This week’s masterclass focuses on the Seated Leg Extension / Leg Curl Machine. It is another of our machines that performs two different exercises.

You can do the Leg Extension, by extending your legs against resistance. You can also do the Leg Curl, by bending your legs against resistance. Because setting the machine can be a little complicated, we will look at one exercise this week and one next week.

Seated Leg Extension

The seated leg extension works the thigh muscles at the top front of legs (your quadriceps muscles, or ‘quads’). The quads are made up of four muscles that help to raise the knee, straighten the leg and stabilise the knee.

This is an isolation exercise which means only the quadriceps will be working with no help from any other muscles. Because of this, the exercise can be tough on the knees so the leg press, where a number of muscles help perform the exercise, may be more suitable if you currently experience knee pain.

Having said that, the Leg Extension can help strengthen the muscles that support the knee so can help to reduce knee pain and rehabilitate the knee after injury or surgery.

If you are a wheelchair user and unable to transfer to the Seated Leg Extension seat, please ask one of our instructors for an alternative exercise.

How to perform the Seated Leg Extension

  • Using the controls to the left hand side, select Extension.
  • Position yourself in the seat, with your back against the seat back and with your legs positioned over the top leg pads and under the bottom leg pads.
  • You will now need to check the position of the leg pads.
  • Top leg pad: adjust the seat back using the lever to the side so the top leg pad is in contact with the back of your knees, whilst
  • letting your legs rest at a 90-degree angle.
  • Bottom leg pad: Adjust the bottom leg pad so it sits above your ankle and below your shin.
  • Using the controls to the right-hand, select the required resistance.
  • To begin the exercise, exhale as you straighten your legs, taking care not to lock your knees. Pause.
  • Inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat for the required number of repetitions and sets.

It is possible to select the maximum and minimum distance the pads will move using the levers to the side of the machine. Please ask an instructor for a demonstration of how to do this.

If one of your legs is noticeably weaker than the other, it is possible to exercise each leg independently.