Leg Extension vs. Leg Curl: Battle of the Leg Developers

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leg curl machine

Are you looking to build the ultimate home gym? If so, then investing in effective leg exercise machines is a must. Leg exercises are one of the keys to developing your posterior chain and increasing overall strength, so it's important to take your time finding the right equipment. Even if you have a reverse hyper machine or a set of Olympic weights, you're missing a crucial piece of equipment that can take your leg development even further.

Leg extension and leg curl machines are an important part of any fitness aficionado's space. These machines help isolate your hamstrings, quads, and can add variety to your training routine. In this article, we'll give you our recommendations for the best leg extension machines and leg curl machines so you can level up your leg workouts and build more muscle. We'll also discuss the difference between leg extensions and leg curls. There are pros and cons to both of these exercises, and we’ll discuss in detail how to decide which is best for your goals.

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Leg Extension vs. Leg Curl

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Leg Extension

Leg Curl

What Are Leg Extensions

Leg extensions are a type of exercise that targets the quadriceps muscles in the front of your thighs. The movement involves straightening your knee against resistance, which can come in the form of weights or a cable machine.

Leg extensions are generally used by athletes and bodybuilders, but anyone looking to improve the strength and size of their legs can benefit from this exercise.

What We Like About Leg Extensions

  • Great for developing your quadriceps
  • You can train each quad individually to correct imbalances
  • Not a technically difficult exercise, which makes it great for beginners

What We Don't Like About Leg Extensions

  • Leg extensions don't work any other muscle groups, so they're not ideal if you're pressed for time and need to train multiple muscle groups at once
  • It puts your knees at risk for injuries
  • It doesn't improve the overall strength of your legs

Our Favorite Leg Extension Machines

Here are a few excellent home-gym-ready leg extension machines from our favorite strength equipment brands.

Titan Fitness Leg Extension and Curl Machine

Titan Fitness Leg Extension and Curl Machine


  • Size: 39"H x 42"W x 36"D
  • Features: 7 seat depths, 3 seat angles, included leg-curl option


This machine allows you to perform leg curls and leg extensions from the same seated position. With its adjustable thigh pad design, getting in and out of the machine is a breeze. We like that the machine offers adjustable seat depth and angle positions, so you can fit the machine to your size. Additionally, it features a rotary leg clamp mechanism with pop pins to easily switch between leg curls and leg extensions.

The counterbalance weight post provides stability without the need for a permanent mount, and the rubber grip handles add comfort and stability. The Leg Extension and Curl Machine V2 is compatible with Olympic-sized weight plates and comes with a barbell spring clip and bolt-down holes to anchor to your concrete floors. Finally, the HeftyGrip Vinyl upholstery adds a sleek finishing touch that is easy to clean and maintain.

What We Like

  • Multiple seat-adjustment options
  • Can convert to a leg curl machine
  • Pull-pin mechanism to easily switch between extensions and curls

What We Don't Like

  • You have to buy weight plates separately
  • Weight capacity of 300 lbs. limits who can use the machine

BUY: Titan Fitness Leg Extension and Curl Machine

Power Systems Pro Maxima Raptor Leg Extension

Pro Maxima Raptor Leg Extension


  • Size: 62"L x 42"W x 68"H
  • Features: Weight stack shield, rubber hand grips, non-obstructive base frame for easy entry/exit


Looking to exhaust your quads? The Power Systems Pro Maxima's Raptor Leg Extension could be your next favorite leg day companion. With its two-inch by four-inch eleven-gauge steel weight stack frame housing, this machine is built for power and durability. It features a form-fitted outer weight stack shield and inner protective shields for maximum safety. Additional features include an ABS seat and back protective dishes, seamless upholstery, natural rubber hand grips, and a five-position sliding seat adjustment.

It also has a low-profile seat design and a non-obstructive base frame, so entering and exiting the machine is effortless. It includes an oversized footplate with an EZ grip handle, as well as bright red pull knobs to easily select a suitable weight for your leg extensions. And to top it off, there's a 300-pound weight stack that's driven by a ¼-inch nylon-coated aircraft cable, so you have plenty of weight options to choose from.

What We Like

  • 300 lb. weight stack is ideal for beginner to advanced users
  • Oversized foot plate for safety
  • 5-position seat adjustment makes it ideal for users of varying sizes
  • The non-obstructive base frame makes it easy to enter and exit the machine

What We Don't Like

  • Quite pricey
  • It is heavy and large, which makes it less ideal for small spaces

BUY: Power Systems Pro Maxima Raptor Leg Extension

Life Fitness Cybex Ion Series Leg Extension / Leg Curl

Life Fitness Cybex Ion Series Leg Extension


  • Size: 63"L x 40"W x 53"H
  • Features: Slip-resistant molded rubber foot platforms, non-absorbing and wear-and-tear-resistant hand grips, Lifeband Resistance™ System


The Life Fitness Cybex Leg Extension machine can make your exercise routine more efficient than ever. It has easy-to-follow instructions that illustrate how to properly train your muscles, making it ideal for those just starting out as well as seasoned pros looking to work on their form.

Featuring a combination of cables, pulleys, and fiberglass-impregnated nylon wheels with sealed bearings, this machine offers maximum stability. It also features full front-weight stack shrouds and pulley covers for extra safety. The 11-gauge steel frame also ensures durability throughout the life of the machine.

What We Like

  • Roller pads adjust to 4 positions
  • Hand grips for added stability
  • Molded foam cushions are contoured for extra comfort
  • Excellent warranty on the frame and components

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive
  • Max user weight of 300 lbs. may limit who can use the machine

BUY: Life Fitness Leg Extension Machine

What Are Leg Curls

Leg curls are an exercise used to target and strengthen the hamstring muscles. This is a common resistance training exercise that can be done with a leg curl machine or cable machine.

Leg curls require you to curl or flex your lower leg against resistance, either in a lying, seated, or standing position. Doing leg curls regularly can help develop strength, power, and endurance in your hamstrings and calves.

What We Like About Leg Curls

  • Great for developing your hamstrings
  • It is a beginner-friendly exercise
  • Also works the calf muscles and glutes

What We Don't Like About Leg Curls

  • May cause a muscular imbalance between your quads and hamstrings
  • Doesn't improve overall leg strength and size
  • Can put you at risk for hamstring and lower back injuries

Our Favorite Leg Curl Machines

Here are a few excellent home-gym-ready leg curl machines from our favorite strength equipment brands.

Rogue Fitness Westside Standing Leg Curl Machine

Rogue Fitness Westside Standing Leg Curl Machine


  • Size: 44"H x 47"W x 25"D
  • Features: Diamond-tread steel foot platform, thick foam thigh pad, loadable weight post


If you're looking for a leg curl machine to complete your home gym, the Rogue Fitness Westside Standing Leg Curl Machine is a superior option. Its innovative design was scientifically developed to ensure proper form while performing leg curls. It is packed with cutting-edge features, has a solid, welded frame, foam/rubber grip handles, and a large vinyl-covered roller pad that provides maximum comfort and durability.

It is made from a heavy-gauge steel frame with a diamond-tread steel foot platform and adjustable handles for a safe and customized fit. Plus, with a four-step electrostatic powder coat finish in black, it is certain to match any home gym or workout space. Lastly, its UHMW plastics will protect your surfaces, so your flooring will remain in good condition.

What We Like

  • Heavy-gauge steel frame for stability and durability
  • Auto-adjust pivoting roller for smooth movement
  • Diamond-tread platform for secure footing during your workout

What We Don't Like

  • Resistance needs to be purchased separately
  • No warranty

BUY: Rogue Fitness Westside Standing Leg Curl Machine

Titan Fitness Lying Prone Leg Curl Machine

Titan Fitness Lying Prone Leg Curl Machine


  • Size: 60"L x 36"W x 37.75"H
  • Features: Adjustable foot rollers, compatible with Olympic-sized weights, rubber grip handles


The Titan Lying Prone Leg Curl Machine allows you to perform leg curls and extensions with the same bench for an efficient, intense workout. This machine features rubber handles for superior grip and is compatible with Olympic-sized weight plates, so you can load it up with your existing plates. The adjustable foot rollers make it suitable for users of all sizes, and, if necessary, you can even bolt this machine down into concrete for extra stability.

What We Like

  • Adjustable foot rollers make the machine useful for more users
  • Rubber grip handles for added stability
  • Bolt-down holes if you'd like to anchor your machine

What We Don't Like

  • Limited warranty available
  • Weight capacity of 300 lbs. may mean some users won't be able to use it

BUY: Titan Fitness Lying Prone Leg Curl Machine

Life Fitness Cybex Ion Series Seated Leg Curl / Extension

Life Fitness Cybex Ion Series Seated Leg Curl


  • Size: 70"L x 46"W x 53”H
  • Features: 202.5 lb. weight stack, 3 curl positions, 20-degree seat angle positions


The Life Fitness Cybex Ion Seated Leg Curl/Extension machine is a beast for hamstring workouts. Boasting an efficient, space-saving design and adjustable components, this machine is ideal for athletes of all shapes and sizes. You only need one hand to switch between extensions and curls, and it features adjustable tibia and thigh pads for a great fit.

You can lock out in three positions for both exercises, giving you the freedom to adjust your range of motion depending on what feels best for your body. An improved 20° seat angle ensures maximum muscle engagement, and the multiple back pad adjustments make it suitable for most heights.

What We Like

  • 3 extension positions and 3 curl positions for a wide range of motion
  • Multiple position adjustments for the backrest and tibia pads
  • Work arm makes it ideal for a wide range of users
  • Weight stack of 202.5 lbs. means both beginners and more advanced users can use the machine

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive
  • Weight capacity of 300 pounds limits who can use the machine

BUY: Life Fitness Cybex Ion Series Seated Leg Curl/Extension Machine

FAQs About Leg Extensions vs. Leg Curls

Is leg extension the same as leg curl?

No, leg extensions and leg curls are two different exercises that target different muscle groups. Leg extensions involve moving your lower leg against a weight or lever to extend the knee joint, whereas a leg curl involves bending your lower leg to flex the knee joint. While both exercises strengthen the legs, they have slightly different functions.

Should I do leg extensions or hamstring curls first?

It depends on your goals and what type of workout you want. If your focus is hamstring development, it's best to start with leg curls. If you're focusing on quad development, then you should start with leg extensions. To make sure you’re getting the most from these exercises, pay attention to proper form.

Are leg extensions worth it?

Yes, leg extensions are definitely worth it. They target your quadriceps to build strength and size. They can be used as part of an overall workout plan or simply as a standalone exercise for anyone who wants to isolate their quads.

Are leg extensions as good as squats?

No, leg extensions are not as good as squats when it comes to overall lower-body strengthening. While leg extensions can help build strength in the quads, they don't work the hamstrings and calves as squats do. Squats also work multiple muscle groups at once, which provides a more comprehensive workout for the entire lower body. That being said, leg extensions are still a great exercise to include in your routine, as they can help you focus on your quad development.