By: Nicola Joyce
Home Gym Hack: How To Do Kettlebell Leg Extensions
MuscleSquad fitness expert Carl Jeffers shows us how to do legit leg extensions with just a bench and a kettlebell.
No leg extension machine? No problem. You can still work those wheels and build serious quad shape. Check out this amazing training hack from MuscleSquad’s resident expert Carl Jeffers.
Home gym equipment for leg extensions:
How to do kettlebell leg extensions
Set the bench up on an incline (so the back is at a slight angle, allowing you to lean back a bit). Have a light/medium weight kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Sit on the bench so your left leg is slightly off to the side, with that foot firmly on the ground. Your right knee will be on the edge of the front of the bench.
Now place the foam roller under your right knee (to elevate the leg a bit) and hook the kettlebell handle over your right foot.
You know what’s coming next… squeeze your right quad muscles as you extend at the knee to straighten the leg and lift that kettlebell up. Do 8-12 reps, then switch to the other leg and do it all over again.
Why use the foam roller?
Do you really need to add the foam roller under your knee? Well, you could do this exercise without it, but that bit of height makes all the difference. As you know, a gym leg extension machine is set on a slight angle, so your quads are angled upwards. That’s what the foam roller does when you set up a DIY leg extension using a bench. The extra height allows you to put extra load through those working quad muscles.
Why we like this leg extension variation
Apart from being a really smart home-gym hack, this leg extension variation has a lot of benefits. The foam roller puts the working leg at a great angle so you can really work with active muscles. And the weight of the kettlebell on your foot means there’s nowhere to hide (you’ve got to actively control the weight during every part of the movement). Finally, we really like the fact that you’ve got to keep your toes pointed to keep the kettlebell on your foot. That adds extra contraction to the quad muscle and makes this exercise hit different!
Which muscles does kettlebell leg extension work?
Leg extensions work the front of your upper legs – the quadriceps (or quads). Your quads have four muscles: the rectus femoris (the biggest bit in the middle of your thigh), the vastus lateralis (the outer bit of the thigh), the vastus intermedius (at the top) and the vastus medialis (the inner bit of the thigh).
How many sets and reps of kettlebell leg extension
Leg extensions are best thought of as an accessory move for quads. And don’t forget, you’ll be limited by how much weight you can hold on your foot. So you’re not going to be doing 50kg+ leg extensions here.
Carl says it’s best to aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps (each side), using a moderate weight. You can get more out of every rep by slowing down the tempo and really squeezing your quads at the top.
Superset these with Bulgarian split squats if you dare!
3 tips for great leg extension technique
Hold onto the bench
As the weight gets heavier, hold around the edges of the bench to keep your body straight and secure.
Point your toes upwards
Using a kettlebell for leg extension will force you to flex at the ankle and point your toes to the ceiling, which will engage more of the quads muscles.
Squeeze each rep
Slow it down and pause at the top of each rep to get the most work out of your kettlebell leg extensions.
Need home gym equipment? Check out our full range of fitness kit designed for home gym set ups.