learn about leg press benefits and and leg press technique.
You have heard repeatedly the need to include a dead lift variation or
the squat somewhere in your routine if at all possible. The reason
is that those exercises stress most of the largest muscle groups in
the body, which causes the body to release more Testosterone and
this leads to muscle growth.
Now some people genuinely can't do either of these exercises, which
puts them at a disadvantage if they want to add muscle. So if you
can't do either the squat or deadlift should you just give up your
muscle building dreams?
You need an exercise that can pack quality muscle on the quads in
the quickest possible time, and an exercise that can be done in
safety without compromising your back or knees. Which leads me onto
the topic for this week;
The Leg Press
This is an absolute favourite exercise, and I was able to add quite
a bit of muscle using it before I discovered the Trap Bar. I still
use it in conjunction with the trap bar. The routine I used was a
variation on a leg specialisation routine that I got from an old
Hard Gainer magazine.
It consisted of: Leg Press 3 warm up sets followed by 3 work sets of 12 reps each
One Leg Calf raise 3 sets of 15,12 & 10 reps with the same weight.
Finish! Sounds too easy, but I had to crawl across the floor at the
end of the work-out, and my legs felt fried for two days after.
You need to be using your maximum weights for this routine to work
- but using it you can really blast your thigh muscles.
Leg Press Benefits
The leg press is terrific as a muscle builder because you can use a
great deal of weight but the exercise is technically much easier
than the dead lift or squat. Having said that, it is still possible
to do it wrong and hurt yourself as a result. The purpose of this
article is to make you aware of the possible pitfalls.
To start off, there are several different types of leg press
machine. The safest one is the 45 degree sled type. I don't
recommend the leg press where you lie on your back and push the
weight straight up. First, it puts the lower back in a bad
position, and second, this type of machine seems more unstable. I
used to own one, and you couldn't press over 100kg with any safety
- it felt a bit like driving a Morris Marina at 150mph.
So I'm assuming you have access to the 45 degree sled type of
machine. Make sure you wear solid shoes with flat heels - (God
knows why you'd leg press with lifts on.) Shoes with highish rubber
heels will give an odd springy feel when you push the weight up. If
possible wear solid walking shoes.
Leg Press Technique
Grip the sides of the machine firmly, and stay tight throughout the
movement. (Most Leg press machines will have special gripping sites
for the hands). I believe you get the most benefit from the leg
press by pressing from a dead stop at the bottom. This takes the
momentum out of the movement, so you have to rely on muscle power.
You won't be able to move as much weight this way, but you will build more
muscle - which is more important to you?
Make sure you place your feet high up on the plate - this takes the
strain off the knees. I like to have my toes actually showing over
the top of the plate, so only the bottom two thirds of the foot is
on the plate. This means that you must press through your heels to
lift the weight. That is so important, that I'll say
it again for emphasis;
You must press through your heels.
If you press through the ball of the foot you can hurt your knees.
By making certain your toes are not in contact with the plate, you
have no option but to press through the heels.
Don't lock the knees right out at the top of the rep, and above
all, don't bang the knees out at the top. I see a lot of very
strong men doing this. Us mere mortals see this and we copy it. The
thing is that:
1) These guys have joints like gorillas, unlike most of us and...
2)Even allowing for that, eventually it will catch up with them
too, so don't bang your knees out at the top.
(Locking the knees is also a form of cheating because you can hold
the weight there and take the strain off the leg muscles and have a
Lower the weight under control, trying to avoid banging the
carriage on the stops as you lower it. Stay tight, and then press
the weight back up. For your breathing, take a deep breath before
you push up, and exhale forcibly as you send the carriage up.
Breathe in as you lower the carriage, and again breathe out as you
push it back up, and so on.
A big no-no is never hold your breath when leg pressing, you could
black out. Take about 3 minutes rest between work sets, and give
your thighs a good old massage in between sets, this will help
drive lactic acid out.
Here's a pretty good demonstration of how to leg press the right
Leg Press Demonstration
I had to look hard to find one worth showing! It seems there's a
lot of people who don't know how to do this exercise.
Points to note:
He lowers the carriage under control.
He never locks the knees out.
Keeps his back flat to the back of the machine for stability.
He doesn't rush the reps.
He doesn't bounce the carriage at the bottom - this gives more
momentum and makes the exercise easier.
His feet are nice and high on the plate, to save wear and tear on
He pushes through his heels - you should be able to wiggle your
toes - again this saves the knees.
Here is a classic example of what not to do:
Leg Press No No
The guy in this video is using a Smith Machine to do the leg press.
Never do this. The reason I include this is that it's a similar set
up to the old fashioned vertical leg press machine (which I don't
recommend). This style of leg pressing is bad for the back.
A quick word about the Smith Machine. It may be the worst piece of
bodybuilding equipment ever invented. It was originally designed
for squatting in. The problem with it is that the path of the bar
is locked into a vertical plane.
If you squat with free weights the bar will not go up and down in a
straight line. If you get used to sitting back as you squat down,
the bar path will go slightly backward as you go down. In the Smith
Machine this isn't possible. What that means is that your knees
have to travel well forward as you squat down. The Smith Machine is
a knee wrecker, so don't use it.
Something Else To Avoid In The Leg Press
Above is a link to another video. Notice here, that
this lady has her feet too low on the plate. That means that she
has to press through the ball of the foot to get the weight up.
This is a knee wrecker.
With all weight training movements you should strive for
the fullest range of motion that is comfortably possible for you.
When I started leg pressing 15 or so years ago my knees were very
stiff, but as I got more used to the exercise my ankles became more
flexible and I was able to extend the range of motion.
For rep ranges try 10 to 12 reps per set as work sets, after 2 - 3
warm up sets. Remember to keep the movement as smooth as possible,
and keep your body "tight" throughout the movement.
You can build up to using a fair amount of weight in the leg press,
and I find that it's one of those exercises where you need to feel
aggressive when you do it. I don't mean the crap that some
show-offs do in the gym where they shout and hit themselves and so
on, but controlled aggression does seem to help when your pushing
near your maximum weight.
I like to imagine I'm pushing my feet through the face of someone
at work who I hate! Do whatever works for you.
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The Information contained herein reflects only the opinion
of the author and is in no way to be considered medical advice.
Specific medical advice should be obtained from a licensed
health care practitioner. Consult your physician before you
begin any nutrition, exercise, or dietary supplement program.