Strong legs are essential for living an active lifestyle. Your quad muscles are the largest group of muscles in your body, which means they deserve extra attention. If you’re a gym rat, you likely hit up the plate loaded leg extension machine once or twice. It’s a classic piece of gym equipment that is great for targeting your quads and hamstrings. Below are 7 different exercises you can do with the plate loaded leg extension machine to target your leg muscles for optimal training benefits:
1. Leg Extension
The plate loaded leg extension machine is designed to do, well, leg extensions. It is the most basic exercise you can do on this machine. Start by sitting up straight, holding the handlebars beneath your seat with your feet tucked underneath the padded extension bar. Keeping your butt on the seat, use your quad muscles to raise the bar until your legs are parallel to the floor. Keep the weight light if you are having trouble staying seated during this exercise.
2. Single Leg Extension
The single leg extension works just like the leg extension except that you will be doing a plate loaded leg extension on just one leg at a time. The same form applies as in the previous example. Alternate sets on each leg for the same amount of reps. You’ll have to keep your weight lighter than you would on a double leg extension.
3. Seated Leg Curls
The seated leg curl is another common exercise done with the plate loaded leg extension machine. To do it, adjust the padded extension bar so that you can place your legs over it to press the bar down rather than raising it up. Make sure you adjust it so that your lower calves are touching the bar as you use your hamstring muscles to curl the bar down as far as you can make it go.
4. Seated Single Leg Curls
As in the previous example, the single leg curl works your hamstring muscles. It is performed in the same way as the standard seated leg curl, except you will be working one leg at a time.
5. Standing Single Leg Curls
If you want to keep targeting your hamstrings, carefully stand up and turn around to face your seat. Lean forward and hold on to the top of your seat as you curl the padded extension bar towards your butt one leg at a time.
6. Hip Thrusts
For this move, you will need to slide your butt off the seat until your hips are below the padded extension bar and your feet are flat on the floor. Your back will be resting on the edge of the seat and your arms will be resting on top of the padded extension bar. From here, use your glute muscles to raise the bar as high as you can comfortably go. Lower back to the starting position and repeat.
7. Vertical Leg Press
Grab a mat or pad and place it on the floor in front of your plate loaded leg extension machine. Lie on your back and place your feet side-by-side on the padded extension bar. Use both legs to press the bar away from you to complete a vertical leg press.