Leg Press vs Leg Extension – Where to Place Them in Your Workout

Jeff Baldelli
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Does Size Really Matter?

If you’re able to build two muscular legs, you’ll have a head start on the competition no matter what sport you choose. But which exercises are most effective for getting there? While the run-of-the-mill leg press gets a ton of attention from fitness buffs, the leg extension machine has also gotten some time in the limelight. Which is a better way to train the quad muscles?

When it comes to working your legs, the major muscle group that these exercises target is actually the quads. Both machines work opposing quad muscles, with the leg press focusing on the four muscles in front of the thigh and the leg extension targeting the four behind. Each of these muscles work together to contract and extend the leg.

The leg press is probably the more recognizable of the two exercise machines. It allows you to do both the leg extension and the leg curl at the same time by placing the back of your ankles in the pad and leaning forward. It’s great for working the outer and inner thigh muscle groups.

The leg extension machine is designed to isolate a single muscle group to better target and build individual muscles. The machine has you lie back, extending the legs in front of you while securing the ankles in place.

Specific Muscle Recruitment

Leg extension and leg press involve working the muscles in different ways. The leg extension workout targets the upper leg muscles that are part of the quadriceps. It is a much more isolated movement compared to the leg press.

The leg extension exercise routine will also target the four muscles of the quadriceps to some extent and isolate certain portions of the muscle. This is why this exercise is recommended for sports training that involve sprinting. ”Olympic-style” lifts can help improve the ability to accelerate quickly, and leg presses can help improve the ability to maintain speed.

To maximize leg extension activity, make sure you are seated on the machine in such a manner that places as little weight on your upper body as possible. Put as little weight as possible on the machine without inhibiting your ability to perform the exercise.

In most cases, leg press are better suited for the barbell back squat machine. You will be using more than just the quadriceps on this machine, and you will also work the hamstrings and glutes more in this exercise.

The Execution

The leg press and the leg extension are exercises commonly used to develop the lower and upper leg muscles.

The leg press machine involves pressing the back of your feet against a platform, which is then moved backwards to load the weights. Once the desired weight has been loaded, you push the platform to the beginning position to complete the lift.

Performing this exercise with weights allows you to develop leg muscles. You can use free weights or a leg press machine when doing this exercise.

The leg extension, on the other hand, involves lying sideways on the machine. A padded column extends from the machine to your foot. You are then shown how to place your foot on the column and lower the weight.

The movement is similar to the leg press, which is why the machine is also called an “elevated leg press.”

Both the bull press and the leg extension relieve stress on the knees because pressure is not concentrated on them.

For most people, both exercises are suitable, as long as they do them in moderation.

The leg extension is often done without weight. However, people can also use weights when working on this exercise machine.

The key to performing this exercise is to work on your posture. Your back should be straight and your arms should not support you when you are working out. You should also move slowly and take it easy.

The Bottom Line

The leg press allows greater resistance and is more of a functional lift. It works the most muscle mass of any lower body exercise.

The leg extension is less practical, since it isolates a single muscle. But since it is easier, this exercise is good for developing muscle.

The Compound vs. The Isolation Exercise

A compound exercise is similar to a compound fracture — the whole is more than the sum of its parts. A compound exercise allows you to use the biggest range of motion possible and usually strengthens multiple joints and muscles.

Isolation exercises are more “fractional.” Isolation exercises work a single muscle, typically a smaller range of motion, but to a greater degree of density. Isolation exercises allow you to focus the maximum amount of stress on the target muscles.

Each person’s body is different and each person’s level of fitness is different. Some people should never break off the machine. Others can move into a free weight movement.

Each person’s level of fitness should dictate what exercises are done with heavy weights and low repetitions, or with lighter weights and higher repetitions.

You should also consider the purpose of each exercise.

Squats and lunges help the whole body, while leg extensions and curls work the specific muscles.