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Your Definitive Guide to Leg Extensions

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Your Definitive Guide to Leg Extensions

If you’ve ever been in a big-box gym before, you’ve seen plenty of guys doing classic leg exercises like squats and lunges and deadlifts. But there’s a good chance you’ve also seen a host of leg-training machines, one of which seems simple enough.

It’s called the leg extension machine, and depending on who you ask, it’s either an exercise that you should avoid altogether, or it’s a fundamental move you should do in every leg workout. The machine’s in just about every corner of fitness you can think of, from high school weight rooms to physical therapy clinics to big-box gyms — and very often, it has a line of people waiting to use it, too.

And why not, right? After all the movement is simple enough. You sit in the seat, let your calves loop around the leg roller, and straighten your knees, flexing your quads. It burns when you do it, and the burn is always good, right?

Well, sort of. Truth be told, the leg extension has a purpose, but that purpose isn’t for everyone. Depending on your goals, you’ll want to hammer the leg extension a few times a week, or sit it out entirely. Let’s break down the how and why.

What It Does

The leg extension is an exercise designed to focus almost exclusively on your quads. Plenty of guys want big quads, which is why this machine gets major traffic. And your quadriceps, a blend of four muscles (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis) are responsible for leg extension, the straightening of the knee. The vastus muscles originate at the femur, where the rectus femoris is attached at the hip; the rectus femoris is also responsible for hip extension.

The leg extension offers an exercise that relies on torque to move a weight. While the quads are extending the knee, the weight is resting just on top of the ankle joint. In the same way that a lighter weight will crush your deltoids during a lateral raise because of how far the weight is from the muscle that’s moving it, the placement of the load, near your ankles, pushes your quads, which are straightening the knee, to work.

A History Lesson

Unlike most of the leg exercises on today’s fitness landscape, the leg extension isn’t considered “functional.” Instead, it’s an isolation move that has its roots well before CrossFit, and these days, it’s often criticized.

It’s Descended From Bodybuilding

If you’ve ever been to CrossFit, you won’t see anyone in the room doing leg extensions. You won’t see them in HIIT classes either, and disciplines of functional fitness often malign the exercise.

Instead, this move has its roots in bodybuilding. Bodybuilders have been adding leg extensions into their workouts since Arnold Schwarznenegger was training on Venice Beach. I also bought into the exercise when I started out in the gym. I mean, if Arnold does it, I should too!

Bodybuilders, however, have a specific purpose for doing the exercise. First off, they’re training purely for aesthetics, not performance, and a well-rounded set of quads is critical to a good physique. And earning size on a specific muscle (as opposed to your entire body) often requires you to focus on “chasing the pump.” (Not familiar with the pump? Here’s your rundown.)

The pump has its purpose. There’s some scientific truth to the influx of blood going to an area, and the hormonal response that follow building muscle. Most bodybuilding routines are rooted in pushing specific muscles to failure to do that, and the leg extension, which isolates the quads, forcing them to work with little assistance from other muscles, is a perfect example of that.

Rehab And Function

How often in your day do you have to extend your knee with maximum strength under load? Oh, never? That figures, which is why the leg extension is also popular and useful in physical therapy clinics. If you’ve ever had knee surgery (I have), you know that the quadriceps and rectus femoris often “fall asleep” in the days after surgery, and they need to essentially be “retrained”.

If other muscles can do the work, then the quads and rectus can’t experience that retraining. So the leg extension machine, because it isolates the quads and eliminates other muscles’ involvement, plays a critical role in rehab. The concept of getting the quads moving and the knee joint back to its hinging motion makes sense.

This makes it a good starting point for any rehab, although you can only take that so far. In the long run, your quads aren’t a muscle meant to work in isolation. So you can use the leg extension to “wake up” your quads after a surgery or traumatic injury, but at some point, it needs to learn to fire collaboratively with other muscles.

Should You Do It?

Strong young man doing legs exercise in the gym

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The leg extension just might be a fit in your workout; it all depends on your goals. If you are looking to really dial in to building a set of legs to impress the world, your will want to use the leg extension. If you have other goals, however, you may not want this exercise.

Do Extensions If:

You Want Massive Quads

Then you want to do leg extensions. Again, you’re blasting your quads in isolation, and they’re going to flush with blood. And if you just want pure size in your quads, there is a benefit to getting a pump.

But that doesn’t mean you just need to do leg extensions. If you’re smart and you want big quads, you’ll utilize that pump more creatively. Start with leg extensions, then tap into moves that more closely mirror the everyday actions of your knee. Try this superset, which I love: Do 20 leg extensions, followed by 10 walking lunges with each leg. Do 4 sets.

You Need More Muscular Awareness

One key to building your physique: Taking the muscle through concentric and eccentric contractions. One major benefit to the leg extension is that you can control the movement and focus on your quad. That means you can move with intent, slowing down the contraction at your pace and slowing it at certain phases. That can be done with squats and lunges, but it’s not quite as natural, or as easy to focus on your quads.

Skip Extensions If:

You Want to Avoid Joint Stress

Especially if you already have sore knees, you may want to skip this exercise. Again, the placement of the load relative to your knee creates a lot of torque, so this move sometimes isn’t worth it, especially if you’re not prepping for a bodybuilding competition.

Athleticism Is Your Goal

If you’re trying to run, jump, or play sports better, this isn’t a move for you. Most real-life leg actions don’t solely involve knee extension; even kicking a soccer ball, for example, starts with an aggressive drive of the hip, not the knee. If you’re training for a sport, ditch leg extensions in favor of moves like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and step-ups.

Common Mistakes

Muscular man doing legs workout in fitness club

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If you decided to do leg extensions, be careful with how you use and execute the exercise. Avoid these errors.

Too Much Weight

The leg extension as an exercise relies on the torque involved in moving the weight, so you don’t need to load the machine up to the max to get benefit. While the quads are extending the knee the weight is resting just on top of the ankle joint.

So you can benefit from not using too much weight. And maxing out the machine can have serious issues. In general, the further a weight is from the operating joint, the more the muscle and the joint have to deal with the torque. That means you will “feel” leg extensions in the muscle, but, if you use too much weight, you’ll also stress your knee joint over time. Be careful with throwing weight around; you want to protect that knee joint.

Imbalanced Training

Leg extensions solely develop your quads, so in the long term, if they’re the main focus of your leg workouts, your legs will gradually develop imbalances. As your quads get stronger, you need to make sure to strengthen your hamstrings, too; if you don’t, you could easily develop knee issues or place yourself at risk for knee injuries when playing sports.

If you do leg extensions, offset them with hamstring exercises such as Romanian deadlifts and even leg curls, too; aim to do 2 sets of leg curls or Romanian deadlifts for every 1 set of leg extensions that you do.

No Multijoint Leg Training

Remember how your legs work! Hamstrings, glutes, and quads are meant to work in concert, as are ankle, knee, and hip joints. Even bodybuilders who are chasing massive quads work in other exercises, using squats, deadlifts, and lunges as the backbone of their workouts. That doesn’t change even if you’re doing leg extensions. Keep the fundamental leg exercises in your workouts! (And if you’re not sure how to go about the squat, check out the video below.)

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Do You Get Money for Winning a Grammy? — Do Awards Come With Money

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60th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show

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While the glitz and the glam of the Grammys, and other award shows like it, seem very alluring, the night is also a stressful one for the musicians, producers, and songwriters nominated for awards. Getting all dressed up to find out that you didn’t win that gold statuette is probably a bummer, and while there are still plenty of popular, talented artists that have never won a Grammy, most artists dream of winning one.

This understandable thirst for a Grammy has led some fans to wonder if there’s also a monetary prize for landing yourself a Grammy. Worldwide acclaim and a hefty check? Sounds good to me. Here’s what we know about the money behind Grammy awards.

Do artists get money for winning a Grammy?

The short answer is no: Artists, producers, and/or songwriters do not get a check or monetary amount for winning an award. But what they do get, however, is a whole lot of recognition, and they’ll forever be known as “the Grammy award-winning singer _____.”

But even though The Recording Academy doesn’t give out physical checks with statuettes, Grammy winners still report an upward tick in their concert ticket sales and producer fees after they snag an award.

The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Press Room

Adele with her six Grammys in 2012.

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In 2012, Forbes sampled a number of performers and producers, and they all showed a “Grammy Bounce” of at least 55% in concert ticket sales and producer fees in the year after a Grammy win. David Banner, a rapper/producer who won a Grammy for his work on Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III album, said that his producer fee went from $50,000 to $100,000+ after his win.

And acts can also score more money in their touring numbers. In the years after winning their first Grammy, Bruno Mars’ average nightly gross went from $130,000 to $202,000, and Esperanza Spalding’s jumped from $20,000 to $32,000. And Taylor Swift? Her nightly gross soared from $125,000 to $600,000 in 2010—a 380% increase.

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Who Is Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey’s Grammy-Nominated Producer?

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  • Jack Antonoff produced and co-wrote Lana Del Rey’s album Norman F**king Rockwell!
  • He’s also helped Lorde, Taylor Swift, and St. Vincent make great albums of their own.
  • Antonoff is nominated for three Grammys—two alongside Lana, and one on his own.

    Thinking about what’s going on behind the scenes isn’t always the first reaction when someone gets really into a new album. For example, when listening to Lana Del Rey’s amazing Norman F**king Rockwell! (up for two Grammys this year), you’re definitely hearing her voice, thinking about her lyrics, and most likely have an ideanof what she looks like. But when you see her surrounded at her Grammy seat you might not know who these people sitting around her are. Word to the wise: these are the people who helped Lana make that album that you can’t stop thinking about. In this case, that someone, sitting right next to her, is Jack Antonoff, and Ms. Del Rey is far from the first pop artist he’s helped make a great album.

    Antonoff himself is nominated for three Grammys; two alongside Del Rey, for Norman F**cking Rockwell (Album of the Year and Song of the Year), and also the Producer of the Year honor, by himself. In addition to Lana, he also worked with Taylor Swift, Kevin Abstract (of Brockhampton), and his own group, Red Hearse this year.

    Even prior to this year, Antonoff has become one of the most popular producers in the industry. He’s co-written and produced incredible albums for artists like Lorde (Melodrama), Taylor Swift (Lover), and St. Vincent (Masseduction), giving their music a distinct pop sound that makes songs feel fully fleshed out but with a quality that makes listeners almost always want to sing along.

    At first, Del Rey was skeptical about working with Antonoff because of the reason we just outlined above: he had achieved so much success with other artists in a similar genre. “I wasn’t in the mood to write,” Del Rey said in an interview with Billboard. “[Antonoff] wanted me to meet him in some random diner, and I was like, ‘You already worked with everyone else; I don’t know where there’s room for me.’”

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    Eventually, though, he played her something different enough that she was able to move forward and make Norman F**cking Rockwell!, what she described as “10 minutes of weird, atmospheric riffs.”

    Where some producers have a very specific sound—for example, the legendary Rick Rubin brings out the same harsh, rock sound with everyone from Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Beastie Boys to Kanye West—Antonoff’s goal is to work with artists to create an album that represents the very best version of them.

    “I like to be looking at the North Star with someone, and we’re both trying to get there,” he told the L.A. Times of his collaborations. “It’s a glimmer at first…. Every day we inch forward.”

    In addition to his work as a producer, Antonoff has also spent time as a member in a number of different groups. He leads his own project, called Bleachers, and also has a side group called Red Hearse. From 2008-2015, he played guitar and a number of other instruments in the band fun., which had hits like “Some Nights” and “We Are Young.” When Antonoff was dating actress and writer Lena Dunham, he debuted a fun. song called “Sight of the Sun” during the credits of her HBO show, Girls.

    Antonoff’s idiosyncrasies as a producer and songwriter have helped to make him one of the more interesting figures in the entire music industry, and he’s been a staple at the last few Grammy ceremonies. Del Rey’s thinking before working with him was a fair line of thinking: with so many great pop albums already in the can, how can there be anything left? But with each succeeding album he continues to prove that line of thinking wrong. This year, it was Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift, and one logical question remains: who could be next?

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Calum Scott Shows Off Toned Physique in Instagram Progress Pic

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English singer and songwriter Calum Scott has shared progress photos from his fitness transformation on Instagram, ahead of pushing himself to get in even greater shape in 2020. The pictures, which blew up online after Scott posted them this week, were taken during his Only Human tour in 2018, and show noticeable results, with him becoming leaner, with visible six-pack abs, more defined pecs, and toned arms.

Scott, who rose to fame on the reality TV competition show Britain’s Got Talent in 2015 and is best known for his acoustic cover version of the pop song ‘Dancing On My Own’ by Robyn, also opened up about his struggle with staying motivated on his fitness journey, especially when it comes to keeping his nutrition on point.

“I always yo-yo with my weight because I love wine and carbs 😬,” he said, “but I learned that that’s ok. It’s about making sure you train hard and eat well, then the treats are well deserved.”

Scott didn’t go into detail about how he got so shredded while on tour; maybe he took a leaf out of rapper Kevin Gates’ book, and worked out prior to every live show to get pumped up before performing. He added in the caption that he’s looking to build on his 2018 gains and pursue his fitness goals throughout the year ahead. “This year I am going to push myself harder than ever before,” he said. “Who’s getting fit in 2020?”

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