Tag Thigh

Leg extension

Leg extension


Muscle group:   The leg muscles

Trained muscle:   Thigh front

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Machine exercises


 

Leg extension is an exercise that trains the front of the thigh quite intensely. We either work out on the leg extension machine or on the cable machine. A familiar exercise are the straight leg raises.

Leg extension machine

The exercise on the leg extension machine can already be performed by beginners. Take a seat and adjust the machine to have the rotating axis in one line with your knee joints . Your complete back should sit tightly on the back rest. The resistance cushion should sit on the lower part of your shank right above the ankle joint. Extend your legs in a controlled movement. When you do so the kneecaps should point right up. Neither rotate your legs outward, nor inward to protect your knee joints.

Leg extension on the machine

Leg extension on the machine

 

When we work out leg extensions the thigh backside is not activated, as it would be with squats or leg presses. This causes instabilities of the knee joint what can lead to complaints or injuries if the exercise is not executed properly. The exercise can also be performed one-legged.

Leg extension on the cable machine

Leg extensions on the cable machine should just be practised by advanced and experienced athletes. There are two different ways. We adjust the lowest position of the cable and fixate the cuff around the ankle of the training leg. The standing leg bends slightly. Stabilize your body with both hands on the machine and by tensing your abdominal muscles.

  • From that position we could either raise the training leg in extension. Bring it back to the starting position to complete one repetition. The movement here would be quite similar to the straight leg raises in standing position.
  • Or we raise the thigh to the horizontal line in front of our body (bent hip joint). From here we extend the knee maximally in a controlled movement and bring it back to the starting position.
Leg extension on the cable machine

Leg extension on the cable machine

 

Both versions can be intensified with small movements in the area of highest muscle tension (raised leg in extension).


Antagonist: Thigh backside

Stretching: Front thigh stretches

 

 


Leg press

Leg press


Muscle group:   The leg muscles

Trained muscle:   Thigh front

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Machine exercises


 

Leg press is one of the most effective exercises for the front of the thigh. On a much lower rate some versions work out the back of the thigh, the butt, and the lower back as well.

Leg press

The leg press is performed on the machine or rack. Here, we can find various types that allow us to train different variations. On the leg press machine we usually have the platform for our feet right in front of us. Here, we overcome the resistance on the horizontal line. But the back rest can be adjusted at different angles, so we either exercise sitting or lying. Beginners could already work out on the machine. On the leg press rack the weight moves freely. We usually work on an inclined line pushing it upward. Only advanced and experienced athletes should work out on the rack.

Leg press on the machine

The seated leg press on the machine is the basic version of the exercise. We sit in the machine. Our complete back rests on the cushion. Set your feet with the entire sole shoulder wide on the platform. Your knees pull slightly to the outward to have them in one line with the feet. In the beginning the knee angle should not be below 90°. Experienced athletes of good physical health and with a very clean execution can choose lower angles as long as the lower back remains on the cushion. It is recommended to not work out below 70°. Tense your abdominal muscles and grab the handles on the sides with both hands to stabilize the body. Start to extend and bend your legs alternately. In the end position never extend your leg maximally. The soles of your feet remain on the platform completely during the entire exercise.

Seated leg press

Seated leg press

 

The execution of the horizontal leg press is similar to the seated version. Due to the lying position and the resistance cushions on our shoulders some athletes could feel uncomfortable to their lower back or shoulder. If so, please continue with the seated leg press.

Horizontal leg press

Horizontal leg press

 

Leg press on the rack

Leg presses on the rack also work the same way. Here, we have to be careful with the weights. Once we release the holders the platform moves freely what causes the risk of crushing body parts. Also, be careful with your lower back. Just bend your legs as far as you can keep the complete lower back on the rest. Raising the lower back could cause complaints or injuries.

Incline leg press

Incline leg press

 

Also work out squats.


Antagonist: Thigh backside

Stretching: Front thigh stretches

 

 


Stiff man

Stiff man


Muscle group:   The leg muscles, the butt muscles, the back muscles, complex exercises

Trained muscle:   Thigh backside, butt muscles, lower back muscles

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises


 

Stiff man represents an effective workout for the entire backside of the body. Especially the back thigh, the buttocks, and the lower back will be trained with this exercise.

Stiff man

Performing the stiff man we begin in supine position lying on the floor. Our legs are stretched and closed. We bring the arms to the side pulling them onto the body. We now tense the entire body to become completely stiff. Now smoothly lift up the pelvis from the ground. A few centimetres are enough. Your feet and shoulders press into the floor. You could also practise the stiff man with your feet elevated on a bench, chair, etc. or have a training partner lift you up holding on to your ankles.

The exercise becomes easier in prone position. Bring your arms stretched above your head with the hands on top of each other. Lift your arms from the ground tensing the abdominals and the buttocks. To intensify this variation you could either press with your hands against an insurmountable barrier from below (like the wall bars, a heater, etc.) or have a partner holding on to your hands from above. This variation also involves the muscles of the middle back.


A quite familiar exercise of the stiff man in supine position are the glute bridges.

Antagonist: Rectus abdominis, thigh front

Stretching: Lower back stretches, glute stretches, back thigh stretches

 

Stiff man

Stiff man


Glute bridges

Glute bridges


Muscle group:   The leg muscles, the butt muscles, the back muscles, complex exercises

Trained muscle:   Thigh backside, butt muscles, lower back muscles

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises


 

Glute bridges are a very effective exercise for the muscles of the backside of the upper thigh, the butt, and the lower back.

Glute bridges

Glute bridges most effectively are being performed one-legged. We start in supine position with one leg pulled towards our chest to the maximum to erect our pelvis. Bend the other leg with the heel digging into the floor. The tiptoes pull up and your hands are crossed under your head. Now increase your heel pressure against the floor lifting and lowering your butt. During one set of repetitions your butt doesn’t touch the ground.

Glute bridges variations

Glute bridges become easier by exercising with both legs on the floor. Further lower the intensity by working out on the foot soles instead of the heels. The exercise becomes more intense by working out with larger knee angles and adding more tension by pulling your heel actively towards the butt. Remaining in the area with highest muscle tension (pelvis lifted to the maximum) further intensifies the exercise. In this position also pull the lifted leg maximally to your chest. Glute bridges could also be practised with your legs in an elevated position, like on a bench or similar.

To prevent muscle cramps it is recommended to perform a few repetitions of an easy version of the glute bridges before working out intensely.


A quite familiar exercise of the glute bridges represents the stiff man.

Antagonist: Rectus abdominis, thigh front

Stretching: Lower back stretches, glute stretches, back thigh stretches

 

Glute bridges

Glute bridges

 

Glute bridges variations

Glute bridges variations


Straight leg raises

Straight leg raises


Muscle group:   The leg muscles

Trained muscle:   Thigh front

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises


 

Straight leg raises are a very effective exercise for the straight thigh muscle. The side parts of the thigh muscles are activated on a reduced level performing straight leg raises.

Straight leg raises

Straight leg raises can be performed in a standing or sitting position. If you cannot hold the balance in a standing position make sure to hold on to a chair or similar. Stand straight up and raise one leg to the front. Keep this leg raised and stretched in the knee joint to the maximum. Bent the standing leg slightly. The straight thigh muscle tilts the pelvis. In this exercise it is necessary to work out with a hollow back. It is still recommendable to keep the upper body as straight as possible and the abdominal muscles tensed.

Straight leg raises in a seated position are a little easier to perform since our body remains more stabilized. Sit down with both legs stretched to the front and your back straightened up. Your arms rest behind your back on the floor. The abdominal muscles are tensed. From this position raise one leg from the ground. Make sure to lift and stretch this leg to the maximum.

Both, standing and sitting straight leg raises can be performed with small up and down movements in the area of highest muscle contraction (at maximum elevation). If you would like to further intensify the exercise you could work out with extra weights, such as foot cuffs around your ankle. Please avoid press breathing (exhalation against closed airways).


Antagonist: Thigh backside

Stretching: Front thigh stretches

 

Straight leg raises seated

Straight leg raises seated

 

Straight leg raises standing

Straight leg raises standing