Leg press is a legs workout focusing quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus (butt) muscles.
You will find two types of leg press machine:
- Standard horizontal leg press which you lie (almost) flat on your back.
- 45 degree leg press machine. This one gets your body reclines at an angle and the leg press will be in upward diagonal direction.
Regardless of the types of leg press machine, whether it is the flat or recline one, the following steps apply.
- Do not put any weight on the leg press machine first.
- Sit on the machine with your back and head against the padded support.
- Place feet on the floor plate with shoulder width to ensure the weight is equally distributed.
- Ensure heels are flat.
- When you are in the squat position, the legs should form an angle of about 90 degrees at the knee with a little variation either way as long as the heels sit flat on the plate. Your knees should not extend past your toes.
- If your knees are too close to your chest or you are to far away, you have to adjust the seat so that when you push out, you can extend fully until your knees are slightly bent.
- Grasp the handles.
- Keep your abdominal muscles contracted.
- Push the platform away with heels and forefoot. Extend your knees. Your head and back should be against the seat during this movement.
- Do not lock your knees. In other words, your knees are slightly bent and not fully straight.
- Slowly return the foot plate to starting position.
- Assuming the position is correct, now only you put the weight on the machine.
- Do 3 sets with 8 to 12 repetitions each set.
- Start with light weight.
- If you place your feet slightly higher on platform, the workout emphasizes the butt muscle.
- If you place your feet slightly lower on platform, the workout stresses more on thighs.
Leg Press or Squat, Which One Is Better?
You may notice that leg press is actually an assisted squat exercise. The technique uses is very similar to a squat. The key difference between squat and recline leg press is that with leg press, you can take on large poundage. I was told that Ronnie Coleman is able to leg press 2300 (about 1043 kilogram). You may think that the larger weight equals more muscle gains. Not really. The increase in weight is because of the 45 degree angle mechanical advantage. Also, because the machine supports your upper body, including your back, you will be able to press very heavy weight compared to squats.
The advantage of leg press over squat is that the back will not be stressed that much in leg press. For serious body builder who wants powerful legs, squat is still highly recommended because of these few reasons:
- Squat involve more muscles. Squat helps training the core muscles, including the abdominal muscles.
- Squat is closer to real life functional movement. When you jump off the floor or squat to carry heavy objects, you are doing squat. In real life, you seldom sit with your back supported and locked at 45 degree to push out weight with your feet.
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