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Dear Fitness Fanatics
I generally use the leg extension as a supplement to closed chain movements, as it elicits different recruitment patterns of the quad muscles. Studies show it to be particularly effective in targeting the rectus femoris. If nothing else, variety helps to facilitate more complete quadriceps activation and thus better muscular development. This is particularly beneficial for those whose goal is muscle hypertrophy (bodybuilders, general fitness enthusiasts).Like myself
There has been some interesting research about altering foot position during the leg extension to elicit greater activation of selected quadriceps muscles. Specifically, medial rotation (i.e. turning the legs inward) causes a greater activation of the vastus muscles (i.e. vastus lateralis and medialis) while external rotation (i.e. turning the legs outward) produces greater activation of the rectus femoris. While this seems cool on the surface, the practical benefit is questionable. In my view, altering leg position can cause the knee to track improperly and thus potentially increase the potential for injury. I personally feel it’s not a good risk/reward ratio. My general suggestion to my clients is to keep the legs in neutral position for optimal safety.
TAKE HOME POINTS
– If you currently have an exsisting knee problem, the leg extension exercise may not be the best option for you unless otherwise recommended by a medical professional.
– If you’re goal is to increase the muscle mass of your Quadriceps, the leg extension offers benefits that other exercises may not.
– The Leg extension exercise can be part of a comprehensive muscle building / bodybuilding workout program without any negative effects to your knees
– Athletes may still benefit from performing leg extension due to the strength carryover into real life movements.
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