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Leg extensions

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
A was describing my pre-season training routine to a freind; cardio, agility, and some specific weight training (squats, leg extensions and leg curls). She advised me, with leg extensions and leg curls, that I should avoid fully extending the leg. She said that a full extension placed too much stress on the patella, and suggested that the knee should always remain somewhat flexed. I haven't heard this before and it sounded to me that reducing the range of motion isn't the best advice. Has anyone else heard this advice?
post #2 of 7
We have discussed the leg extension machine in detail in all the ACL threads. Basically, "open chain" exercises, where the foot is in a "free" position, place shearing forces on the knee making them more susceptible to injury. Another thing to consider: The leg extension is unusual in that it is almost a complete isolation of the quads. Given that quads being too much stronger than hamstrings is one of the many reasons people injure their ACL, why would you want to promote this imbalance?

We used to believe that if you were not injured, the leg extension is an acceptable exercise. However, recent studies have indicated that people who regularly performed leg extension exercises were actually more prone to athletic injuries than those who performed more functional exercise.

The leg extension machine causes the leg muscles to work in a predictable pattern of movement. Skiing does not happen in a predictable pattern of movement! Remember, training happens on a neurological basis.Do a search for the kinetic chain thread for details.

Some members of this forum have stated that they "safely" used the leg extension machine after having injured their ACL. But the question needs to be asked "Would they have injured it in the first place had they not used that machine?"

Maybe, maybe not. How much are you willing to gamble?
post #3 of 7
Good points are raised on both sides of this fence but I think the leg extension is being demonized a bit. I have used it both in rehab and now as part of my leg weight routine, though my use of it is greatly minimized due to mega time on the bike and increased use of the leg press machine (involving more "predictable" movements, as does bicycling, swimming, etc.). It IS a good idea to not lock at the "top" (extension) of the movement and to avoid - my opinion here - using heavy weights on this machine. Lighter weights, more reps (but no more than 15, I think) are in order.
I also focus on keeping the balancing muscles (hamstrings) strong with leg curls.

If you're doubtful at all, hop on the bike and keep the reps at least 80-85 rpm. You'll work the quads and get an aerobic workout.

EDIT: ...notes...

notes 2

[ September 23, 2002, 10:23 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Good advice. I'll also check the "kinetic" thread. Thanks for your thoughts.
post #5 of 7
If you are squatting, you don't need to do any other upper leg exercises. Leg extensions are an isolation exercise that can potentially hinder your recovery and progress with squats.

A general weightlifting guideline is to stick with compound movements so you hit the entire body without taxing it with too many exercises


Bench Press
Shoulder Press
Chin ups
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Even with the squats wouldn't some specific excercises for the hamstrings be advisable. Also how about some lunges, forward/back and side to side, with light weights?
post #7 of 7
Lunges, step ups and leg press are the main lower leg exercises that I do. With lunges, make sure that the knee does not extend out past the toes. I also ride the bike, jump rope for 3 sets of two minutes and do plyometrics to keep my agility going.
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