Best and Worst Quad Exercise Ever!

Best and Worst Quad Exercise Ever!!

Hans:  Leg extensions are the worst quad exercise ever!


Leg extensions are the exercise that everyone loves to hate but first, let me explain the two reasons why I did a pillow scream:

  1. The reason that leg extensions are the most dangerous exercise for the knee ever is that 99% of people do it incorrectly.
  2. You simply cannot make blanket statements about what exercise is “best” or “worst“!  It depends on how it is performed and what the goals/limitations are of the person doing it.
  3. You cant use words like “best’ or “worst” without qualifying them.  Best for WHAT?   For building strength?  For health?  For muscle building?  For flexibility?  For balance?  For helping you lift bales of hay into a pickup truck?  Only an idiot assumes that everyone shares their goals.

The best quad exercise ever

  • If you are in perfect health, know how to squat properly, and have a power rack to squat safely:  squats are the #1 best exercise for quads – period, end of discussion.
  • If you have lower back issues: Leg press is the best exercise for quads because there is no spinal compression when done properly.
  • If you have knee tendonitis: Its tough to find *any* exercise that you can do without making the sitation worse. For many of us, leg extensions with very little range of motion is not only the best quad exercise we can do, its the ONLY exercise we can do.

NOTE: I am NOT a medical professional.  If you have lower back issues or knee pain then do not listen to me nor anyone else on the internet – SEE A FRIGGIN DOCTOR!

Proper Leg Extensions

I dont care what the pros do.  I dont care how you were taught to do this.  Most people use full range of motion and momentum by flinging the machine around.  Performed in this fashion, yes, leg extension is the most dangerous exercise you can do!

For people who have had knee surgery, one of the first strengthening exercises a physical therapist gives them is the straight leg raise where you lay on your back with one leg bent and the bad one straight.  You raise the bad leg slightly off the ground then put it back down.  All you do is lift the leg and the weight of the lower leg gently works the quad without any knee rotation at all.  The leg extension is basically the same thing when done with the form I promote here, the only difference is that the weight of the lower leg is supplemented with forces applied by the machine.

So how does this relate to tendonitis.  Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons in the knee.  Inflammation causes swelling which causes makes everything bind up and cause more inflammation and swelling when you try to use the knee – a vicious cycle.  As the below video indicates,  you use full range of motion on leg extensions it puts incredible stress on the knee and causes even more inflammation.  On the other hand if you use the leg extension machine as a place to do an isometric/static hold, you can workout the quad without issue.

I repeat, I am not a medical professional.

Why large range of motion on leg extension is bad



Spinal Compression in squats vs leg press

Spinal Compression During Squats