Danny Hester shares his guide for the most effective way to perform leg extensions.

Danny Hester is not only a former Classic Physique Olympia champion. He is also a high profile trainer who has helped celebrities prepare for movie roles such as Charlie Sheen and Jean Claude Van Damme. That makes him a valuable source of information when it comes to tips and tactics to improve your workout regimen. In our latest GI Exclusive, Danny Hester breaks down his leg extension exercise guide including variations that can take you to the next level.

On the surface, exercises using machines seem pretty simple. They are designed to help you keep proper form while also lifting heavy weight. But that doesn’t mean you should simply go into autopilot when performing exercises using machines. Bodybuilders and other high level athletes have perfected a variety of tips and variations that can be used on machines to push your workouts even further.

This holds true for Leg Extensions. A rather simple exercise but one that Danny Hester believes can be a powerful exercise in your arsenal with a few tweaks. In the video above, Danny Hester not only shares a few vital tips to improve the traditional leg extension exercise – but also shares a unique leg workout variation to more directly target certain muscles and improve your physique.

Danny Hester’s Leg Extension Exercise Tips

Before jumping into the more advanced variation of the leg extension, Danny Hester breaks down small but vital tips to make sure you are getting the most out of the traditional exercise. These are little details that you should focus on perfecting to get the most out of every workout.

Danny Hester suggests warming up first with lighter weight. This helps stretch the knees a bit and avoiding too much pressure to fast on them. Knee damage and injury is very common among most adults – so it’s important to be careful while performing exercises like these.

Some Leg Extension machines let you adjust the angle of the bar, or the range of motion, for your reps. If this is possible, Danny suggests lowering the range of motion for the warm ups.

After you warm up, increase weight and also range of motion if possible. For more advanced lifters, Danny Hester personally likes to go with a sharper range of motion on the Leg Extension machine. To avoid this putting too much pressure on his knees, he pulls his legs out to a slightly wider angle. This brings more of the pressure into his inner thighs.

Now that you’re set up, simply lift your legs up to the full range of motion set on the machine. Danny Hester always suggests squeezing “like you’re posing” for each rep for best results. You should also slightly hold at the top of each rep – but not too long to avoid putting unneeded pressure on your knees.

Lastly, Danny Hester also suggests placing your hands on your outer upper thighs. This helps you focus more on each rep, squeezing, and keeping your form correct. It gives you more of a mind-muscle connection.

Danny Hester’s Leg Extension Variation

Danny Hester likes to focus on the upper sweep of his quads. That’s where his leg extension variation comes in. To bring more emphasis on his outer sweep, Danny Hester performs leg extensions with his hips up.

To do this, you can push the seat back much farther than you would usually go – perhaps even all the way back. This creates more of a declined angle when you sit. Then set the range of motion (if possible) to a 45 degree angle.

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Now as you are sitting on the adjusted seat with your legs in place, pull your hips up and start performing the exercise movement. This brings more of a pull from your outer upper quads. For a more relatable reference, Danny states that this variation is similar to doing a “sissy squat.”

This variation requires much more focus on form, as you can no longer rely on the natural support of the seat to keep your back straight. When pulling your waist up, it’s very important to maintain a stable form and not slump down while performing the exercise.

Wrap up

Though the leg extension machine leaves little room for adjusting form and movement, Danny Hester has devised a variation and provided important tips to bring the exercise to the next level. To follow along in more detail, watch Danny Hester’s full GI Exclusive workout video guide above.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.