The leg press is a weight training exercise that trains your lower body muscles. In this exercise, you use the strength of your legs to push the weight away from your body. The leg press builds strength and endurance in your major leg muscles like quadriceps, hamstring, and gluteus muscles.
The machine on which this exercise is performed is known as the leg press machine. The leg press machine comes with two variations, the standard horizontal leg press, and the 45-degree incline leg press. Both the machines help you in strengthening your legs and can be easily found in a gym or fitness center.
Your form plays a significant role during this movement, improving your form will deliver maximum benefits and minimum risk of injury. Doing this exercise with correct posture can make your knees stronger to tackle heavy loads.
The leg press is preferred for beginners as it improves their form and prepares them for more advanced variations involving free weights. This exercise is easy to perform hence can be easily added to your workout routine or circuit training program.
This movement helps in developing muscle mass for specific muscles like quadriceps, hamstring, glutes, and calf muscles as no other muscles are activated. Due to the fixed position and low range of motion in the leg press, there are no stabilizing muscles involved therefore more tension is generated in your legs which results in higher muscle development.
Resistance exercise like leg press builds explosive strength and agility in your upper leg muscles (quadriceps, hamstring, gluteus) which helps in performing pushing movements like squats and lunges more easily. Explosive strength also plays a significant role in sports as strong leg movement is required to perform well. Some examples of such sports activities are football, basketball, athletics, swimming, tennis, martial arts, etc.
Training your lower body with weights helps in burning excess fat from your body. The leg press has a great scope of weight loss due to its fixed form and easy load management. You can either perform this exercise with high repetitions and light weights or low repetitions and heavy weights both the ways you can burn a high amount of calories and tone your muscles.
By changing the position of your feet on the footplate you can target different muscles and increase the intensity of this exercise. Keeping your feet wide will work your inner thigh and keeping your legs closer will work your outer thigh muscles. Adjusting your feet position can overcome muscle imbalance and promote equal growth.
In leg press, you can add weights according to your fitness level. You can also challenge your strength by adding weights in increasing order. For example, during warm-up, you can add light weights and for sets, you can add challenging weights with a low risk of injury. This makes this exercise less space-consuming as only the machine and weight plates are required.
1) Start this exercise by sitting on the leg press machine with your head and back resting on the support. Hold the support handles with your hands to keep your body stable. Your feet should be placed slightly outward, wider than your hip’s width.
2) Activate your core and unlock the machine by moving the handles. Push the footplate by pressing your heels on the surface. Don’t raise your heels and push through your toes during the movement as it can cause injury. Inhale while extending your legs and pushing the plate.
3) Hold the position at the top. Don’t lock your knees as it will take away the tension off your muscles. Keeping your body stable and against the pad, lower your legs back to the starting position. Exhale while lowering your legs. This is one repetition of the leg press exercise.
4) You can perform 10 repetitions with light weights as a warm-up set and 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions with moderate weights.
While doing the exercise, if your hips are raised from the machine then it can cause damage to your lower back. You can identify poor form if you feel cramped or when your knees seem directly in front of your eyes.
When performing the leg press with heavy weights you may move your hands on the knees to support the movement. This mistake can disturb your form and reduces the effects of the exercise on your muscles.
Your head should be placed comfortably on the support pad throughout the exercise. If too much tension generates in your neck and your head then it means you’re using heavyweights.
Beginner’s do this mistake quite often if not given proper instructions. Locking your knees at the top can lead to severe injury to your knee joint. It can also result in slower growth of your quadriceps and hamstring muscles.
Using only one leg to perform this exercise can help you to overcome muscle imbalance in your legs. Focusing on one leg at a time can boost muscle growth, agility, and explosive strength of your legs. Use lighter weight while performing with a single leg and keep your body stable.
This exercise is an advanced variation of the horizontal leg press exercise. A separate machine known as the incline leg press machine is required to perform this exercise. In incline leg press, your muscles need to work harder as the weights are acting directly on your legs. A safety bracket is installed in the machine if the weight falls on your legs.