leg extension machine

The Best Leg Extension Machine of 2020

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You’ve heard the advice plenty of times before: never skip leg day. After all, engaging your legs promotes healthy nerve cells. 

Building strong knees, quads, and glutes are necessary to increase your natural speed, balance, and coordination. 

To maximize your effectiveness at the gym, you need to build your lower body strength. There is really no way to effectively get around it. But how to get a good lower body workout at home can be challenging. You need a good leg lift machine. 

In this list, I will reveal ten of the best machines for leg curls and extensions that you can get for your home gym.

The Best Leg Extension Machine 

1. Valor Fitness CC-4 Adjustable Leg Curl / Extension Machine

Valor Fitness CC-4

Crafted from solid steel and double-layered vinyl padding, this Valor Fitness machine is strong enough to endure as much as 200 lbs for leg extension. You can adjust the back support in six different positions or the thigh support in eight different seated leg positions. 


And with the ability to remove the steel peg from the frame you can modify this machine to perform leg curls. You can use this machine with either Olympic Sized or Standard weight plates. 

PROS

  • Adjustable thigh support for maximum performance.
  • The Sundial adjuster can be used to change the range of motion to suit any body type.
  • Includes an adapter sleeve to convert plate posts.

CONS

  • Difficult to assemble.
  • Little tension until you are 3 to 4 inches into the leg curl.
  • The seat could be more sturdy. 

2. Body-Solid Cam Series Leg Extension and Curl Machine

Body-Solid Cam Series Leg Extension and Curl Machine

With this leg extension and curl machine, you can perform leg curls from a seated position. Coming with a 7-gauge steel cam, users of all sizes can use this machine. During intense lifting, the DuraFirm padding provides durability and comfort. This machine also comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can use it with confidence.

PROS

  • Pop-pin design for hamstring and quad isolation.
  • Adjustable cam for users of all sizes
  • Designed for quick leg extensions and curls

CONS

  • Not simple to assemble.
  • No way to adjust the height of the seat or length of the extension bar.
  • The post only holds 4.45 lbs total.

3. Marcy Adjustable 6 Position Unity Bench Leg Extension Machine

Marcy Adjustable 6 Position Unity Bench Leg Extension Machine

Thanks to the dual positions of this bench’s leg developer, you can use this high quality machine to also train your upper body. You can move the secure sawtooth back into a flat, incline, or declined position. 


For your comfort, the bench comes with high-density foam padding, as well as vinyl-covered roller-pads. With handles at the top and wheels at the base, you can easily transport this bench where you would like it in your home gym.


This bench is versatile, with an adjustable back pad allowing for six different seated leg positions. The top-grade high-density foam padding provides comfort, while its steel frame provides durability and resiliency.

PROS

  • Works your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
  • The bench can be adjusted from flat to inclined.
  • Seat angle adjustments help you target certain muscle groups.

CONS

  • If you are taller than 6.1”, you might not match bench dimensions.
  • Narrow front support can make the bench wobbly.

4. Marcy Olympic Weight Bench

Marcy Olympic Weight Bench

The Marcy Olympic Weight Bench is an extremely versatile leg extension machine, with a backrest adjustable into the military, incline, flat, and decline positions. This bench is also compatible with most 6’ and 7’ weight bars. 


The dual-action foam rollers can be used for both leg extensions and curls, and many other important accessories are included. There is also enhanced security with this bench with a no-pinch design and built-in safety hooks.

PROS

  • An adjustable weight rack accommodates as a bench press and squat rack.
  • 7-position adjustable backrest.
  • Oversized foam pads for safety and comfort.

CONS

  • Can only be used for close grip bench presses.
  • Can be difficult for some to assemble.

5. Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine

Body-Solid GLPH1100

This Body-Solid Machine doesn’t do leg extensions, but because it works for similar muscle groups, I decided to include it. To distribute weight evenly, this machine comes with a Quad Track roller system. 


The gauge diamond plate foot platforms work for both hack squat positions and seated leg presses. It has an under-carriage plate-load system for easy access. And the extra heavy-duty mainframe minimizes the possibility of torsional flex so you don’t injure yourself when working out. 

PROS

  • Works quads, glutes, and calves without damaging your joints.
  • Three lockout positions provide additional safety.

CONS

  • Narrow footplate.
  • Pin can be difficult to reach when adjusting from hack squat to leg press.

Leg Extension Machine Buying Guide

Comfort

It’s important that you can use your leg extension machine without promoting pain or discomfort. To provide comfort, items such as soft seating and bench surfaces, ankle pads, and pivot points might help. When using your leg extension machine, remember to align your knees with the pivot points according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember that over time, misaligned knees can cause discomfort and pain over time.

Because it can be annoying to have to get up every time to adjust weights between regression or progressive sets, it is advised that a leg extension machine with a weight stack will be more beneficial. Using these kinds of machines, weight adjustments should go smoothly. 

Overall Fit

To consider the overall fit of a leg extension machine, it is important to evaluate a number of different features. Stability handles, backrest, bench surface, and ankle pads, should all be taken into account

Adjustable ankle pads are going to be worth considering because they are not one-size-fits-all. Most manufacturers are aware of this. A properly adjusted ankle pad can make the difference between a great workout and an unbearable one. 

When assessing the bench surfaces, you’ll want to make sure it is double-stitched, adjustable, and well-padded. While motion arms are not always available on every model, you should be able to lock it in place without excess pressure. Stability handles are always helpful for isolating leg muscles while keeping your back still. 

Motion Control

As with any exercise, motion control is vital. It is especially important when exercising your legs. You’ll want the muscles that face heavy use to be called into action. Remember that back injury can result from recruiting lower back muscles into the movement. 

An adjustable backrest, adjustable ankle pads, and side handles are all important for adding extra control to your leg curl machine. When these tools are used properly, they isolate the appropriate muscles during exercise. You also want to make sure your knees are in the appropriate position as well. 

You will reduce the risk of injury by using motion control features as they were designed. So always make sure you know the proper way to put your equipment to use before using it.

Adjustability

Exercise machines should adapt to the needs of the user. Some leg extension machines have multiple adjustable features. Among them, the backrest is probably the most critical. Some seated leg extension machines have gas assist. The more adjustable positions a backrest has, the better it will serve your needs. If the model in question is a commercial leg extension machine, a customizable backrest is especially important.

Usually, the manufacturer of the seated leg extension machine will provide directions on how to adjust the components with either pictures or written instructions. There is a certain angle you will want to use for lifting safely. 

Ankle rollers can also be adjusted either with a pin or automatically. Ideally, you should have them resting against your ankles and they should never be close to your knees. 

Ease of Use

Most of the resistance you experience should be in the lifting, not with the equipment itself. If you get a leg extension machine that is too difficult to use regularly, it not likely you will see the results you want. 

One thing that can add to the ease of use is how effortlessly you can shift from a leg curl to a leg extension. 

Positioning yourself Safely

Though most seated leg extension machines come with different kinds of safeguards to protect against injury, it doesn’t mean it will never happen. You owe it yourself to make sure that that you are positioned correctly and you aren’t going to hurt yourself. 

To start, use a low weight. You might even try starting without any weight at all, just so you can practice maintaining proper form. You should do the same when lying down on the bench. Just because you’re capable of lifting a lot of weight doesn’t mean that you should. 

When in proper form, your back should be flat against the seat. If leg pads are provided, they should be set against your shins. Ankles, knees, and hips should all be at 90-degree angles. 

When performing the exercise, you should push up your legs so they are as straight as possible. If you hold the rep, you can make sure your muscles are doing the work and not just momentum. This should provide the most benefit. 

Lifting Heavy

While it might seem like a fun challenge, but lifting as much as you possibly can is not a recommended practice when it comes to leg extensions. Why? Lifting a lot of weight can strain your ligaments. 

As leg extensions are not a functional exercise in the same way a squat is. In your daily life, it is not likely that you’ll need to lift weights with your knees and ankles. So, you should go easy on the reps when doing leg extensions. That way you can avoid injury and downtime in the future. 

Other Factors

Materials

To add durability and life to your machine, the kind materials used in its creation make all the difference. 

When selecting a leg extension machine, we recommend looking for Durafirm padding with double stitching. As time goes on, and your sweat gets on the covering, the stitching and the quality of the material can prevent moisture damage. 

Also, when cleaning the materials used on the machine, make sure that it is compatible. For example, always check before cleaning the seat, bench, backrest, lifting arm, and ankle pads. Using the wrong cleaning chemicals can damage the materials. 

Capacity

When we talk about capacity, we are referring to how much weight a leg extension machine can handle. To calculate, we combine the user weight with the maximum resistance.

For most users, a weight capacity of 200 to 300 pounds will be enough. Too much weight on the weight resistance machine could lead to injury, so you shouldn’t need so much more than that.

The machines with weight stacks that you adjust with a key or pin tend to have a lower overall weight capacity than those on which you can load universal plates. Just to remind you again, you don’t need a tremendous amount of weight for these machines. 

Additional Tips and Tricks

How much does the sled on the leg lift machine weigh?

The sled on a leg press machine typically weighs about 70lbs (31 kgs).

Is there a leg lift machine for abs?

Hanging leg lift machines are suitable for building your abs, such as the XMark Fitness Vertical Knee Raise and Push Up Station. 

What is the leg lift machine with the bar to stand on called?

It is called the dip or leg raise machine. See the above example for details.

What does leg extension work?

Leg extensions work the muscles at your front anterior or your quadriceps.

Is leg extension bad for knees?

It really depends on you. There is no universal answer to this question, as it always depends on the person in question. 

What does leg curl machine work?

A leg curl machine works the back or the posterior of the leg, or the hamstrings.

Don’t all machines cause injury over time?

Poor form, overuse, and too much weight are the real dangers of various kinds of fitness equipment. That said, there are steps you can take to prevent injury by being aware of the risks. Always look for guidance on new weight machines before using them. If you’re really concerned about injuring, hiring a trainer to spot your posture is a good idea. 

How many reps and sets should I do on a leg extension machine?

You shouldn’t do more than 12 reps when using a moderate amount of weight. You don’t need to do endurance sets with high reps on a leg extension machine.

How often should I work my legs?

You should be hitting the weights at least three times a week. Research shows that training a minimum of two days per week is required to maximize muscle growth.

How will leg extensions benefit me? 

Leg extensions are beneficial for strengthening the patellar ligament and quadriceps attachment of the knee. This is great for targeted muscles more selectively. It can be done as an isolation exercise and performed after compound exercises like squats or deadlifts. 

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