leg extension machine
I once had a strength coach describe muscles in a simple way that has stuck with me ever since. He said, "The back is for go, and the front is for show." The "back" being the hamstrings, glutes, calves, triceps, and back muscles, and the "front" being the pecs, quads, and biceps. Now, this may be a slight oversimplification of athletic performance, but there is quite a lot of truth there.
Top 5 Tips for Finding the Best Leg Extension Machine

However, we aren't here to talk about athletic performance, instead, this article is all about the other part of the quote - SHOW - and I'm about to help you put on an Oscar-worthy performance.

Everyone wants big, muscular quads. And if you say you don't you are either lying or planning on wearing sweatpants to the gym year-round. There are many great ways to build strong legs, especially quads - from front squats and lunges to goblet squats.

However, today we are here to discuss the leg extension machine - a machine designed to isolate your quads and give you that sweet but painful pump I know you are chasing.

Before we jump into five tips, let's take a quick look at what a leg extension machine is.


What Is a Leg Extension Machine?

Leg extension machines are commonly found in commercial gyms. These machines feature a seat, a pad for your lower leg, and weight loaded on the side.

To use the leg extension machine, sit in the seat, place your lower legs under the pad and use your quads to extend your knees - raising the pad from under the seat to parallel with your seat. And that's pretty much it - the machine is fairly easy to use.

Typically, you will use the leg extension machine towards the end of your leg day workout as a way to fully fatigue your quads after some bigger compound movements like squats or lunges.

Ok, now that that is covered let's look at The Top 5 Tips for Finding the Best Leg Extension Machine.


1) Commercial or Residential?

Leg Extension Machines

Leg extension machines are typically designed with two buyers in mind. The first is the commercial gym. These machines are large, heavy-duty leg extensions - perfect for the commercial gym.

Think about it - commercial gyms are expecting multiple people to use that machine every day and generally are not dealing with a lack of floor space. These machines are typically more expensive because of their size and durability as well.

The other type of machine is designed for more residential use - think small gym (maybe a hotel) or a home gym. These are still high quality and quite durable, just not as large or commercial grade.

Residential leg extension machines have two big pros going for them - price and size.

Floor space is likely a premium in your home gym and it never hurts to save a buck. For those reasons, the residential model is most likely the best option for your home gym. There are only a couple of rare reasons to consider a commercial leg extension machine. First, space is not an issue for you. Second, you consider the leg extension machine to be a primary piece of equipment in your home gym and don't mind spending a little more.


2) Stand-Alone Machine or Attachment?

Both commercial and residential machines would qualify as stand-alone machines. Walk into any gym or even google "leg extension machine" and you will find primarily stand-alone machines. However, there are a couple of attachment options that you may find fit your needs a little bit better.

First, the leg extension bench attachment. You may have seen one of these at a hotel gym. These are attachments on the end of a bench that allow you to add weight and perform leg curls and extensions. They are typically cheaper, but they will not allow you to add as much weight as a standard machine.

This can be a great option if you are not sold on the idea of purchasing a whole machine and already have a bench.

The second option is a leg extension power rack attachment. This attachment gives you almost all the same functionality of a stand-alone machine - the biggest difference being not having a back pad. Simply attach it to your power rack, load a few 45s, take a seat and begin repping out your extensions.

This is an incredibly space-effective option for your home gym if you already have a power rack.


3) Leg Curl Ability?

I know you are focused on the quad gains, but there is a nice little plus you may not have known you were getting with almost any leg extension machine - the leg curl!

Leg curls are a hamstring killer.

Just like you can't hit triceps and not biceps - you gotta hit your hamstrings, not just your quads. Almost any leg extension machine will come with the capability to perform leg curls, typically it is as easy as just adjusting a few levers.

This is a great addition to your leg extension machine, so be sure your machine has this capability before buying.


4) Plate Loaded or Selectorized?

weight stack

This is primarily a personal preference.

What is a selectorized loaded leg extension machine? Selectorized loading refers to a weight stack. If you've spent any time at a commercial gym, you are probably pretty familiar with this type of weight-loading. It basically is a stack of weights that are built into the machine - simply move the pin to the weight you want and begin your extensions.

The biggest pro with this type of machine is that you don't have to load weight plates or even have weight plates.

rogue weight plates 45lb and 35lb

However, these machines are typically more expensive (a ~ 200-pound weight stack isn't cheap) and quite difficult to move.

The other option is plate loaded. Plate loaded is exactly what it sounds like - simply add weight plates to the machine and begin the movement. If you have plates, this is likely the best option. It will take up less space, cost less, and be easier to move if needed.


5) Where to Find a Leg Extension Machine?

While finding a leg extension machine may be less common than say finding a treadmill or set of dumbbells, you certainly don't have to look too hard to find the leg extension machine of your dreams.

For more information, check out our article for the Top 5 Ways to Find Used Exercise Equipment Near You.

Certainly, the internet can also be a simple way to find a leg extension machine. Use this guide to determine whether a plate loaded or selectorized works better for you or if you prefer a stand-alone machine versus an attachment. Once you determine the best leg extension machine for your home gym, you can find plenty of options with a quick google search.

Be sure to check out our website for all our machines including our leg extension machine!

leg extension machine


Wrap Up

You are all set. I see giant quads in your future. We are here for you in your home gym and fitness journey and can't wait to see you crush your goals!

Don't hesitate to reach out with questions or comments below. We'd love to hear what leg extension machine you decide to go with.

Leg curlLeg curl machineLeg extensionLeg extension machine

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