When it comes to leg growth and definition, many people often think that the only and best exercises one should perform are heavy squats and leg press. These two exercises are definitely some of the best for increasing mass on your legs, but it doesn’t mean that squats and leg press are the only exercises you should be performing.
It’s also important to remember that although one machine may be designed for one exercise, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use that machine in another form to shift the focus or tension you are applying to your legs in a different area.
Leg Machine Exercises
✓ Smith Machine
The Smith Machine is one of the best machines available for leg development. This machine can be used to perform 2 of my all-time favorite leg exercises for growth and definition. The first exercise would be the Sumo Squat. Since the smith machine is on a glide mechanism, it allows your balance to remain stable and the weight/bar to remain in a specific spot the entire time besides raising up and lowering.
For this exercise, begin with the bar over your shoulders/back as you perform any regular squat, however, kick your feet out in front of you. This will provide more pressure onto your heels as you begin to lower down into a squat. Perform a negative rep for about 4 seconds or so travelling down into the squat position to apply proper tension on your glutes. The more you can push through your heels on this the more glute activation you will stimulate with this exercise.
The Smith Machine is also great to perform assisted Sissy Squats on. Set the machine up with a bench or tall step underneath the bar. Stand on this step or bench and you will perform a squat starting in this position. However, you will want to travel all the way down as far as possible so that your knees are actually bending forward and below the bench or below parallel. This is going to create a greater stretch and tension on your quads. Pause at the bottom of the stretch for 1-2 seconds before pushing yourself back up for another rep. Extending this far down and keeping your hips forward is going to isolate your quads for this exercise greatly.
✓ Leg Press
The next best machine for legs is one we are all probably very familiar with, The Leg Press. The leg press, which often people only use in the same form every workout, can be used to isolate the quads, hamstrings and/or glutes depending on foot placement. For this, you will be targeting all parts of the legs in one working set. Begin with your feet as high on the platform as you can place them to engage more glutes in the pressing motion. Perform 10 reps or so and lower your feet to about the middle position. In the middle you are targeting more hamstrings.
Perform about 10 reps at this position before lowering your feet to the bottom of the platform. At the bottom of the platform, your toes should be the only things touching the base and your heels should be hanging off the bottom, this is to engage your quads more. By pressing through your toes and removing the heels from the exercise you activate more quad tissue. Your set should finish with 3 placements at 10 reps each for 30 reps in total before resting.
✓ Leg Extensions
Although the Leg Extensions machine won’t give you great size, it will help with giving your crazy definition in your quads. Set the machine up so your knees can be bent at 90 degrees over the edge. Using a comfortable weight that’s not too heavy you will kick your legs up as normal. However, instead of simply moving your legs up and down, kick them up as high as you can possibly raise them to engage as much quads as possible.
Pause the contraction for a static hold at the top of the rep for 1-2 seconds before lowering your legs back down. Here’s the real kicker, perform 3-4 second negatives on each rep so it will take 3-4 seconds to lower your legs back down fighting against gravity and the weight to increase the tension. Keep your knees pointed straight the entire time and point your feet so your toes are pointed out the entire time as well for each rep.
✓ Lying Leg Curls
Lying Leg Curls is one of the next best machines for increasing the contractions in your hamstring development. While lying down, raise the weight up to contract your hamstrings. Squeeze your hamstrings and glutes as hard as possible the entire time and pause at the top and keep squeezing.
Slowly lower the weight down for a 3-5 second negative and aim for about 15-20 reps in a set. The best part about lying leg curls is its one of the only exercises in which the same amount of tension remains constant and is equally applied on the eccentric and concentric movements which is why the development from leg curls is so significant for all.
Your legs contain some of the biggest muscles in your body, such as your quads and hamstrings. This means that after a big leg day it is vitally important that you eat enough protein to help your leg muscles recover and grow.
Whey protein is a fast absorbing protein source, making this the perfect protein powder for your post workout shake. Each serving contains 21 g of protein and 4.5 g of BCAAs to help muscle growth and recovery.
Known as the ‘bedtime protein’ this is a must-have supplement for anyone who trains regularly and wants to enhance their recovery. When you sleep you will starve your body of the nutrients required to repair muscle and this can lead to muscle breakdown. Taking one serving of casein before bed will provide 24 g of slow release protein to aid recovery and muscle growth.
Take Home Message
There you have it, the best machines for leg growth and development. Although many people may be sceptical about these exercises at first, I promise you that when done correctly with proper form and a full range of motion and pauses and squeezes on each contraction, you will begin to see how much more difficult it is. The stimulation you will feel from each pause and negative rep will be far greater compared to simply squatting traditionally for dozens of sets each workout.