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The 5 Best Leg Extension Machines (A 2019 Review)

The 5 Best Leg Extension Machines (A 2019 Review)

Do you have a love-hate relationship with leg day? Some people love leg day because they can really see improvements in their legs rather quickly. Others, on the other hand, dread leg day because they are out for the count for several days after due to soreness. Regardless of your relationship with leg day, most people, if not all, would agree to a leg day workout that is both efficient and effective. Consider purchasing a leg extension machine that can provide a quick and effective leg day.

While you may see leg extension and leg curl machines at your local gym, you can have one right in your home! No more trips to the gym for leg day because you don’t have the right equipment to get the ultimate leg workouts at home. With a leg extension curl machine at home, you can pack on a lot of pounds and exercise your legs for bulk and/or for toning.

Choosing the Best Leg Extension Machine

Man Using A Leg Extension Machine For FitnessAs you may know, the legs are extremely important for overall function and strength. Think of your legs as the foundation of your body (which they really are!). If your legs are strong, you can make gains throughout the rest of your body. In this article, we will discuss the differences between leg extension and leg curl machines so that you know which type of machine you will need.

Also, we will review Fitnessator’s Top Picks in the best leg extension machines and leg curl machines on the market today. After reading our reviews, you can compare each of the products in “The Rundown” section. Hopefully, our side-by-side product comparison chart will help you make an educated decision on purchasing the best leg extension machine for you.

Upon your purchase of a leg extension machine, try our awesome leg workout to get you prepared for maxing out on your new leg machine. You can do these exercises for leg extension without a machine. With our sample workout and your new leg machine, you can get the legs you have been longing for.

Know the Difference: Leg Extension versus Leg Curl Machine

If you do a search for the best leg exercise machines on the market, you may find machine leg extensions and leg curls, but what do they offer? Is one machine better than the other? Which leg machine is the best for the gains you want? Let’s take a look at the difference between a leg extension machine and a leg curl machine.

Leg Extension Machine for Big Quadriceps

A leg extension machine focuses primarily on your quadriceps, which is a group of large muscles in the front of your thighs. The leg extension machine starts the exercise with your legs bent and then applies resistance as you work to straighten the legs. When performing a leg extension exercise, you should feel a burn in the front of your thighs.

Even though these muscles are often the strongest muscles in the body, they are still prone to injury (1). Therefore, it is imperative that everyone prioritizes quadriceps strength for the long term because such strength is predictive of overall functionality and success after surgery, especially in men (2). However, proper technique, safety, and exercising with a suitable amount of weight may be the most important factors for reducing injury. According to one 2016 study, overall quadriceps strength does not determine your likelihood of injury.

Leg Curl Machine for Strong Hamstrings

A leg curl machine works on the opposing muscle group to the quadriceps. Instead of working the front of your legs, a leg curl machine works the hamstring muscles, which are in the backs of your legs. When performing a leg curl on a machine, your legs start in a straightened position and then experience resistance as you try to curl your legs to a 90-degree angle at the knee joint. If performed correctly, you should feel the burn primarily in the back of your thighs.

Proper strengthening in the hamstrings is very important to prevent injury in both average exercisers and elite athletes. In fact, while this may not be a surprise to some, hamstring injuries are the most common injuries in soccer players and football players (34). Since hamstring injuries are so prevalent, make sure you are strengthening and exercising your hamstrings in a safe manner.

Fitnessator’s Top Picks in Leg Extension Curl Machines

Now that you know the difference between a leg extension machine and a leg curl machine, let’s take a look at Fitnessator’s Top Picks. As you will see, some of these machines offer a single type of leg workout, however, others offer a combination of extension and curls.

Before you make a decision, be sure to read the reviews, compare the products in “The Rundown” section, and then check out our sample leg workout. Some of the exercises in our workout can be done without a leg machine and have a similar effect. Having the option to do leg exercises without a machine may allow you to allot more money for other equipment that you will need for leg exercises (i.e. leg press machine, weight sets).

Fitnessator’s Top Pick 

XMark Leg Extension and Curl Machine – The Best Leg Extension Machine for Heavy Lifting

XMark Leg Extension and Curl MachineWhy We Love It:

We chose the XMark leg machine as our top pick since it offers both leg curls and leg extensions. Also, while weights are not included, this machine has features to ensure stability during use, even when you’re pumping lots of weight on the machine. Read on to find out more about this feature.

The Research:

According to the research, the balance between quadriceps and hamstring strength is important for proper leg function (5). While the quadriceps are designed to be much stronger than the hamstring, there should be a linear relationship between increasing quadriceps and hamstring strength. So, as you increase the strength in your quadriceps, you should also increase strength in the hamstrings. To ensure you can maintain the correct balance in the front and back of the legs, purchasing a combination leg machine like the XMark is imperative.

Details:
  • Highly adjustable machine, which is beneficial to accommodate nearly all people and all angles of exercise
  • Weights not included with this machine
  • Constructed with a rear weight plate post for storage and added stability during use
  • XMark Fitness Website Price: $543
Things to Consider:

Even though having a stability rear weight post is a great feature, make sure you have enough weight plates handy to stabilize the machine. If you only have enough weight plates for doing max outs on the leg machine, you will not have enough weight plates to place on rear of the machine. Consider having two sets of weight plates. 

Customer Reviews:

Per customer reviews, this is a solid machine that can hold a lot of weight for people looking to bulk up their legs. As long as the weight is counterbalanced in the back, you can get over 300 lbs resistance on the machine.

Even though this machine can accommodate both standard and Olympic weight plates, customers say that weight adaptors and clamps are needed while using this machine. So, these accessories may be an additional expense.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you want a combination leg machine in which you can place a lot of weight, this is the ultimate machine for your needs. On this one machine, you can get mega strength gains in the quadriceps and the hamstrings.

Fitnessator’s Runner Up

Body Solid Leg Extension and Curl Machine – The Best Heavy Duty Leg Extension Machine 

Body Solid Leg Extension and Curl MachineWhy We Love It:

This machine is manufactured by a highly-rated fitness company and is also another leg curl and leg extension combination machine. With this two-in-one product, you can be sure you can get a comprehensive leg workout in one space of square footage.

Details:
  • Weights not included with this machine
  • Adjustable machine that uses pins to alter the machine
  • Constructed with a wide base for stability during use
  • Body Solid Website Price: $770
Things to Consider:

Unlike the Fitnessator Top Pick, the Body Solid machine does not have a rear counterweight apparatus. Instead, it is constructed with a wide base, however, this may not be as stable as having counterweight in the rear. That being said, this machine may not be able to hold as much weight as the Top Pick leg curl machine. 

Customer Reviews:

If you’re tall, even over 6 feet tall, you will most likely be able to fit on this machine. Tall customers stated they were pleasantly surprised in the machine’s ability to accommodate their height.

Based on the construction of the machine, customers state that it can only hold four 45-lb weights. Now, for some people, this may be more than enough. However, for others, they may need more weight on the machine, especially for exercising the quadriceps. 

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you’re looking for a heavy duty leg extension and leg curl machine combination, look no further than the Body Solid machine. This heavy machine can accommodate most people, even if you are much taller than the average person. 

Fitnessator’s Honorable Mention

Marcy Leg Developer – The Best Full Leg Workout Machine

Marcy Leg Developer Leg Extension MachineWhy We Love It:

The Marcy Leg Developer provides both leg extension and leg curl exercises along with gluteal workouts and an adjustable bench for flat, incline, and decline settings. Therefore, you can use this one machine for several leg, gluteal, and even some upper body workouts.

Details:
  • Allows for leg extension and lying prone leg curls
  • Weights not included with this machine
  • Max weight capacity is 300 lbs
  • Marcy Pro Website Price: $149.99
Things to Consider:

One of the main things to consider about the Marcy Leg Developer is that the bench only has a weight capacity of 300 lbs. Make sure you take into consideration your own weight that you put on the bench. Such a weight capacity may be too light for someone to add lots of weight plates for muscle bulking.

Customer Reviews:

If you are under six feet tall, this may be the best bench for you. Customers claim that this bench works well with someone of an average height (i.e. between 5’4” and 5’8”). Also, assembly for this machine is fairly quick and straightforward.

According to customers, the padding on this machine is uncomfortable and insufficient. Compared to the other products on this list, the Marcy machine padding is much less dense.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you are in the market for a leg developer and weight bench, consider the Marcy product. This versatile machine can give you both a lower body and upper body workout, allowing you to save money on buying multiple pieces of equipment.

The Best Leg Curl Machine

Valor Leg Curl Machine

Valor Leg Curl MachineWhy We Love It:

Unlike the other products on the list, the Valor leg curl machine focuses mostly on one leg exercise, rather than being adjustable for multiple exercise. If you already have an existing leg workout and want to improve upon your hamstring exercise regimen, choose this leg curl machine to bridge the gap. 

Details:
  • Weights not included with this machine
  • Both leg curl and leg extension exercises are available (with adjustments)
  • Maximum weight load on the weight post is 200 lbs
  • Valor Fitness Website Price: $279.28
Things to Consider:

Even though you can technically do both leg curls and leg extensions on this machine, the process for switching from one exercise to the other involves adjusting, modifying, and removing several parts before doing so. 

Customer Reviews:

Overall, people claim that assembly for this machine takes between 1 to 2 hours. Also, in regards to the assembly instructions, some customers appreciate the various picture diagrams that came with the machine. 

As you may imagine, customers do not like the lengthy process to switching the leg curl attachment out with the leg developer attachment. This often disrupts the workout session.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you already have exercise equipment for your quadriceps (i.e. a power rack), perhaps you need something that will just focus on your hamstrings. The Valor leg curl machine can give you a quick and efficient leg curl workout to be performed in the middle of your total leg day routine.

The Best Leg Machine Attachment 

XMark Adjustable Bench Attachment

XMark Adjustable Bench AttachmentWhy We Love It:

This machine has both leg development exercises and an upper body exercise via a preacher curl. If you need a machine that gives you several exercises on one piece, whether to save money and/or save on space, choose this machine.

Details:
  • Total weight capacity is 600 lbs
  • Includes a leg developer attachment, adjustable bench and preacher curl attachment
  • Weights not included with this machine
  • XMark Website Price: $261
Things to Consider:

XMark sells several versions of this package, so make sure you know what is included in the package you are purchasing. For example, some packages do not include the preacher curl attachment.

Customer Reviews:

People appreciate the stability and commercial-grade materials with this product. To some, this machine is similar to what they would see in a commercial gym. 

If you are like some customers who need heavy weight leg workouts, unfortunately, this leg developer can only withstand 75 lbs on the leg attachment.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you’re on a budget or need to save space in your home fitness area, the XMark adjustable machine is an all-in-one leg developer, weight bench, and bicep developer. Also, it’s less than $300!

The Rundown on Leg Extension Curl Machines

Here is a quick way to compare all the leg extension leg curl machines we reviewed in this article. Hopefully by using this list, you can find the best leg machine for your needs.

Product

Less than $300

Allows for leg extension exercise

Allows for leg curl exercise

Type(s) of weight needed

XMark Leg Extension and Curl Machine (Top Pick) X X Olympic or standard weight plates
Body Solid Leg Extension and Curl Machine (Runner Up) X X Olympic or standard weight plates
Marcy Leg Developer (Honorable Mention) X X X Olympic or standard weight plates
Valor Leg Curl Machine X X (difficult to switch) X (difficult to switch) Olympic or standard weight plates
XMark Adjustable Bench Attachment X X Olympic or standard weight plates

 

Sample Workout: Leg Extension Leg Curl Machine

Now that you have a better idea of which leg curl machine is best for you, try our sample workout. As you will see, this workout has exercises similar to leg extensions without a machine. Above all, our workout aims to provide a comprehensive leg workout.

So, if you are waiting for your leg extension machine to arrive to your home, do these workouts to improve your leg strength. Likewise, if you are not ready to purchase a leg extension curl machine at this time, you can still work on getting awesome, strong legs!

Leg Workout 101: Tailor Your Workout

Follow our step-by-step leg workout below. Since everyone has different strength goals, it is up to you to decide how much weight to add to these exercises. In general, those who want to increase muscle size need to do less repetitions per set, however, make sure to add more weight. On the other hand, if you are interested in toning and keeping your legs lean, do a higher number of repetitions with less weight.

Regardless of your goals, increasing the intensity of the exercise makes you work harder and may get you to your goals faster. For higher intensity, consider adding a physioball between your legs and/or an elastic resistance band around your knees for some of these exercises. Also, while some of these exercises require additional equipment, you may be able to revise these exercises to make them work with what you already have in your home. In general, if you don’t have dumbbells, add weight using water jugs, milk jugs, soup cans, and/or detergent canisters. Above all, get creative to get the most out of your workout!

Disclaimer: It is important that your doctor approves your desired workout routine. If you have a history of joint pain or leg injuries, make sure you obtain medical clearance for using a leg extension and/or curl machine. While avoidable, injury can occur from using heavy weight on leg machines.   

Exercise

Sets

Repetitions

Additional recommended equipment

Reverse Lunges 3 10 (each side) Dumbbells or Olympic weight plates
Deficit Bulgarian Split Squat 3 10 (each side) Dumbbells, weight plates (for added weight)

Weight bench or step platform (to stand on in order to get a deeper squat)

Step Ups 3 12 Dumbbells, weight plates

Weight bench or high step platform

Hack Squats 3 8 Max out on a leg press machine
Leg curls (lying or standing) 3 15 (each side) Dumbbells or a cable machine (if engaging in standing leg curls)
Alternative hamstring curl 3 10 Use a large exercise ball or TRX suspension straps

 

Before You Purchase

Leg extension leg curl machines focus solely on the quadriceps and/or hamstrings, making each and every repetition highly effective for working those muscles. By having a leg extension machine right in your own home, you are on your way to making your legs the best asset you’ve got!

Prior to purchasing a leg curl machine or leg extension machine (or a combination machine), make sure you know exactly what type of machine you are getting. It can sometimes be difficult to determine exactly what exercises you are getting due to inaccurate product images and/or vague product descriptions online. Above all, do your research before putting your hard-earned money into any fitness equipment.

Which type of leg machine are you interested in? The leg extension? The leg curl? In your opinion, is it worth it to have leg-specific machines in your home, or is something like a squat rack better since it works all different muscles? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

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