Do Leg Extensions Belong in a Museum?

Not long ago, this was to at least some degree, acceptable in a gym.

Today we either laugh, cringe, or scratch our heads in wonderment when we see it (in an image alone).

And what happened when this exercise fell out of favor?

As far as I am aware, I am far too young to even potentially remember the transition period. Heck, it probably disappeared long before I was born.

But what did that transition period look like? Certainly people didn’t stop doing this exercise all at once, all across the world.

And as absurd as it looks to us, I’m sure very few people got laughed at doing this. The same way people don’t get laughed at today (at least in person) doing 50 person “group fitness” classes together, that are equally absurd.

Heck, those people pat each other on the back and are eager to stay for the very next class — I know, I used to teach a jump rope version.

After all, who needs rest, recovery,  and more than a bit O education.

I ask this question about leg extensions for a number of reasons.

The one that’s been on my mind today is the following :

If motorized resistance is utilized to mimic a selectorized leg extension machine, then at full extension, the resistance, and internal pressure placed on the knee (from the machine), is absolutely zero.

Which makes me wonder if “leg extensions” on a gravity based machine of any kind, type, or fashion, are simply that : a product of designing machines that utilize gravity for resistance.

This is important because even if a person were absolutely contracting their muscles at 100% of physical and mental effort, that resistance (from the machine) would by function of the body, drop to ZERO, at full extension (in this specific instance of a motorized machine that mimics modern leg extension machines, selectorized or otherwise).

What I’m saying here is that any resistance placed on the legs in this position, is a by product of designing machines in the context and scope of depending on gravity for resistance.

I suspect very strongly that it was never intentional to actually have any resistance on the legs in this position. It just sorta happened, and machine designers kept on doing it.

Because its “always” been done that way.

No one ever stopped and said


At least not until Bill DeSimone did in this video.

At the very least, it seems that resistance in full extension, minimal or tremendous, was incidental, not intentional, independent of whether or not it is respective of the bio-mechanics.

Although considering how long the catch phrase “full range of motion” has been trending, I have little doubt that any whisper of concern on this point, was easy to dismiss in years gone by.

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at and

4 Responses to Do Leg Extensions Belong in a Museum?

  1. Ronin October 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    I’d highly appreciate any suggestions on how to rebuild leg muscles after ligament repair surgery in the knee.


    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

      Bill Desimone recommended this book to me :

      Framework for the Knee.

      I would in turn recommend it, although I would also be highly selective about what you take away from the book. Some good, some bad.

      What exactly did you have done? “Ligament repair” can mean a lot of things.


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    […] extensions, especially when the VMO needs to be strengthened. Personally, I suspect the exercise belongs in a museum, that no one short of amputees should be doing it, and that it really has nothing to do with […]

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