How to Use the Leg Extension Machine

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

This is my favorite machine. Two sets of 20 really make my arthritis in my hips feel better. If my knees start to hurt a little just grasp the top of the knee cap as you do the press and the pain is gone. just lightly hold it. Report
I didn't adjust any of the machines. I had someone else do it Report
I do use this when I go to the gym. Report
Love this machine Report
The best way to use this machine is to walk right past it and do your squats, lunges and kick backs. Report
Good article. Report
great article Report
thanks. Report
I started going to the gym not long ago as PCP thought it would benefit me. I have learned to use the leg extentions at first I thought I was doing them wrong as the bar was setting on my leg above my ankles. It's nice to know I'm doing ok! Report
Loved this. Report
I use this one a lot when at the gym. Not every time I go but a lot. Love it! Report
I am confused. Use or don't use the leg extension machine ? Report
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. Report

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.