Top 5 Leg Extensions Alternatives For Massive Quads – Generation Iron Fitness & Strength Sports Network

leg extension alternatives

You can do other exercises besides leg extensions to grow your quadriceps.

Are you a bodybuilder looking for success or a fitness enthusiast who wants to improve your overall physique? One key element is huge Quad. Not only will this translate for the better squats AND balancebut also reduces the risk of knee injuries. Also, let’s remember the benefit of improving your physique. This article looks likein five best alternatives to leg extensions, including cable leg extensions and front squats.

RELATED: Top 13 Leg Exercises For Monster Legs

The quadriceps comprise four muscles: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. Leg extensions isolate these muscles and help build strong quads. Of course, you could also do that you lunge and squats, but the leg extensions focus primarily on the quads.

The popular variation of leg extensions is performed with a leg extension machine. But unfortunately, only some people have access to this. Additionally, others find that leg extensions cause severe knee pain and would like an alternative. However, if you fall into the above categories, we have good news for you.

This carefully curated list contains body weight AND free weight alternatives you can use at home. It also has options you can do on others cars and also a less demanding option for the knees. Here is our list of the five best alternatives to leg extensions for building massive Quad.

1. Short stride lunges

First on our list of leg extension alternatives are short-stride lunges, one body weight compound exercise. Lunges work the quadriceps, buttocks, adductorsAND calves. They build yours leg muscles unilaterally one side at a time.

Lunges work your quads a lot more than your other muscles, like hamstrings (1). However, you can leverage this routine to build your quads even more by shortening yours steps. Short-stride lunges emphasize the quads and can be done with free weights to build more mass.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your hands at your sides and your feet together as you look straight ahead.
  2. Get ready nucleus and then take a short step forward. This is your starting position.
  3. Bend your legs and lower the knee of your back leg until it’s an inch off the floor. Don’t let that knee reach the ground. Maintain the front and rear shin thigh vertical.
  4. Keeping about 60-70% of your weight on your front leg, push off with that foot to return to the starting position and complete the rep.
  5. Alternate legs to perform another rep, or do all reps with one leg in front before switching to the other for the desired number of sets.

2. Standing Cable Leg Extensions

If there is a long line for the leg extension machine and the cable the machine is free, how about trying this similar alternative? Standing cable leg extensions are a variation which focuses on the quadriceps. Note that you can’t go too heavy with this movement, but knee flexion and hip extension create strong and effective quadriceps contractions.

Standing cable leg extensions are performed with the aid of an ankle cuff and work the quadriceps without the muscle fatigue that comes with other compound exercises. However, it can be difficult to maintain balance during this movement, so be careful.

How to do it:

  1. Attach the ankle cuff to the low pulley cable and put it on one leg.
  2. Stand with your back to the cable machine and lift your legs so your hip and knee are approximately horizontally level.
  3. Support your core and extend your leg forward until it’s straight, grabbing the cable pole for balance.
  4. Bend the leg back without lowering the knee to complete the representative.
  5. Switch to the other leg and repeat.

3. Dumbbell leg extensions

THE handlebar the leg extension is an excellent quadruple isolation exercise that you can do at home. Some surrounding muscles, such as yours adductors and hip flexors are also recruited during this exercise. The thigh muscles, such as the buttocks and the hamstrings, are not activated with this routine, but are effective for strengthening the quadriceps.

Dumbbell leg extensions are beginner friendly and the free weight lets you move and create a deeper stretch for more hypertrophy. All you need are dumbbellsand something to sit on that lets your legs hang off the floor.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on a bench or chair with the backs of your knees level with the end of the chair.
  2. Place a dumbbell between your feet and squeeze hard.
  3. Extend your legs until they are straight, then bend them back to the starting position to complete the repetition.
  4. If your chair is too low, you can place it on blocks to avoid the limiteng your range of motion.

4. Front squats

front squats

While all squats work the quadriceps, front squats they are more quadricentric. They involve more knee movement and less hip movement than other squats, such as the Backwards squat. Research shows that adopting a wide stance when performing squats has been shown to recruit the knees morethus working your quads better than the tight position (2).

Front squats put less fatigue on your lower back, but you can’t lift as much as you would with back squats. They also require a little more mobility and they’re done rocker arms. When performing this routine, you should avoid sitting on your heels and try to keep your back straight.

How to do it:

  1. Load a barbell on your upper chest and collarbone and rest it on your shoulders.
  2. Place your hand in an underhand grip just outside shoulder-width apart and push yours elbows on.
  3. Begin your squat by moving your hips and bending your knees to drop your buttocks towards the floor.
  4. Keep your chest up and resist the pull to fall forward as your knees drop.

5. Pull the sled backwards

The Backward Sled Pull is a knee-friendly quad builder that will take your quads size and strength to the next level. This movement will also test the strength of your core as you will be leaning back with your arms straight. This exercise is suitable for beginners as the movement is not too difficult to grasp.

You can pull the sled backwards with straps with handles or use a belt that allows you to move hands-free. This exercise works on yours abdominal muscleship flexors, Chest, shoulderscalves, glutes, adductors and triceps. Also, backward sled pulls are beneficial to the knee because they are concentric muscle actions that don’t put as much stress on the knees as eccentric muscle actions.

How to do it:

  1. Holding a handle in each hand, stand facing the sled and squat into a quarter-deep squat.
  2. Walk back until your arms straighten and the straps they are tight.
  3. Start walking backwards making sure your arms stay straight as you pull the sled.
  4. Drive your heels into the floor as you walk to increase quadriceps recruitment.

Learn from the Pros – Leg Extension Tips by Danny Hester

Classic Physique Olympia champion Danny Hester has already caught up with Generation Iron at the gym to share some vital tips on how to perfect the leg extension exercise. With decades of experience leading to a win at Olympia, there’s no better athlete to gain insight from than Hester himself. Check it out below:


Want to build huge quads but tired of doing leg extensions? You can do many other exercises to build the front of your thighs. Also, making various moves will prevent you from hitting a plateau in your progress.

Check out these five leg extension alternatives to help overload your muscles for hypertrophy. Not only will you shake up your routine, but you’ll also find knee-friendly options.

Follow us on Instagram, FacebookAND Chirping to learn other alternative exercises!


  1. Muyor, JM, Martn-Fuentes, I., Rodrguez-Ridao, D., & Antequera-Vique, JA (2020). EMG activity in the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and rectus femoris during Monopodal Squat, Forward Lunge, and Lateral Step-Up exercises. PloS one, 15(4), e0230841.
  2. Escamilla, RF, Fleisig, GS, Lowry, TM, Barrentine, SW, & Andrews, JR (2001). A three-dimensional biomechanical analysis of the squat during different stance widths. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, 33(6), 984998.

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