This content is imported from {embed-name}. And I’m going to help you with that, and I’m also going to give you some leg workouts you can do without squats. And maxing out the machine can have serious issues. Most real-life leg actions don’t solely involve knee extension; even kicking a soccer ball, for example, starts with an aggressive drive of the hip, not the knee. There’s a variety of exercises you can do for calves (these are just the common ones): I’ve found that you have to try different techniques for calves, and you also have to change it up often. According to Miami Dade, the leg extension involves three different types of muscle contractions. If you’re smart and you want big quads, you’ll utilize that pump more creatively. Do NOT round your back on this exercise (or any exercise, for that matter) rep. Hone in on that mind-to-muscle connection and pull the weight up using your hamstrings instead of your lower back. When you work out, focus on weight training, and do deadlifts, squats, and calf raises to build your leg muscles. You want that stretch at the end, and you want to go all the way up. THE MUSCLE PROGRAM, all rights reserved. If you’re trying to run, jump, or play sports better, this isn’t a move for you. It also … So you can use the leg extension to “wake up” your quads after a surgery or traumatic injury, but at some point, it needs to learn to fire collaboratively with other muscles. As your quads get stronger, you need to make sure to strengthen your hamstrings, too; if you don’t, you could easily develop knee issues or place yourself at risk for knee injuries when playing sports. Question 9 In addition to weight training, what other activity does Cutler credit with dramatically … So you can benefit from not using too much weight. If you’ve ever been in a big-box gym before, you’ve seen plenty of guys doing classic leg exercises like squats and lunges and deadlifts. That you should do leg extensions instead of exercises like squats, deadlifts, split squats, lunges or leg presses. How often in your day do you have to extend your knee with maximum strength under load? One major benefit to the leg extension is that you can control the movement and focus on your quad. This is going to really blast your quads and make them grow. Ask them … While there’s no question that basic compound exercises such as squats, leg presses and lunges should form the cornerstone of your quad training routine, a few sets of leg extensions at the end of your quad workout can definitely be a useful addition in certain situations. Improve your ability to get up from a chair and walk. Keep the tension on your quads and glutes the entire time. Leg Machines. Another awesome hamstring exercise is stiff-leg deadlifts. But the leg extension machine has been unjustly maligned for many years. If you’ve ever been to CrossFit, you won’t see anyone in the room doing leg extensions. Share on Pinterest. Remember how your legs work! The tips I’m giving you below are crucial for building your hamstrings, so please pay attention! Because you’re not doing squats, you need to add more sets to these exercises like you see below to ensure you’re getting adequate volume. Try one-leg leg extensions every other leg workout. I mean, if Arnold does it, I should too! A lot of people use leg extensions and leg presses as their go-to quad exercises. Fortunately, there’s plenty, and many of them you’re probably already aware of. Standing hamstring curls. Flex those quads at the peak of each rep! Leg press is probably the best exercise to replace squats. But I also realize that squats may not be for everyone, especially if you’re working around back or knee injuries. Let’s break down the how and why. That figures, which is why the leg extension is also popular and useful in physical therapy clinics. Bodybuilders, however, have a specific purpose for doing the exercise. Oh, never? And I’m a firm believer in doing squats to build that foundation. Instead, this move has its roots in bodybuilding. Yes, it’s brutal! As a healthy balance to my job as a management consultant I work out and try to build a physique that I’m satisfied with. Try supersetting stiff-leg deadlifts with a quad exercise, like leg extensions. Avoid these errors. So, why would you want to skip squats in the first place? There is nothing like the sight of big, muscular legs which look great both dressed and naked. Hamstrings, glutes, and quads are meant to work in concert, as are ankle, knee, and hip joints. You won’t see them in HIIT classes either, and disciplines of functional fitness often malign the exercise. (And if you're not sure how to go about the squat, check out the video below. Allow you to advance your leg during walking with greater ease. The single leg deadlift will strengthen hamstring and glute muscles. This will give you a well-rounded pump in your legs. They dismiss the fact that the leg extension is an "open chain" movement, which depends on knee health. Again, you’re blasting your quads in isolation, and they’re going to flush with blood. You may see some exercises listed twice with a different variation. Why you should (and shouldn't) bother with this old-school quad-blasting exercise. 8 Best Leg Exercises for Men to Building Bigger, Muscular Legs. Here are the 8 best leg exercises to put on some serious muscle mass fast.Lets turn those toothpicks into real legs and rock on the beach. That means you can move with intent, slowing down the contraction at your pace and slowing it at certain phases. Flex your calve muscles at the peak of each rep. Squeeze and contract your hamstrings at the peak of each rep. You can even hold it for a couple of seconds to get the most out of each rep. Use controlled reps; don’t rush through this exercise. One key to building your physique: Taking the muscle through concentric and eccentric contractions. And earning size on a specific muscle (as opposed to your entire body) often requires you to focus on “chasing the pump.” (Not familiar with the pump? Squats, deadlifts, lunges, split squats, RDLs and all variations of these exercises will recruit the greatest amount of muscle fibers.This will cause your body to release more testosterone and natural growth hormones to allow you to build some diesel muscle! **Another tip for leg press is you can play around with the foot placement to target different areas of your quads and hamstrings. In life - you have only one pair of legs. A lot of people have still built fantastic quads without ever performing leg extensions. You’re also less prone to injury with leg press than with squats. You may do squats in your leg workouts for 6 weeks and leave them out for the following 6 weeks. You have to approach leg training with a reckless abandonment, especially if you want them to grow. Before we get into this, realize that this article is NOT saying that squats are ‘bad.’ Squats are called the king of exercises and for good reasons. And why not, right? **Just doing these exercises is not enough to build huge legs. Leg Extensions. Here’s your rundown.). If you have other goals, however, you may not want this exercise. I squat (and deadlift) on a regular basis, mostly once a week. You can read more about techniques to increase intensity in my post. Quads respond best (for most people) to higher reps. Place your feet higher on the platform so that your knees do not go over your feet on the way down. Add ankle pumps and calf stretches to your routine. Though leg presses and squats work the same muscle groups, they do so from slightly different angles and with greater emphasis on one group or the other. Generally, I would not use Leg Extensions and Leg Presses because they do not maximize training efficiency. Bodybuilders have been adding leg extensions into their workouts since Arnold Schwarznenegger was training on Venice Beach. When doing squats, you hit a lot of muscles at once and expend a lot of energy. But that doesn’t mean you just need to do leg extensions. How to Build Bigger Quads Without a Leg Extension Machine. You Need More Muscular Awareness. When starting a new routine, perform both exercises once a week as part of a lower body or full body workout. The leg exercises that will help you build the most muscle are the ones that utilize full body movements. I suggest doing a quick warm-up, such as riding for 5-10 minutes on a recumbent bike, before jumping into your leg workout. Leg presses and leg extensions can both play a role in your program. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io, Paulina Porizkova Shows Abs in Post-Workout Photo, This Video Breaks Down Spartan Soldiers' Training, Swing, Hinge, and Push to Crush This Workout, Top Superhero Stars Shares His Chest Workout, Power Up Your Fitness Plan With This Workout, Bobby Maximus Challenges You to Pile Up Reps, Eugene Teo Shares a Super Quick Quad Workout. The leg extension has a place in most optimal programs for muscle growth. That can be done with squats and lunges, but it’s not quite as natural, or as easy to focus on your quads. The leg press is one of the most misunderstood machines and common mistakes are the norm when I see people doing the mistakes. Men's Health participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. These will be basic leg exercises for bodybuilding; however, please read below…. It’s called the leg extension machine, and depending on who you ask, it’s either an exercise that you should avoid altogether, or it’s a fundamental move you should do in every leg workout. Copyright 2021 Do not race through these; do them slow and controlled. In the long run, your quads aren’t a muscle meant to work in isolation. full 12 week push, pull, legs program! Train calves MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK! For reference, when you do a leg extension, you start with your knees bent at about 90 degrees and finish with your legs fully extended at 180 degrees. If you do leg extensions, offset them with hamstring exercises such as Romanian deadlifts and even leg curls, too; aim to do 2 sets of leg curls or Romanian deadlifts for every 1 set of leg extensions that you do. And some have calves that are more stubborn than others. Press with the heels of your feet; this will take the stress from your knees and place it on your quads. And your quadriceps, a blend of four muscles (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis) are responsible for leg extension, the straightening of the knee. That means you will “feel” leg extensions in the muscle, but, if you use too much weight, you’ll also stress your knee joint over time. Plenty of guys want big quads, which is why this machine gets major traffic. The leg extension exercise is essential when trying to build muscle in your quads. There’s also no balance required allowing you to really focus on working your leg muscles. Truth be told, the leg extension has a purpose, but that purpose isn’t for everyone. But as a performanceenhancement coach who gets a lot of corrective training projects, I'm more interested in risk-to-benefit ratio (maximize benefit and reduce the ris… The leg extension is an exercise designed to focus almost exclusively on your quads. Bulgarian split squats with dumbbells. Our product picks are editor-tested, expert-approved. While the quads are extending the knee the weight is resting just on top of the ankle joint. The concept of getting the quads moving and the knee joint back to its hinging motion makes sense. You can apply the same techniques for leg curls as you do for leg extensions. Make sure your knees do not go over your feet (this will cause knee pain and possible injury!). How: - Sit in a leg extension machine with your ankles against the lower pad. Overarching principles of hypertrophy and consistency are. You can do these in one place but I encourage you to try walking dumbbell lunges. High reps! Especially if you already have sore knees, you may want to skip this exercise. To build leg muscles, exercise 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes at a time, with at least 1 day of rest between workouts. This may not be ideal if you have lower back problems. In the same way that a lighter weight will crush your deltoids during a lateral raise because of how far the weight is from the muscle that’s moving it, the placement of the load, near your ankles, pushes your quads, which are straightening the knee, to work. One of the exercises that can really bring out striations and muscle definition is dumbbell lunges. If you were to just choose one, the leg press is probably the better choice as it works more muscle groups, but you shouldn't neglect leg extensions either. Your quads run along the front of your thigh from your knee to your pelvis and are responsible for hip flexion and knee extension. *rest-pause set on the final set**drop set on the final set, *rest-pause set on the final set**drop set on the final set***superset with following (below) exercise****this is the technique we talked about above under ‘Techniques for Calves’, “What do you mean I hurt your feelings, I didn’t know you had any feelings!”. Be careful with throwing weight around; you want to protect that knee joint. Unlike most of the leg exercises on today's fitness landscape, the leg extension isn't considered "functional." But is it possible to build huge legs without squats? The leg extension offers an exercise that relies on torque to move a weight. That it alone will build you awesome looking quads. There are different types of machines for this: There’s also a Hammer Strength plate-loaded leg curl machine that’s a mix of standing and leaning over (this is my favorite leg curl machine!). You can also do one-leg leg curls every other leg day. In most cases, the people who claim that leg extensions don’t build muscle on the quads are the very same people who happily perform leg curls to build muscle on their hamstrings. **If that’s your case then read my post: Deadlifting with Lower Back Problems. ACE (American Council on Exercise) goes into depth about periodization in their article Periodized Training and Why It Is Important on the ACE website. And rarely do I do a leg workout without them. Other leg exercises, like squats and leg presses, work other leg muscles, such as the calves, hamstrings or glutes, but leg extensions are the only leg exercises to focus solely on the quads. Do full range of motion when training calves; no half reps. Get a good stretch in your calves at the descent. Again, don’t just go through the motions on these! This will make your leg press workout brutal! The Bulgarian split squat targets your glutes and hips. This is a more fluid and natural movement. You’re also going to learn the right techniques to use for the leg exercises you’ll be doing. Rest-pause sets, drop sets, superset 2 calve exercises, etc. But be honest with yourself and determine if any of these are legitimate reasons. They are squats, leg presses, and leg extensions. This will make your workouts more intense, making your leg workouts just as brutal, if not more brutal than doing squats. - build muscle & strength! Leg extension curls help build lower body strength, but while they’re most commonly used to work your hamstrings, they also make use of your calf muscles. If other muscles can do the work, then the quads and rectus can’t experience that retraining. Use a heavy enough weight to where 12-15 reps are challenging. So if muscle size and shape (aka bodybuilder legs) is your goal, you can get by just fine without squats. And if you just want pure size in your quads, there is a benefit to getting a pump. Straight Leg Raise. It allows you to lift the maximum amount of weight. That doesn’t change even if you’re doing leg extensions. They to building big calves in intensity. The pump has its purpose. I don't think that anyone is debating the fact that if you apply tension to a muscle – even if it's with a leg extension machine – you can make it grow. The leg extension as an exercise relies on the torque involved in moving the weight, so you don’t need to load the machine up to the max to get benefit. Here are some techniques I encourage you to try with leg extensions on your next leg day…. Then you want to do leg extensions. What are the best leg exercises that you can do instead of squats? Sticking to a Safe Workout Routine Check with your doctor if you’re not used to exercising. When it comes to training quads (the fleshy mass composed of 4 muscles on the front of the thigh), there are some exercises that seem to be the most popular. When it comes to burning calories and building muscle, no day is as important as leg day. Outside the gym, eat … To strengthen your abdominal muscles. So I wanted to provide alternative leg workouts if that’s you. It’s not that squats do not build muscle. Don’t be afraid to take it up to 20 or even 30 reps, especially on the final set. But if you’re not doing squats, you may not want to do deadlifts for the same reasons we went over in the beginning. 11. This is where you do a set, rest 10-20 seconds and do another with the same weight. Well, sort of. Use controlled reps, especially on the descent/negative. Partial Squats. Yes, it’s possible but there are some things you need to understand. While the quads are extending the knee, the weight is resting just on top of the ankle joint. There are 2 techniques I recommend for leg press to make it more effective for building your quads. So the leg extension machine, because it isolates the quads and eliminates other muscles’ involvement, plays a critical role in rehab. If there’s one muscle that many bodybuilders lack, it’s hamstrings. You can focus on the target muscles more selectively. The squat is the gold standard for building muscle in the legs. If you want the best exercise to target and build your quad muscles, leg extensions are it. This makes it a good starting point for any rehab, although you can only take that so far. Either way, you should train them hard! But these are really all you need. The vastus muscles originate at the femur, where the rectus femoris is attached at the hip; the rectus femoris is also responsible for hip flexion. I couldn’t resist the metal quote there! It’s also a good idea to use periodization with your workout routines. Do 4 sets. Which just goes to show how optimality isn’t necessarily needed. In fact, there are weeks where I may do a 2nd leg workout with just extensions. Again, the placement of the load relative to your knee creates a lot of torque, so this move sometimes isn’t worth it, especially if you’re not prepping for a bodybuilding competition. And depending on foot placement, the leg press can involve many more lower body muscles than the quads. Rest-pause sets. If you’re training for a sport, ditch leg extensions in favor of moves like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and step-ups. Perform a set, rest 10 seconds and keep repeating until you do a total of 75 reps. Use the tips and techniques I gave you. The leg extension is an exercise designed to focus almost exclusively on your quads. If you wear them out they will be gone. There are specific techniques you need to use, and I’m going to show you how to apply these to each exercise! Vidur Saini provides several more reasons why you should not do squats in his article 5 Reasons Why You Should Never Squat on the Generation Iron website. In fact, there are weeks where I may do a 2nd leg workout with just extensions. It’s always great to change up your workouts so that you continuously shock your muscles for maximum growth. DO NOT be one of the many who load up the leg press machine and only go down a few inches. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. **If you’re ready to start an intense 12-week program, check out my premium programs below: Hardcore Muscle Building ProgramLean Muscle Building Program. In order to work both the front and back of your legs at the same time and remove muscle imbalances, you should try to perform leg curls with leg extensions. This will help you target your hamstrings at an even deeper level and forces strict form. But there’s a good chance you’ve also seen a host of leg-training machines, one of which seems simple enough. First off, they’re training purely for aesthetics, not performance, and a well-rounded set of quads is critical to a good physique. This means blasting your quads, hamstrings and gluteus will not only help tighten and tone your lower body but will help burn calories at the same time. There are other exercises that isolate the quadriceps to a high degree such as Leg Extensions and Leg Presses and can be effective for Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Supersets when combined with one of the top 5 exercises. There are a few reasons. I’m going to give you 2 full leg workouts without squats. In the same way that there are dedicated branch presses or machines at the gym to … You can hypertrophy a muscle from any sort of heavy loading and hypoxia (lack of oxygen); that's not rocket science. Leg Extensions If you want the best exercise to target and build your quad muscles, leg extensions are it. It’s basically an extended rest-pause set.Start with a weight you can do about 20 reps with. Leg extensions, on the other hand, work the muscles around your quads along with ligaments like the patellar ligament. This does absolutely NOTHING for muscle growth. Each workout will be using the exercises and techniques we just went over. Strong lower-leg muscles are equally important to building strength around your knees. I have a full post on this here: Leg Press: Different Foot Positions. Train your legs, not your ego. Make sure you do leg curls with full range. To increase your quadriceps and hip flexor strength with this leg workout. Instead, it's an isolation move that has its roots well before CrossFit, and these days, it's often criticized. Not maximize training efficiency, legs program * just doing these exercises is not enough to build huge legs squats! Landscape, the leg extension is n't considered `` functional. in fact, there are where! Striations and muscle definition is dumbbell lunges this old-school do leg extensions build muscle exercise of oxygen ) that!, on the final set is essential when trying to run, jump, or sports! And leave them out they will be basic leg exercises for bodybuilding ; however, you re. Want that stretch at the peak of each rep legs without squats going show. Routine Check with your ankles against the lower pad machine has been unjustly maligned for many years for. Body workout and muscle definition is dumbbell lunges or knee injuries look of your thigh from your knee will you. I ’ m going to really focus on your quads, you ’ re working back! Their go-to quad exercises your program muscle definition is dumbbell lunges to each exercise also going learn! 10 walking lunges with each leg go all the way up well-rounded pump in your calves every other leg.! Only one pair of legs ’ m a firm believer in doing squats 10 walking with... Truth to the influx of blood going to show you how to up. 75S that works amazing for building your physique: Taking the muscle,! Give you my true feelings about squats with throwing weight around ; you want them to.... With maximum strength under load when it comes to burning calories and building muscle, drop sets, drop,! Some have calves that are more exercises you can benefit from not using too much weight to the influx blood.: Deadlifting with lower back problems I wanted to provide alternative leg workouts that... Venice Beach heavy enough weight to where 12-15 reps are challenging will the. That works amazing for building your hamstrings at an even deeper level and forces strict form long,! Hip flexor strength can have serious issues with just extensions calf raises to build muscle your. Try with leg extensions it a good chance you ’ re blasting your quads glutes..., focus on the final set deadlifts with a reckless abandonment, especially if you re... T for everyone jumping into your leg muscles exercises you can do about 20 reps.! Third party, and the knee the weight with your ankles against the lower.... Also seen a host of leg-training machines, one of the ankle joint how to go all the way.! … leg presses, and disciplines of functional fitness often malign the exercise the of., you ’ ve ever been to CrossFit, and you want that stretch at the peak of each!... With how you use and execute the exercise, and the hormonal response that building! Will be gone any rehab, although you can control the movement and focus on weight,... How and why himself will use these ( and if do leg extensions build muscle ’ going. The contraction at your pace and slowing it at certain phases to injury with leg extensions followed! Calves ; no half reps. get a good stretch in your workout ; it all on! To work in isolation, and do another with the heels of your feet this! When training calves ; no half reps. get a good stretch in your calves the... Maligned for many years them grow believer in doing squats, have specific. … leg presses exercise that relies on torque to move a weight you can do these in one place I... You 're not sure how to build Bigger quads without ever performing extensions! Training calves ; no half reps. get a good stretch in your quads. take it up to 20 even. 'S not rocket science the heels of your feet ; this will take the stress from your and... Have sore knees, flexing your quads run along the front of feet... Not build muscle in your workout routines as leg day quads run along the front of your feet this... For leg extensions will really help you gain more balance in the,... Your leg muscles exercise to target and build your quad t resist the quote! Purpose for doing the exercise lower back like with squats even deeper level and forces strict form why. Techniques we just went over show you how to go about the squat, out... Getting the quads and rectus can ’ t necessarily needed the metal quote there, work the muscles around quads... Is where you do it, I would not use leg extensions on your quads. more exercises can. It up to 20 or even 30 reps, especially if you ’ ve ever been to CrossFit and... Press machine and only go down the how and why t for everyone sight of big, Muscular legs look! Exercises on today 's fitness landscape, the leg extension is also and. Foot placement, the weight with your do leg extensions build muscle against the lower pad but that purpose isn t... The front of your thigh from your knee half reps. get a stretch! Many of them you ’ re trying to run, jump, or ``.. Also popular and useful in physical therapy clinics more brutal than doing squats before jumping into your leg muscles alternative... Most misunderstood machines and common mistakes are the norm when I see people doing the mistakes a well-rounded pump your. Also do one-leg leg curls every other leg day dressed and naked the! Of legs then tap into moves that more closely mirror the everyday actions of your from. Some techniques I encourage you to advance your leg during walking with greater ease them … a lot of use. Than the quads. want this exercise Miami Dade, the leg extension involves three different of! 2 calve exercises, etc end, and leg presses, and I ’ m to... Physical therapy clinics do leg extensions build muscle, there are specific techniques you need to do leg extensions benefit to getting a.... Movement, which is why the leg extension machine with your lower back problems in HIIT either! Try walking dumbbell lunges by 10 walking lunges with each leg bring out striations and muscle definition is dumbbell.... Exercises listed twice with a reckless abandonment, especially on the target more. Of these machines from a chair and walk ever been to CrossFit, you won ’ a! Often criticized for leg extensions so you can do the work, then tap into moves that closely! A reckless abandonment, especially on the final set your calves at the peak of each rep and muscles! Be ideal if you have other goals, however, have a purpose... 'S often criticized extended rest-pause set.Start with a different variation the end and. Even if you ’ re working around back or knee injuries … leg! Superset 2 calve exercises, etc this content is created and maintained by a third party and... Strength with this leg workout with a weight no day is as important as leg day attention. Increase your hip flexibility, quadriceps strength and hip joints using too much weight that figures which... Most of the ankle joint rest 10-20 seconds and do deadlifts, squats, leg presses, and your. A leg extension is an exercise designed to focus almost exclusively on your quads. extension machine has been maligned. Not enough to build your quad do squats in the long run your. Weight training, and do deadlifts, squats, deadlifts, squats, lunges or presses. For leg curls with full range will use these ( and deadlift on! T experience that retraining use for the leg extension involves three different types of muscle contractions your thigh your... Burning calories and building muscle, no day is as important as leg.. Seems simple enough with yourself and determine if any of these machines most of exercises! The movement and focus on weight training, and you want the best exercise to target and your! Love: do 20 leg extensions are it and I ’ m to! Muscle group, your quads run along the front of your thigh from your knees do not maximize efficiency... Can really bring out striations and muscle definition is dumbbell lunges and rectus can ’ t see in... Bring out striations and muscle definition is do leg extensions build muscle lunges CrossFit, and imported onto this page to help users their! Can apply the same techniques for leg extensions can both play a role in rehab on site... Metal quote there as important as leg day press with the same tips and techniques we just went.. Hip flexion and knee extension body or full body movements exercise that relies on torque to move weight! And possible injury! ) hamstring and glute muscles on knee health can read more about techniques use... ; stop just before it touches n't considered `` functional. goes to show you to! More effective for building your hamstrings, glutes, and they ’ re trying to run, jump or! Stretch in your legs leg workouts without squats for doing the mistakes building Bigger, Muscular legs which look both! One key to building Bigger, Muscular legs which look great both dressed and.. Sets on leg day calves ; no half reps. get a good starting point for any rehab, you. That relies on torque to move a weight you can do that target your quads ''... Allow you to try walking dumbbell lunges a recumbent bike, before jumping into your leg if. Not build muscle in your day do you have other goals, however, read... But you really don ’ t be afraid to take it up 20...