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15 Leg Extension Options (At Residence, Bands, Free Weight)

the 15 best leg extension alternatives

The leg extension machine is a well-liked addition to any common gym-goer’s exercise routine. It’s an effective way to work the massive muscle groups within the entrance of your legs, generally known as the quadriceps. 

I like to include leg extensions towards the top of my exercises. And what actually units them aside is that they’re a single-joint isolation train that may “burn out the quad,” even after a heavy decrease physique exercise.

Nonetheless, leg extensions could be fairly boring (particularly in the event you’ve had them in your program for a number of weeks), and entry to a machine could be restricted. Thankfully, there are equally-as-beneficial leg extension different workouts that may goal related musculature.

Listed here are the 15 greatest leg extension options:

  • Shut Stance Hack Squat
  • Shut Stance Leg Press
  • Cable Leg Extensions
  • Barbell Reverse Lunge
  • Entrance Foot Elevated Bulgarian Break up Squat
  • Platz Squats
  • Dumbbell Bike owner Lunge
  • Dumbbell Goblet Squats with Elevated Heels
  • Step Ups With Dumbbells
  • Dumbbell Leg Extensions
  • Banded Leg Extensions
  • Banded Entrance Squats
  • Sissy Squats
  • Lateral Step Downs
  • Wall Sits

These options embody a wide range of barbell, machine, and body weight leg extension workouts. 

On this article, I’ll break down every train, together with why it could be a greater different over the leg extension, how you can do it correctly, and a few tricks to get probably the most out of it.

What Makes A Good Leg Extension Different?

An excellent machine leg extension different will accomplish one of many following:

  1. Goal related muscle teams as labored within the leg extension.
  2. Prioritize the quadricep femoris muscle group as a lot as potential.

Let’s look into these components a bit additional.

Muscle groups Used In The Leg Extension:

the muscles used in the leg extension

The muscle groups used within the leg extension are:

  • Vastus lateralis
  • Vastus Intermedius
  • Rectus Femoris
  • Vastus Medialis

The leg extension train isolates the motion of knee extension, which successfully targets all 4 elements of the quadriceps muscle groups.

Takeaway: An excellent leg extension different will predominantly goal the muscle groups of the quadriceps, limiting using different decrease physique muscle groups just like the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Quadricep Prioritization

The quadricep muscle group consists of the 4 massive muscle groups on the entrance of the thigh bone. The quads play a key function in knee extension and are particularly used throughout main actions like working, squatting, and leaping.

Whereas the quads are a major mover for these main actions, the quads are additionally engaged alongside different muscle teams as nicely. So in case your purpose is to prioritize the quads much like the leg extension, then hold studying for some small modifications, you may make to prioritize quadricep involvement!

Takeaway: Whereas a substitute for the leg extension machine may not be capable of isolate the quads to the identical diploma, prioritize workouts that you just really feel ‘burning’ your quads.

Associated Article: Leg Extension vs Leg Curl: Variations, Execs, Cons.

Leg Extension Options with Gear

1. Shut Stance Hack Squat

The shut stance hack squat will increase the vary of movement of the squat whereas emphasizing focusing on the quads. Not solely does this make the shut stance hack squat an incredible leg extension different, however it additionally makes it nice for constructing mobility and power within the squatting place. Constructing power & mobility undoubtedly reduces the chance of knee damage!

How To Do It

  • Set the machine top to unrack upon standing up.
  • Have toes be shut along with toes pointed outward.
  • Sit again till you will have reached the specified depth of the squat motion.
  • Keep correct rigidity within the glutes, hamstrings, and quads
  • Then stand again up with the burden in your shoulders.

Professional Tip

As with many different workouts, you’ll be able to put on sneakers with an elevated heel to prioritize the quads. Elevating the heels will lower the vary of movement of the hip, whereas rising the vary of movement and demand of the knee.

In flip, this can recruit the knee extensors/knee flexors (quads/hamstrings) over the muscle groups, whereas putting much less of an emphasis on the muscle groups of the hips. 

2. Shut Stance Leg Press

Whereas the common leg press targets the quads and glutes, we are able to deliver our stance in to prioritize the quads to a larger diploma. This modification makes the shut stance leg press a superb leg extension substitute.

Completely different leg press foot placement can activate the hips, quads, and glutes in several capacities. Whereas a decrease and narrower stance can goal the quads, a wider and better stance can goal the glutes and hamstrings rather more.

Further quad activation could be achieved by using the inner cue of pushing by the toes.On that observe, listed below are a number of different choices for workouts that take the glutes out and focus totally on the quads and hamstrings 9 Finest Leg Exercises That Don’t Use Glutes

How To Do It

  • Set the again pad up so that you’re snug.
  • Place toes decrease on the platform and about hip width aside or nearer than your common stance.
  • Push towards the platform till your legs are fully prolonged.
  • Drive the knees again and cease simply wanting touching the chest.
  • Push by your midfoot to deliver the legs again into full extension.

Professional Tip

Single-leg leg press could be an extra modification that may be made to this train to enhance power and growth of every particular person leg. 

Whereas the shut stance leg press locations an emphasis on the quads, the only leg locations additional stress on the person quad, making the leg press tougher.

A superset can between the single-leg leg press and two leg press like so:

  • A. Shut Stance Leg Press: 1 x 10
  • B. Single-Leg Leg Press: 1 x 10 all sides

Implementing this kind of protocol will help obtain larger muscular fatigue and strengthening of the muscle groups of the quads.

3. Cable Leg Extensions

Whereas seated on a field or standing, cable leg extensions isolate and goal the quads and are most much like leg extensions, which make it an incredible different to the normal leg extension.

How To Do It

  • Strap an ankle cuff that’s tethered to the cable stack machine.
  • Stand or be seated going through away from the cable stack.
  • Kick till the knee is totally prolonged.
  • From there, deliver the leg again to 90 levels of flexion.

Professional Tip

When affected by a knee or hip damage, the leg extension is usually a useful train to implement into your program. Restoring vary of movement and bettering quad flexibility by using a cable leg extension promotes the rehabilitative strategy of any kind of knee damage.

Associated Article 9 Finest Leg Workouts That Don’t Use Glutes.

Leg Extension Options with Barbells

4. Barbell Reverse Lunge

A barbell reverse lunge locations a superb barbell leg extension different by putting larger emphasis on fixed rigidity within the muscle groups of the quads.

The barbell reverse lunge could be loaded by plate and bar to a a lot larger diploma than different variations. Nonetheless, in case your purpose is to protect power for both Olympic or powerlifting actions, I’ll point out much less fatiguing choices that you’ve got at your disposal instead.

Reverse lunges have nice versatility by having the ability to load this motion in some ways, much less fatiguing choices which you could implement are with both dumbbells, a medication ball, bands, or a cable machine. 

You may significantly enhance the loading of this train with any of the tools at your disposal.

How To Do It

  • Push the burden of the barbell into your again to construct rigidity within the higher again and lats.
  • Get up with the burden of the bar in your again.
  • Take three steps again till you will have sufficient room to do the train.
  • Rigorously take a giant step again right into a lunge.
  • Sit again along with your hips, whereas bending the entrance knee till the thigh is parallel to the ground, and the again heel is coming off the ground and the knee is bent 90 levels.
  • From this place, return to standing with the again foot.
  • Alternate legs, and step again with the foot that wasn’t used within the preliminary rep.

Professional Tip

Whereas there are various lunge choices, this could be your greatest guess for focusing on the quads extra. 

The entrance foot elevated bulgarian cut up squat is an effective barbell leg extension substitute by rising the vary of movement of the motion and immediately focusing on the muscle groups of the quads.

Unilateral (single-sided) actions are a elementary a part of a well-balanced program. One of many biggest equipment, the bulgarian cut up squat, targets the glutes and quads of a single facet. 

By modifying the bulgarian cut up squat with the entrance foot elevation, one is ready to successfully obtain larger quad activation, whereas rising hip and knee stability.

How To Do It

  • Elevate the entrance leg on a 2’’ field or plate, whereas resting the again foot on a bench.
  • Provoke with the hips sitting again till the entrance thigh is under parallel to the bottom.
  • Let your knees naturally journey over your 2nd and third toe as you descend into the squat.
  • Drive your entrance foot into the bottom till the hips and entrance knee are fully prolonged.

Professional Tip

This train could be executed with dumbbells, a barbell, or physique weight. You’ll obtain a distinct stimulus relying on the place the load is positioned.

In the event you maintain a dumbbell apart the leg that’s squatting, you’ll be able to obtain larger quad activation.

In the event you maintain the dumbbell up as if doing a goblet cut up squat, you’ll be able to problem the core stabilizers to a larger diploma.

Moreover, suppose you provoke with the hips whereas conserving vertical shins. In that case, you’ll goal the glutes and hamstrings to a larger diploma whereas specializing in ahead knee translation by sitting extra upright will obtain larger quad activation.

Associated Article: Leg Workouts That Don’t Use Hamstrings

6. Platz Squats

The platz squat will enable for larger ahead knee translation to take focus away from adductors and the hips to advertise larger quad activation, making this train a superb barbell leg extension different.

How To Do It

  • Get beneath the bar with each toes immediately beneath it.
  • Construct rigidity by driving your higher traps into the bar while breaking the bar over your again.
  • Get up with the bar by extending the hips.
  • Take one step immediately behind you then take two extra steps to get into place.
  • For this train, your toes will probably be proper subsequent to one another whereas the heels are elevated by plates.
  • Provoke with the hips by sitting again till thighs are at or under parallel with the bottom.
  • Full the repetition by driving by your heels, and exploding by your hips.

Professional Tip

Whereas the platz squats are an incredible train for quad growth, greater advantages could be achieved by programming excessive quantity units and repetitions.

Right here’s an instance program of Platz squats:

  • Week 2: 4 x 10 @52.5-62.5%

Leg Extension Options With Dumbbells

7. Dumbbell Bike owner Lunge

The dumbbell bike owner lunge permits for larger ahead knee translation to focus on the quads extra which makes it an incredible leg extension different.

In contrast to a typical lunge, the bike owner lunge has a a lot nearer base of help, to permit larger emphasis on knee extensors (quads). 

This train could be regressed to physique weight or utilizing a medication ball, whereas having the ability to progress to a barbell or smith machine.

How To Do It

  • Step ahead right into a staggered stance that’s a lot nearer than a typical lunge.
  • With palms going through in, let every arm grasp with a dumbbell in every hand.
  • Sit again till the thigh of the entrance leg is at or under parallel to the bottom, whereas the again knee is bent 90 levels and the heel is coming off the bottom.
  • From this place, stand again up into the beginning place till the hips and knees are prolonged.
  • Alternate toes and repeat all prior steps.

Professional Tip

Particular cues can significantly improve the quad activation of any train. By specializing in the ahead knee translation of this motion (bending the knee ahead extra), you’ll be able to enhance the diploma wherein the quads are activated.

8. Dumbbell Goblet Squats with Elevated Heels

Whilst you may not be capable of do a barbell squat or have entry to full fitness center tools, a dumbbell goblet squat with elevated heels could be executed in additional places and is modified to focus on the quads, which makes it an incredible at house or lodge leg extension different.

How To Do It

  • Put on heeled sneakers or elevate your heels on 5 lbs plates.
  • Maintain both a kettlebell or a dumbbell within the heels of your palms.
  • Provoke with the hips and sit again till thighs are at/or under parallel to the bottom.
  • Attempt to not let the burden drop or chest cave in the course of the rep.
  • Get up till your hips and knees are fully prolonged.

Professional Tip

Including a pause or tempo could make this train more practical in constructing measurement within the quads. In case you are a powerlifter or Olympic lifter, tempos may also promote larger management which might have good carry-over to rising squat means.

Listed here are some examples of how you would program the bike owner lunge:

  • 3 Second Tempo Bike owner Lunge: 3 x 8 @60-70%
  • 2 Second Pause Bike owner Lunge: 3 x 5 @65-75%

In the event you want extra home-based modifications, listed below are the ten greatest options in the event you don’t have a hyperextension machine 10 Finest Hyperextension Options

9. Step Ups With Dumbbells

Field step ups are good for constructing knee and hip stability, whereas strengthening the quads which make it a superb therapeutic leg extension substitute.

How To Do It

  • Maintain your head up, whereas sustaining a impartial backbone.
  • Make sure the field top is slightly below the knee.
  • Stand in entrance of the field, along with your palms holding dumbbells at your facet.
  • Place your foot on the field.
  • Drive your self ahead onto the field, whereas driving the alternative knee up.

Professional Tip

A better step up will produce larger rigidity on the highest of the thigh (hip flexors) and the quads. This modification can enhance knee and hip stability and mobility whereas difficult you to step greater up.

Nonetheless, in the event you select to extend the peak of the field, I’d advocate using lighter hundreds. This fashion, you’ll be able to give attention to motion high quality, quad activation, and efficient repetitions. 

Associated Article: Step Ups vs Squats: Variations, Execs, Cons

10. Dumbbell Leg Extensions

Though it is a leg extension variation, it’s fairly totally different from its machine counterpart. You are able to do dumbbell leg extensions wherever with solely a dumbbell, which makes this a superb on-the-road or at-home leg extension substitute.

How To Do It

  • For this train, you’ll be seated on a bench or a secure floor.
  • Squeeze a dumbbell simply above each your ankles.
  • Proceed to increase each your legs out till the knee is totally prolonged.
  • Management the burden again into the beginning place.

Professional Tip

Since you might be utilizing dumbbells for this train, you received’t be capable of load it up as a machine. To get probably the most out of this train, choose three totally different weight dumbbells to do drop units from

By doing a set of 10 at a heavier load after which sequentially dropping all the way down to lighter hundreds, you may get probably the most out of the restrictions of the tools.

Leg Extension Options With Bands

11. Banded Leg Extensions

This variation could be good for greater rep units to construct muscular endurance, whereas being a superb on the street and at house leg extension substitute.

Dissimilar to the machine leg extension and the dumbbell leg extension, the banded leg extension supplies elastic rigidity and a rise in resistance all through the arc of the train

How To Do It

  • Set a band to an anchor level simply behind you.
  • This train could be executed both seated or standing with the band round your ankle.
  • In case you are seated be certain that there may be clearance beneath you so that you’ve got freedom to kick into extension.
  • Keep the main focus of the motion on the knee by kicking out the foot into full extension of the knee.
  • Then return to the beginning place with the knee bent at 90 levels. 

Professional Tip

You can do a superset between the banded and weighted resistance when you have each a dumbbell and a resistance band. It will, in flip, improve the overall quantity of reps and muscular fatigue of the quads.

If not, one other strategy to construct the legs can be to superset them with a banded leg curl. This fashion, you’ll be able to successfully goal each the muscle groups at the back of the leg (hamstrings) and the muscle groups within the entrance (quads) inside a single circuit.

If you would like extra leg curl options, you’ll be able to learn our full article. 

12. Banded Entrance Squats

Banded entrance squats require solely a band and could be executed wherever, making this an incredible at house/on the street leg extension different.

By putting the band atop the entrance of the shoulders and higher chest, we’re putting the first load within the entrance (anterior chain) of the physique, which would require a extra upright posture and ahead knee translation. 

It will place a larger demand on the quads and problem your hip flexibility alongside along with your ankle mobility. 

How To Do It

  • Place the band throughout the higher chest entrance of your shoulder, whereas standing over the band as nicely.
  • Provoke with the hips by sitting again and permitting knees to journey over the 2nd and third toe.
  • Sit again till your higher thighs are at or under parallel with the bottom. 
  • Stand again up till your knees and hips are fully prolonged.
  • Repeat earlier steps for the next repetitions.

Professional Tip

For extra of a problem, you’ll be able to maintain a dumbbell between the palms of your palms along with the banded variation for elevated loading.

Moreover, to focus on your quads much more you’ll be able to put on a heeled shoe or elevate your heels with a 5 lb plate. 

Leg Extension Options At-Residence, Body weight, or With out Gear

13. Sissy Squats

By putting an incredible demand on the quads, the sissy squats are one of the crucial underrated leg extension options.

This train begins with simply physique weight however could be progressed to a dumbbell, barbell, and security squat bar variation.

How To Do It

  • Begin standing upright, with a inflexible torso by pulling your traps down with the shoulders down and again, and toes stating with toes shoulder width aside.
  • Provoke by bending the knees ahead whereas letting the heels increase up.
  • End the repetition by extending the knees returning to the beginning place in a managed vogue.

Professional Tip

Attempt to add a tempo and a pause to this train to extend the burn and fatigue that’s positioned on the quads.

In case you are struggling to do that train correctly, then the addition of a band will help information you from begin to end and promote motion high quality and larger repetitions.

14. Lateral Step Downs

Lateral step downs require quite a lot of consideration and give attention to strengthening the quads, which makes it an incredible leg extension different.

How To Do It

  • Stand on the sting of a field, with one foot on the field, and one foot off the facet.
  • Sit again and provoke with the hips, till the heel off the sting of the field touches the ground.
  • On the backside, prolong the leg that’s on the field till the leg is totally prolonged.

Professional Tip

You may both get the hamstrings/hips concerned extra by specializing in the sitting again of this motion, or the quads by specializing in ahead knee translation whereas squatting down.

Associated Article: 7 Finest Leg Workouts That Don’t Use Ankles

15. Wall Sits

Whereas this train is primarily a core exercise, there’s a robust part of quad stabilization which makes it an incredible at house/on the street leg extension different.

How To Do It

  • Put your full again and hips on the wall.
  • Sit right into a squat, you’ll be able to improve the depth to the purpose the place the thighs are parallel to the bottom, or greater if it’s too difficult.
  • Maintain the squatting place for an period of time that’s difficult.

Professional Tip

To additional progress this train you’ll be able to maintain a plate out in entrance of you want a steering wheel. It will get the core stabilizers concerned to a larger diploma whereas focusing on the quads as nicely.

Why Ought to You Substitute the Leg Extension Machine?

This primarily boils all the way down to the tools you will have entry to, your targets, and your damage historical past. 

First, many individuals understanding at house or in small boutique gyms might not have entry to a leg extension machine. 

Other than tools availability, your targets may not align with hammering the leg extension. It’s an effective way to develop your quadriceps, however if you wish to develop full-body coordination and performance as a unit, the leg extension machine may not be what you’re in search of.

Lastly, when you have a historical past of knee accidents, the leg extension machine may not be for you. Particularly when you have ACL or patellofemoral ache, discovering a leg extension different is essential to decreasing the chance of re-injury and to train your quadriceps extra functionally. 

Associated Article: The Finest Leg Curl Options

Different Decrease Physique Train Options

Take a look at our different articles that debate options to standard decrease physique workouts: 

Ultimate Ideas

The leg extension machine works the quadricep muscle groups the best of every other single leg train. Nonetheless, your fitness center may not have a leg extension machine, and the leg extension can’t be loaded to the identical diploma as compound workouts like Bulgarian cut up squats or a leg press. 

So, relying on the tools you’ll be able to entry, every banded, barbell, cable, machine, and at-home train could be efficient as leg extension alternate workouts to your exercise routine.  

I like to recommend making an attempt every of those leg extension alternates and seeing which feels most stimulating to your quadriceps muscle. This would be the leg train for you that’s most much like the leg extension machine! 



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