Isolation exercises are a great way to target specific muscles. Isolation exercises also benefit you by working your muscles independently of the rest of your body, which helps with form and technique. The leg is composed of three major muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings and gastrocnemius. It is responsible for extending the hip and flexing the knee. Each part of the leg is composed of different groups of muscles and as such, isolation exercises for legs work different muscle parts.
Below are isolation exercises for legs that you can do to tone up your legs.
1. Leg extension machine
The leg extension is one of the isolation exercises that focuses on the quadriceps muscles and extends the knee. It is important to know that the movement should be slow, steady, and continuous so that maximum load can be put on the muscle and it can get the maximum contractions.
Here is how you do this exercise:
- Sit on the machine with your back against the pad and your feet under the roller pads.
- Grasp the handles on the sides of the machine.
- Slowly straighten your legs until they are fully extended.
- Flex your quadriceps at the top of the movement and hold for a count of one.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
A leg extension machine is best for those who want to develop the quadriceps muscles. If you are a bodybuilder you can use this machine because it helps in getting your legs bigger than it actually is. But this exercise shouldn’t be performed on a regular basis as it can create the risk of a knee injury. So it is better to consult a doctor or an expert trainer before doing this exercise.
2. Seated hamstring curl
A seated hamstring curl is one of the best exercises that you can ever do for your hamstrings. The hamstrings are made up of three different muscles which include long, short, and medial hamstrings. This isolation exercise will only target the medial hamstrings. There aren’t many exercises that target this muscle group. Hence, it is crucial to know how to do a seated hamstring curl.
To do seated hamstring curl:
- Sit on a hamstring curl machine with your knees bent and feet flat on the footpad.
- Adjust the machine so that the pad is in line with your mid-thigh.
- Grasp the handles and position your legs so that your heels are resting on the padded roller.
- Flex your hips and knees to curl the weight up towards your glutes.
- Pause for a count of two at the top of the curl.
- Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
The seated hamstring curl is one of the best isolation exercises that you can ever do for your hamstrings. Since this exercise targets the medial hamstrings, it will help you build your calves and glutes. The leg curl should always be performed properly. That being said, follow the instructions mentioned below carefully to get the perfect form right every time you perform it.
3. Lying hamstring curl
The lying hamstring curl is a fairly simple exercise. This exercise not only allows you to build the hamstrings but also improves balance and flexibility in the lower back region. The lying hamstring curl can be done with any weight or resistance and is one of the best exercises for developing total leg strength.
Here is how you do this exercise:
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Place a dumbbell between your ankles or if using a machine, hook your ankles under the padded lever.
- Slowly raise your heels toward your glutes, contracting your hamstrings as you go.
- Return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
The lying hamstring curl is a good exercise for strengthening the hamstrings. By using this exercise under any circumstance, you will be able to achieve proportional development in the lower part of the body. The lying hamstring curl can also be done without weights, as a warm-up or cool down for other leg exercises.
4. Calf raises
Calf raises can be a good isolation exercise for calf muscles. When you raise your body using only your calf you make them work harder, which is important for muscle growth. Calf raises are commonly used at the end of a workout, but should also be used during an intense calf workout. Because of that, you should use other forms of exercise as well, like jumping and running.
Here is how you do calf raises:
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing forward.
- Slowly raise your heels so you’re standing on your toes.
- Hold for a second, then lower your heels back to the starting position.
Calf raises are a pretty straightforward exercise and you can’t really go wrong with them. By adding them to your normal workout routine you will easily be able to add extra intensity to your calf training and this will lead to muscle growth. Also, they are excellent if you’re looking for ways of isolating the calf muscles by themselves.
5. Single leg extensions
Single leg extensions are a great exercise for both strength and hypertrophy in your quadriceps. The reason is, that it’s an isolation exercise that allows you to target the quads without other muscles helping out. It has a large range of motion, meaning the stretch and contraction are more apparent. It also means that if you do it right, you can really feel it working the quads.
To do this single leg extension:
- Start by sitting on a leg extension machine with your legs under the pads.
- Start with one leg and extend it fully, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat this for the desired number of repetitions, then switch legs.
Single leg extensions are an exercise that should be part of your quad routine. They allow you to target the quads while also working other parts of your legs that contribute to this muscle group. For the best results, keep your form strict and be sure to squeeze at the top of each rep.
Isolation exercises for the legs can not only help you improve your muscle tone, but they can also give you more definition to your legs. Doing isolation exercises for the muscles improves their appearance by causing them to bulge, making your legs look bigger and more defined. Be sure to incorporate isolation exercises for your legs into your workout routine as well as eat healthy to achieve the best results.