No doubt you’re always seeking value in whatever you do. You want value for your money when you shop, for example, or value for your time when you’re involved in an activity. Leg extension exercises can provide that value. When you perform leg extensions, you’re stretching your muscles, thereby increasing their flexibility and range of motion. At the same time, leg extensions will also strengthen your muscles if resistance is involved. Just remember that resistance doesn’t automatically mean you have to use a weight. Gravity, an exercise band, or your own body weight can provide suitable resistance as well.
Stability Ball -- Reverse Extensions
Balance face-down on top of a stability ball by placing your legs together with your toes touching the floor, then drop your hands to the floor with your palms down. Your head and neck should be about parallel with the floor and your arms flexed slightly at the elbows and set shoulder-width apart. Position your hips on top of the ball.
Exhale and pull your abdominal muscles in. Keep your abs tight even when you inhale.
Exhale again as you lift and extend your legs. At the top of your movement your body should be straight from your shoulders to your toes; don’t lift your legs any farther. Keep your legs together at all times.
Inhale as you return to the starting position with your toes touching the floor.
Resistance Band -- Standing Leg Extension
Attach one end of a resistance band to a stable point and the other to your ankle. Face away from the anchor point with your feet about hip-width apart. The band should be horizontal but with plenty of give in either direction, both forward and reverse.
Stand erect, tighten your abs and lift your leg off the floor so you’re balanced on the leg that’s not attached to the band.
Exhale as you move your foot forward until your leg is fully extended and your knee straight. Your heel should point toward the floor.
Inhale and lower your leg slowly to the starting position. Perform the desired number of reps, then repeat the exercise with your opposite leg.
Body Weight -- Arm-Leg Extension
Lie face-down on the floor with your legs straight.
Extend one arm in front of you with your thumb pointed up. Bend your other elbow and place your hand beneath your chin.
Exhale as you lift your extended arm and the opposite leg at the same time, while keeping your hips in contact with the floor. Inhale when you lower your limbs to the floor.
Perform the desired number of reps, then repeat the exercise with your other arm and leg. Make the exercise more challenging by beginning with both arms extended, then lift both arms and legs simultaneously.
- American Council on Exercise: Stability Ball Reverse Extensions
- American Council on Exercise: Standing Leg Extension
- Anatomy of Exercise; Pat Manocchia
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.