Best Leg Extension Machines for Value, Leg Curls, and More

Experience a thigh-busting quad pump with one of our favorite leg extension machines on the market.

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If you’ve got a monstrous set of quads or toned and defined legs, that’s usually a sign of athletic prowess and lower body power. Building your legs can be quite difficult though, and it requires hard work and dedication. Having a leg extension machine can make things much easier because it can help isolate the quad muscles. Working the quads directly can potentially help you gain better mind-muscle connection, as well as better pumps

With so many different options on the market, it’s tough to cut through the noise and find the right leg extension machine to fit your needs. The options are daunting — selectorized or plate-loaded, bench with leg developer or a dedicated machine, and so on. It can be more confusing than picking the right protein powder or squat rack. Luckily, we’ve done the leg work there, so you can start the real leg work more quickly. We’ve selected the best leg extension machines for a variety of needs to cover a wide range of situations. If you’re ready to become a quadzilla, read on to discover which leg extension machine may be your perfect match.

Best Leg Extension Machines

Best Leg Extension Machine Overall

Leg extension machines are extremely popular pieces of equipment, but they can be quite pricey. Some are worth it though because of their high quality, materials, and attention to detail. That’s just what we expect from our top pick overall. Whether you’re buying one to outfit your garage or basement gym, or shopping for a commercial leg extension machine, the Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine is a great option.

Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine

Cybex has been in the fitness equipment industry for over 50 years and the Cybex Ion Leg Extension Machine is likely the machine that would pop into most people’s heads if asked to picture an image of a leg extension machine. It comes in three color combo options — a black frame with black upholstery, a titanium frame with black upholstery, or a charcoal frame with black upholstery.

This machine is sturdy and made from 11-gauge steel, which Cybex backs up with a 10-year structural warranty. To adjust the seat and back pad, simply use the single-pin adjuster to move them both simultaneously. The roller pads have four different positions to accommodate those with longer or shorter tibia lengths. You’ll even have hand grips to squeeze when you’re on your fifth set, and you can barely take the burn anymore. 

All put together, the Cybex Ion Leg Extension Machine weighs 450 pounds. To turn those Bambi legs into Hulk tree trunks, you’ll have 202.5 pounds of weight to work up to in seven-and-a-half pound increments. Not only can you do leg extensions to focus on your quads, but this machine doubles as a seated leg curl machine too, requiring virtually no transition time. Simply pull the pop-pin, and lay the backrest flat then you’re ready to go.

It has a low profile, which makes it great for home gyms as it measures only 63 inches long by 40 inches wide and 53 inches tall. Our only real complaint is the max user weight, which is set at 300 pounds and the high price tag of $5,159 before taxes and possible shipping charges. If that’s too steep to pay all at once, Cybex offers financing through Affirm® starting at $144 per month, depending on credit. 

Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine
Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine
Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine

This leg extension and curl machine from Cybex is just as comfortable in a commercial gym as it is in your garage gym. It offers up to 202.5 pounds of resistance from selectorized weights in seven-and-a-half-pound increments. It may be pricey, but it’s among the best on the market and will last for many years. 

Who Should Buy the Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine

  • Lifters who want the highest quality and like a commercial machine feel will appreciate the fit and finish of this leg machine. All of the materials are commercial-grade, and this is similar to a machine you’d find in a high-end commercial gym.
  • Athletes who want to train not only quads but hamstrings too. This machine can easily switch from leg extensions to leg curls.
  • Consumers who prefer selectorized rather than plate-loaded machines. Selectorized machines make changing the weight between sets almost instantaneous.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine

  • Anyone on a tight budget will want to look at other options.
  • Those who are short on space may want to find a more space-saving option. Though this machine has a fairly small footprint for a standalone piece of equipment, there are more compact options on this list.
  • Larger athletes may want to look for other options that can accommodate a higher weight capacity. With this machine, the max body weight is 300 pounds.

With a price tag of over $5,000, we expect this machine to check every box and then some — and it does. The Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine is among the best on the market and should easily last you over a decade with proper maintenance. The weight stack is quite heavy with up to 202.5 pounds of resistance, meaning you won’t soon outgrow this machine either. Anyone looking to develop their quads and hams will find great use in the Cybex Ion Leg Extension/Curl Machine.

Best Leg Extension Machine for the Money

Leg extension machines can be expensive, especially when considering their relatively low utility for training only one or two body parts. That said, they’re still incredibly useful machines for developing the quads. Purchasing one that offers high value for the money it costs is ideal for anyone who doesn’t have a ton of extra cash to burn. We think the Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine offers the most bang for your buck.

Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine

This leg extension machine boasts both versatility and value while still saving you crucial space — all of which are important if you have a home gym. The Titan Series Leg Extension is designed to attach to a Titan Series rack, but don’t worry, it will fit on any rack with 3×3 uprights and one-inch pin holes — many of which you can find in our article on the best squat racks. The rack attachment fits onto your rack and has a seat area along with handles and an adjustable tibia pad — just like a full-fledged leg extension machine. You can easily switch up to leg curls for your hamstrings too, which can be performed while standing. 

Titan priced this accessory reasonably at about $609.99 before taxes, with free shipping to boot. Not only is this leg extension a great value for the money, but it saves space too measuring 43 inches wide, 25 inches deep, and 18 inches tall in its largest areas. Thanks to its hefty build from solid steel, this leg extension can handle quite a bit of weight. It has a loadable capacity of 275 pounds — though the max user weight of 265 pounds is somewhat lackluster. All that said, this is a solid budget option to squeeze in great leg volume without breaking the bank or taking up a ton of precious floor space. 

Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine
Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine
Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine

If you want to add mass and strength to your legs without breaking the bank, this rack attachment from Titan is a solid choice. It’s plate loaded and takes up less space than a traditional leg extension machine. You can even do leg curls too. 

Who Should Buy the Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine

  • People who are limited on space. The dimensions on this are 43 inches wide, 25 inches deep, and 18 inches tall, making it great for saving space.
  • Customers who are looking to save some money or don’t want to splurge on a machine will appreciate the lower cost of this leg extension.
  • Trainees in need of a leg extension that can handle heavy working weight. You can load 275 pounds worth of weight onto the sleeve.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine

  • Athletes who prefer to do lying hamstring curls may not like that you have to stand to do them with this machine.
  • Buyers who are looking for a full-fledged leg extension. This rack attachment gets the job done but lacks some of the features (like an adjustable seat pad) of a dedicated leg extension. 
  • Athletes who are larger (like strongman competitors) may find the weight limit on this to be too light for their body weight.

Titan has made quite a name for itself by producing high-quality strength equipment at very reasonable prices, and this leg extension is no different. If you have a rack that it’s compatible with you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option for a similar price. Not only does this piece save you space, but it saves you money compared to standalone leg extension machines. If you’re on the hunt for Tom Platz quads on a budget, this is a great piece of equipment to consider.

Best Leg Extension In a Weight Bench

Leg Extension machines come in many different forms, but one of the most convenient is a leg developer, which attaches to a weight bench. If you want to transition from doing bench exercises to working your legs, simply attach the leg developer portion to the bench, and you’re ready to go. One of these that stands above the rest is the ForceUSA MyBench, our top pick for this category.

ForceUSA MyBench

Unlike many of the other leg extension machine options on the market, this piece of equipment is quite versatile. The ForceUSA MyBench is a flat, incline, and decline weight bench with a sturdy weight capacity of 705 pounds, which is higher than many other options. On top of that, it comes with a leg developer, which is an attachment that turns your bench into a plate-loaded leg extension and leg curl machine. As a bonus, the MyBench comes with a preacher curl attachment for when you’re done crushing your legs and want to work on your arms. 

The price is quite reasonable for the utility this bench provides as it’s priced around $399.99 before taxes and possible shipping charges. The MyBench is comfortable to sit on too thanks to its high-density foam padding and commercial-grade upholstery. Plus, it offers a lifetime structural warranty, so you know ForceUSA designed it to last for many years. The pad measures 12 inches wide and the bench is 30 inches wide, 67 inches long, and 22 inches tall. 

Force USA MyBench
Force USA MyBench
Force USA MyBench

The Force USA MyBench comes with flat, incline, and decline settings, and also offers preacher curl and leg extension attachments. Though versatile, this bench still comes at a very affordable price. 

Who Should Buy the ForceUSA MyBench

  • Lifters who prefer equipment with high versatility. Not only is this product a flat, incline, and decline weight bench, but it offers a leg developer and preacher curl attachment, too.
  • Athletes who want a leg extension with a high weight capacity. MyBench has a weight capacity of 705 pounds.
  • Consumers who are limited on space and funds. This product will save you both thanks to its friendly price point and high versatility as a weight bench. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the ForceUSA MyBench

  • Buyers who have particularly short or long femurs may need a leg extension where the seat can move to accommodate for that.
  • Those who don’t want to have to load plates to do an accessory exercise may want to look for a selectorized leg extension.
  • Anyone looking for a dedicated leg extension, not just an attachment.

While this bench may not be what most may traditionally think of when discussing leg extension machines, the ForceUSA MyBench with a leg developer is a great option for those who don’t have the money or space for a full-fledged leg extension machine. With a high weight capacity of 705 pounds, this product is one you won’t soon outgrow.

Best Leg Extension Squat Rack Attachment

Having a separate machine for leg extensions is convenient and a big flex, but it’s not a luxury that all of us have the space or money for. There are alternatives available nowadays though, like rack attachment leg extensions. Titan Fitness makes a solid one and it’s our pick for best leg extension squat rack attachment. 

Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine

This rack-attached leg extension and curl machine from Titan allows you to isolate the quad and hamstring muscles without needing large or specialized equipment. This minimalist piece of equipment is made of solid steel and features a set of handles to hold onto and an adjustable tibia pad to accommodate different leg lengths, much as you’d find on higher-end equipment. Despite that, this piece is cost-effective, and Titan doesn’t offer some of the features we’d like — for example, the seat pad does not move forward and back to accommodate those with different femur lengths. 

Its space-saving design measures 43 inches wide, 25 inches long, and 18 inches tall in its largest areas. Titan made this leg extension to support a solid amount of weight too with a loadable capacity of 275 pounds (though the user weight capacity is 265 pounds). The limitation on user weight capacity makes sense since this is mounted onto a compatible rack, but it may still leave larger athletes wanting more. Compatibility is key with this piece of equipment, and it will work with any 3×3 inch rack upright with one inch holes.

Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine
Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine
Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine

If you want to add mass and strength to your legs without breaking the bank, this rack attachment from Titan is a solid choice. It’s plate loaded and takes up less space than a traditional leg extension machine. You can even do leg curls too. 

Who Should Buy the Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine

  • Lifters looking for a lightweight, easily movable leg extension. This product weighs 76 pounds, and is much more maneuverable than a full leg extension machine.
  • Customers who want to be able to transition and superset seamlessly between leg extensions and curls. You don’t have to move anything or change any settings on this machine to do so.
  • Those who are on a tight budget but need to do isolation work for their legs (such as you might for rehab purposes). This can help accumulate that isolation volume without costing you an arm and a leg in the process.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Titan Series Plate Loaded Leg Extension Machine

  • Trainees who don’t have a compatible rack will want to look at other options on the market.
  • Buyers who want the feel of a robust, dedicated leg extension machine may want to look at other options on the list.
  • Gymgoers who compete in strength sports or are naturally larger may find the user weight capacity of 265 pounds to be too low.

Despite its budget-friendly price tag and space-saving design, this leg extension and curl machine packs both versatility and sturdiness. Made from solid steel, the weight pin can handle 275 pounds, so even the quadfathers out there will have trouble maxing it out. You won’t find a better rack attached leg extension machine at such an affordable price, in our opinion. 

Best Leg Extension on Amazon

Ordering fitness equipment can be a headache sometimes and shipping times can be longer than they may be for other products. Purchasing your equipment on Amazon may help alleviate some of those problems — but it could create others at the same time. How do you know which products are good when there are so many? Which reviews can you trust? Thankfully, we’ve sifted through and discovered our favorite leg extension machine on Amazon, the Anything Sports Heavy Duty Adjustable Leg Extension and Curl Machine. 

Anything Sports Heavy Duty Adjustable Leg Extension and Curl Machine

This compact, dedicated leg extension machine is meant to tackle all your quad and hamstring development needs without taking up a ton of room. Not only does it allow for leg extensions via plate-loaded resistance, but it also allows for leg curls with minimal effort in changing the machine setup.

If you want to do sit-ups or use the machine as a flat bench, it can accommodate that too thanks to its convertible backrest. One thing to bear in mind is that this machine supports one-inch standard plates, so if you have Olympic plates, you may experience some rattling. To help with this, you’ll need to purchase an Olympic sleeve adapter, which usually runs around $25. This machine will cost you about $499.99 before taxes and ships free with Prime, making it an excellent value.

The weight capacity is solid on this leg extension — it can hold up to 500 pounds of combined weight. That means if you weigh 250 pounds, you can use up to 250 pounds of resistance for your leg extensions without exceeding the weight limit. You can also adjust the tibia pad to be comfortable for those with different tibial lengths. The dimensions of this product make it great for home gyms since it won’t take up as much space as other leg extension machines. It measures 46.5 inches long and 31 inches wide, and weighs around 42 kilos (92 pounds), meaning you can move it around too. Plus, Anything Sports includes a 12-month warranty with your purchase.

Anything Sports Heavy Duty Adjustable Leg Extension and Curl Machine
Anything Sports Heavy Duty Adjustable Leg Extension and Curl Machine
Anything Sports Heavy Duty Adjustable Leg Extension and Curl Machine

This may be labeled as a leg extension machine, but you can do a full body workout with this machine. The versatile back pad can fold flat for leg curls, and sit-ups, or be used as a flat bench. It can hold up to 500 pounds so even larger athletes can use this machine comfortably.

Who Should Buy the Anything Sports Heavy Duty Adjustable Leg Extension and Curl Machine

  • Buyers who want a dedicated leg extension machine but don’t have a lot of room or spare cash. This one is compact and affordably priced.
  • Anyone who prefers shopping on Amazon for free shipping will appreciate that this product qualifies for Prime.
  • Larger athletes. The 500-pound weight capacity allows nearly anyone to use this machine comfortably. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Anything Sports Heavy Duty Adjustable Leg Extension and Curl Machine

  • Lifters who don’t want to fuss with a plate-loaded machine may want to look at selectorized options.
  • People who are severely strapped for space may want to look at other options on this list, such as a rack attachment or leg developer for your weight bench.
  • Anyone who prefers more high-end equipment may find this to be lacking. Anything Sports made a solid leg extension machine, but it doesn’t have the same quantity of features that a more expensive name-brand machine might, such as an adjustable seat pad.

This leg extension machine is affordable, space-saving, sturdy, and ships quickly from Amazon. You won’t find a better quality or more versatile machine unless you’re willing to spend triple the price (or more). If you’re looking for a standalone leg extension and curl machine, this one is a great choice.

Best Leg Extension and Leg Curl Machine

Leg extensions are important for growing the quadriceps muscles, but if you’re only training the quads you’re ignoring half of your legs. The hamstrings need to be trained too to maintain balance and help to prevent injury. Doing only leg extensions would be like only training the chest and never your back. That’s why we like this piece of equipment — you can train both leg extensions and leg curls to provide the most leg development possible. 

ForceUSA MyBench

When it comes to versatility, this product takes the cake. Not only is this a flat, incline, and decline weight bench, but it comes with a leg developer to do leg extensions and leg curls, and a preacher curl attachment, too. The MyBench has a solid weight capacity of 705 pounds, which will allow you to load up some heavy leg extensions even if you’re a large athlete. Want to switch to leg curls and hit the hammies? All you have to do is lay the backrest flat, and you’re good to go. Due to where the resistance is on the machine, it may take some getting used to since it will feel heavier during the mid-range of the movement and easier at the top and bottom.

In terms of savings, this product helps you save both money and space. The leg developer attachment is easy to remove for when you want to crush a bench press. When you want to train legs, it attaches quickly with one clip. The bench’s dimensions are 30 inches wide by 67 inches long and 22 inches tall with a 12-inch back pad. ForceUSA designed the MyBench to last for decades and stands behind it with a lifetime structural warranty. If you want to work both the quads and hamstrings, the ForceUSA MyBench is worth consideration.

Force USA MyBench
Force USA MyBench
Force USA MyBench

The Force USA MyBench comes with flat, incline, and decline settings, and also offers preacher curl and leg extension attachments. Though versatile, this bench still comes at a very affordable price. 

Who Should Buy the ForceUSA MyBench

  • Gymgoers who want to avoid muscle imbalances and train not only the quads, but hamstrings, too. This leg developer doubles as a leg extension and leg curl.
  • Athletes who are prone to hamstring injuries will find the ability to do leg curls helpful for strengthening the hams.
  • Those looking for maximum versatility from their equipment will like the plethora of exercises you can do with this product.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the ForceUSA MyBench

  • Trainees who prefer constant resistance throughout the range of motion of a movement may want to opt for a selectorized or cable-driven leg extension.
  • Lifters who don’t want to fuss with loading plates may want to look at other options on this list.
  • Consumers who prefer a competition height on their weight bench may find this too tall.

When you work on one muscle, working the antagonist is almost always recommended to maintain balance. You can do leg extensions for days, but if you ignore your hamstrings you may find your legs are still weak. That’s why it’s important to purchase a leg extension that can work both the quads and the hamstrings, like the ForceUSA MyBench. 

How We Decide Our Picks

Leg extension machines come in a variety of shapes, sizes, options, and styles. When picking the best one for a variety of situations and to fit different needs we had to take many factors into account. We looked at the materials the machines are made from, as well as the fit and finish of each one. Price is an important factor, along with versatility. We looked at the price of a product compared to how many different exercises you can do with it in order to make our picks. But we break down each of these considerations a little more below.

Material, Fit, and Finish

Almost all leg extension machines are made from steel at their base, which is good because they need to support both your bodyweight and the weight of your resistance, as well. Other materials that come into play when making our picks are the seat cushion, weight pin, cushion cover, and handles. 

Leg Extension
Image via Shutterstock/ Felix_Velez

Certain leg extensions are better made than others and it shows with their fit, finish, and overall build quality. If a manufacturer opts to build their machine with cheaper materials for a seat cushion or a wobbly weight pin, that will rank lower on our list. Conversely, if a manufacturer pays attention to detail and makes a premium feeling product, it will likely rank higher.

Price

The price of leg extension machines can vary wildly from a few hundred dollars for a rack attachment to thousands of dollars for a standalone selectorized machine with a heavy weight stack. That said, the price has to reflect what you receive as a consumer, and if the price is reasonable for the quality compared to other machines on the market, that pick will likely rank better. We look at the prices relative to the build quality and versatility of the product.

Versatility

Leg extensions may seem straightforward enough on the surface as a way to strictly train the quads. If you look further, you’ll see that versatility is a huge component of making a solid leg extension that’s worth the money. It’s true, some leg extension machines only do one thing, but if they do that well and meet the other criteria listed above, that’s great. Other leg extensions may do double or even triple duty as weight benches, sit-up boards, leg curl machines, and more. Machines that are versatile and make it easy to switch between exercises will usually rank higher on our lists.

How Much Do Leg Extension Machines Cost?

As with any other type of fitness equipment, the price for leg extension machines can vary quite a bit from one product or company to the next. The type of leg extension machine will also greatly impact the final price. Without considering shipping costs, leg extension machines can range from a few hundred dollars up to $5,000 or more for high-end commercial-grade ones.

Woman Doing Leg Extensions
Image via Shutterstock/ LightField Studios

Rack attached leg extensions will range from around $300 to $1,000 while leg developers will cost $100 to $300 for the attachment itself and $300 to $1,000 for a weight bench and leg developer combo. Standalone machines can cost as low as $500 for a very basic one, whereas commercial machines can cost upwards of $5,000. Whichever type you choose, leg extensions aren’t cheap, so make sure you do your homework. 

Benefits of Leg Extension Machines

You can find leg extension machines in nearly every well-equipped gym for a reason: because they’re useful. As with any piece of gym equipment, they’re a tool and an ends to a means. In the case of leg extension machines, their primary and obvious function is to increase the amount of volume that the quadriceps muscles receive during training by allowing you to isolate the quad muscles. They can also be used to potentially rehabilitate those who are returning from injury or help prehab to potentially prevent injuries.

Isolation Work

Working the muscles using compound exercises is generally regarded as the best way to build muscle and increase strength, but certain muscles are usually the limiting factor as to how much you can lift. Your lower back or glutes will usually fail far before your quads do on squats, which is why isolation exercises can be helpful. Leg extension machines allow you to do more direct work on the quads without worrying about other muscles limiting you. Conversely, if your quads are indeed the weak point, isolating them with a leg extension may help get them more in line with your other muscles.

Prehab and Rehab

Another great use for leg extension machines is prehab or rehab. Isolating the quads and building strength in a specific range of motion that can be weaker than other areas may help to prevent injury. Strength, after all, is never a weakness. You’ll often find isolation machines such as leg extensions in physical therapy clinics to help rehabilitate from injury. Since you’re usually sitting down to do leg extensions, there may be less risk and the muscles can be more safely worked. This is especially true when trying to avoid working other potentially injured muscles. But of course, talk to your doctor or specialist for any rehab protocols as this isn’t meant to be medical advice.

What to Consider Before Buying a Leg Extension Machine

So you’ve decided you want to add a leg extension machine to your gym. Here’s what you should consider beforehand to make sure you’re buying the right one for your needs. First, lay out your budget and figure out how much you can afford to spend on a leg extension. Once you figure that out, the other major consideration is what type of leg extension to buy. This will largely be determined by your budget and the space you have available. There are many different types on the market, and each has its own advantages and drawbacks.

Budget

Figuring out your budget is the biggest factor to nail down when buying a leg extension. You may want to opt for a selectorized leg extension machine with a giant weight stack to grow into, but if you’re on a tight budget, chances are that’s not in the cards for you. If you’ve got a ton of extra cash to burn you may be able to splurge and purchase a more high-end machine, but you’ll need the space to house it too, so keep that in mind. Before you make any purchase, break out the trusty calculator and crunch those numbers to ensure you’re purchasing within your means.

Weight Capacity 

An often overlooked feature of leg extensions is their weight capacity, and these machines can vary quite a bit in this regard. Some companies will list the total or combined weight capacity (meaning the total of both the user and the weights being lifted), whereas others will list the loadable capacity. Take care to note which weight you’re seeing. Generally, the weight capacity is around 500 pounds for non-standalone machines and even higher for dedicated leg extensions. Ensure that you’re getting a leg extension that can handle your body weight, plus how much you can lift. 

Type of Leg Extensions

As we alluded to earlier, there are tons of different leg extensions out there. Some folks are minimalist or tight on space and may want to opt for a rack-mounted one. Others may prefer a standalone machine because they’re trying to be Count Quadula. Whatever your preference or goals, there’s a leg extension machine design that’ll fit your needs.

Rack Mounted

Likely the most cost-effective option, rack-mounted leg extensions are great because they save space and utilize equipment that you already have to accomplish your goal. There are a few drawbacks here, namely that you have to have a compatible rack for this option to work. Before you purchase a rack-mounted leg extension machine, ensure that your squat rack has the correct upright dimensions and hole size/spacing to fit the piece you’re buying. The convenience and space-saving factor here is what makes these stand out and appeal to many people.

Another factor to consider is the weight capacity of a rack-mounted leg extension. Since they attach to a squat upright and that connection is usually at a singular point, the weight capacity is not to be taken lightly. Overloading this type of leg extension can result in it bending or worse, snapping. But as long as you stick with the manufacturer’s guidelines you should be fine — though testing the weight capacity first is a good idea. 

Leg Developer

These are probably the most common type of leg extensions you’ll find in a home gym. Leg developers are an attachment that goes onto a weight bench to turn that bench into a leg extension and often a leg curl machine which you can load with plates for resistance. The weight moves in a parabolic arc about its moment angle, which means that the weight starts out easier and becomes harder until the halfway point of the rep and then becomes easier until the top of the rep. 

This can feel odd if you’re used to constant tension from a cable pulley or selectorized machine, so it takes some getting used to. Other than that, these types of leg extensions are usually great for saving space and saving money (since they tend to be cheaper than most other options).

Standalone

The big Kahuna of leg extensions, a standalone leg extension machine, will offer the most features and creature comforts. You can usually adjust the tibia pad to accommodate different limb lengths, as well as the seat pad for shorter or longer femur lengths. In addition to that, these are usually the most comfortable and offer the smoothest resistance, but are generally the most expensive. They often cost well over $1,000, and sometimes several thousands of dollars. Whether selectorized with a weight stack or plate-loaded, they’re the priciest, but likely the most convenient.

Final Word

Leg extension machines are sometimes overlooked as many strength sports athletes prefer compound movements, but they can be a great tool if used properly. They can help to bring up lagging areas or correct imbalances if one leg is stronger than the other. Leg extension machines can also be used practically to potentially prevent injury by strengthening the muscles that surround and cross the knee joint. Many leg extension machines double as leg curl machines, which can be helpful to add in some extra posterior chain volume (without doing taxing compound movements) and may even help improve a stalled deadlift.

No matter which type you choose, all of these machines serve the same purpose — to train the quadriceps muscles. In the end, it’s all about figuring out what features you’re looking for, and what machines in your budget have those features. But overall, if you’re looking for a high quality leg extension machine, the ones on this list are all top-tier.

FAQs

Why do leg extensions instead of other leg exercises?

Leg extensions have a few benefits and a few drawbacks over other leg exercises. They allow you to focus strictly on the quad muscles without any other ones taking over the work. Aside from that, leg extensions are a non-weight-bearing exercise, which can be great for those who are just starting out lifting or recovering from injury.

On the downside, leg extensions don’t offer the same stability work that free weights do. They can also cause imbalances instead of fixing them if you focus too much on extensions and not enough on leg curls. Leg extension machines are a tool just like any other exercise machine, and when used properly, they can give great results.

Leg extensions hurt my shins, so I don’t like doing them. Any advice?

Pro-tip: Try wearing a pair of high-top shoes next time you’re doing leg extensions. Position the tibia pad over the tongue of your shoes for added comfort, and the pain from the pressure should subside. This can also make the exercise harder because the resistance is further from your center of gravity.

How often should I use my leg extension machine?

That really depends on your goals and lifting philosophy. Many people ascribe to classic bodybuilding splits, which work out each body part once (sometimes twice) per week with high volume. Others like to do full-body workouts every day. Listen to your body and your trainer or coach if you have one. But the quadriceps are big muscles and are used in a ton of activities during everyday life, like walking, standing, jumping, and more, so it can be easy to overwork them without realizing it.