Editorial F5F Team, a group of experienced fitness & health writers.