The right way to Do the Leg Press: Advantages, Kind, & Alternate options


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Based on many health “gurus,” all you must do to construct spectacular legs is squat.

Whereas there’s no denying the squat is a wonderful leg train, is it actually the be all and finish all of leg coaching?


One draw back of the squat is that it’s extremely fatiguing, particularly in your decrease again, which limits how a lot of it you are able to do per week earlier than your joints cry uncle. 

The easiest way to work round this concern is to do some squatting every week and likewise prepare your decrease physique muscle groups with different workouts which might be gentler in your again, just like the leg press.

The leg press trains most of the identical muscle groups because the squat, but it surely isn’t practically as fatiguing in your physique as a complete, which implies you should use it to proceed coaching your legs, even when the remainder of your physique is just too drained to squat safely.

Like all train, although, the leg press isn’t with out threat, and if you wish to get essentially the most out of it whereas staying injury-free, you must be taught correct leg press type. (Mockingly, it might probably even beat up your lower-back in case you don’t do it correctly).

On this article, you’ll be taught the whole lot you might want to know concerning the leg press train, together with what the leg press is, what the leg press advantages are, how one can use the leg press machine with correct leg press type, and extra!

What Is the Leg Press?

The leg press is a lower-body train that entails sitting in a seat and pushing a weight away out of your physique utilizing your legs. 

Sometimes, you carry out the leg press utilizing a machine known as a “leg press machine” (some individuals additionally use the Smith machine to carry out an train that’s much like the leg press generally known as the “Smith machine leg press,” however this isn’t widespread).

Not all leg press machines are the identical (the 2 hottest kinds of leg press machine are the “seated leg press” and the “vertical leg press”), however most encompass a padded seat, a footplate, and security handles. 

Right here’s an instance of what a leg press machine appears like:

leg press machine

Leg Press: Muscle Labored

One of many largest advantages of the leg press train is that it trains your whole lower-body muscle groups, together with the . . .

Right here’s how the muscle groups labored within the leg press look in your physique:


Leg Press: Advantages

1. It permits you to prepare your legs when your again is drained.

Throughout most of the finest leg workouts, just like the again squat, entrance squat, and Romanian deadlift, your again muscle groups need to work onerous to maintain your higher physique in a steady, secure, and environment friendly place.

In case your leg exercises solely encompass free-weight workouts like these, your again muscle groups (and notably your lower-back muscle groups) could fatigue sooner than your legs. In different phrases, whereas your again could also be bushed after 6 units of those workouts, your legs could possibly deal with a number of extra.

The leg press is a useful workaround on this situation, because it permits you to prepare your legs (primarily your quads and glutes) after your again is fried.

This ensures you possibly can prepare your legs with the quantity they should develop with out your lower-back turning into a limiting issue.

2. It’s much less fatiguing than different leg workouts.

Typically talking, free-weight workouts are more practical than machine workouts for constructing muscle and gaining power.

Nonetheless, compound, free-weight workouts additionally are typically extra taxing in your joints, ligaments, tendons, and central nervous system than isolation, machine workouts that prepare the identical muscle groups, which implies you possibly can solely achieve this a lot earlier than the standard of your exercises dips.

That is very true relating to massive muscle teams just like the legs and again.

A great way to keep away from that is to interchange considered one of your free-weight leg workouts every week with the leg press train as a result of this allows you to successfully prepare your legs with out carrying your physique to a frazzle.

For instance, as a substitute of doing a exercise that consists of the barbell again squat, leg curl, barbell entrance squat, and dumbbell lunge, you might swap the entrance squat for the leg press. (In truth, that is nearly precisely what Mike recommends in his packages for males and girls.)

3. It’s ideally suited for individuals with lower-back issues.

Not like many different compound leg workouts, the leg press doesn’t place any load in your backbone when it’s carried out appropriately. 

This makes it ideally suited for people who find themselves coaching round or making an attempt to keep away from reaggravating a again harm.

That mentioned, in case you carry out the leg press incorrectly by bringing your thighs too near your chest, or in case you lack the flexibleness to carry out it by a full vary of movement, your decrease again could spherical through the train. 

This locations stress in your decrease again and should improve your threat of harm. Thus, it’s important that you simply carry out the train appropriately, which you’ll learn to do in a second. 

You will have heard that you may change which lower-body muscle groups you emphasize on the leg press by altering your leg press stance.

For instance, widespread gymlore stipulates that . . .

  • To do a leg press for glutes and hamstrings, you must place your ft excessive on the footplate.
  • To do a leg press for quads, you must place your ft low on the footplate.
  • To emphasise your outer quads, you must take a slim stance.
  • To emphasise your inside quads, you must take a large stance and switch your toes out.

And whereas this isn’t utterly fallacious, it isn’t precisely proper, both.

For example, analysis reveals that performing the leg press along with your ft excessive on the footplate will increase glute and hamstring activation, and performing it along with your ft low on the footplate will increase quad activation. 

In each instances, nonetheless, the distinction in activation is slight, and since greater muscle activation doesn’t at all times lead to extra muscle achieve, it isn’t clear how a lot altering the peak of your leg press foot placement impacts your long-term outcomes.

Issues are much less ambiguous relating to how stance width and foot orientation impacts muscle activation: a number of research present that muscle activation in your legs is identical no matter how broad your stance is or the way you level your toes.

Thus, tinkering along with your stance width on the leg press received’t make any distinction to how a lot muscle you construct or the place you construct it, although it’s nonetheless one thing you must experiment with to discover a width that feels most comfy for you.

All issues thought-about, the most effective foot place for most individuals shall be one which has your ft midway up the footplate and somewhat wider than shoulder-width aside, and along with your toes pointing barely outward.

That is essentially the most comfy place for most individuals because it feels secure and steady and doesn’t require excessive flexibility, making it the most effective place to begin with.

Leg Press: Kind

The easiest way to be taught how one can use the leg press machine is to separate the train into three elements: arrange, descend, and press.

Step 1: Arrange

Load a leg press machine with the specified quantity of weight, then sit within the seat and wedge your butt down into the bottom of the seat. 

Place your ft midway up the footplate and somewhat wider than shoulder-width aside along with your toes pointing barely outward.

Straighten your knees barely and use the protection handles to launch the load. 

Step 2: Descend

Decrease the footplate towards your chest till your knees are about 12-to-18 inches out of your chest whereas holding your butt firmly planted within the seat and with out rounding your again.

As you decrease the load, push your knees out in the identical path as your toes.

Step 3: Press

Whereas holding your again pressed towards the backrest, push the footplate away out of your higher physique till your legs are nearly however not utterly straight (knees barely bent) and return to the beginning place.

FAQ #1: Leg Press vs. Squat: Which is best?

It relies upon.

The leg press and squat are each efficient workouts for coaching all of the muscle groups of the legs, although the squat is probably going higher at coaching stabilizer muscle groups throughout your complete physique and secondary muscle teams such because the decrease again, and should have extra carryover to different athletic endeavors.

That mentioned, many individuals lack the mobility to carry out the squat correctly, or can’t carry out the squat due to preexisting accidents that make it unsafe to position heavy masses on their again.

For these individuals, the leg press is a greater possibility than the squat, at the least till they develop the mobility to carry out the squat with correct type or get well from the harm that makes squatting uncomfortable. 

The squat can be very fatiguing, which may make the leg press a greater train for together with on the finish of your exercise once you’re feeling ragged.

FAQ #2: Leg Press vs. Hack Squat: Which Is Higher?

It relies upon.

The principle variations between the leg press and hack squat machines are that the hack squat trains your muscle groups by a larger vary of movement, which is usually higher for muscle development, however the leg press is much less taxing in your decrease again, which implies it’s much less fatiguing and could also be extra comfy in case you’re working round a lower-back harm. 

After all, there’s no motive to decide on only one. The very best answer for most individuals is to incorporate each workouts in your program. 

A great way to do that is to incorporate the leg press in your program for 8-to-10 weeks of coaching, take a deload, then substitute the leg press with the hack squat for the next 8-to-10 weeks of coaching.

Then, you possibly can both proceed alternating between the workouts each few months like this or persist with the one you favor.

FAQ #3: What’s the most effective leg press exercise?

If you wish to maximize muscle development, analysis reveals that it’s finest to coach your muscle groups in several methods, from completely different instructions, and at completely different angles. 

Thus, a correct “leg press exercise” also needs to embrace different workouts that prepare your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, like this:

  • Barbell Again Squat: 3 units of 4-to-6 reps with 2-to-3 min relaxation
  • Romanian Deadlift: 3 units of 8-to-10 reps with 2-to-3 min relaxation
  • Leg Press: 3 units of 8-to-10 reps with 2-to-3 min relaxation
  • Seated Calf Elevate: 3 units of 8-to-10 reps with 2-to-3 min relaxation

FAQ #4: What are the most effective leg press alternate options?

The very best leg press alternate options are free-weight workouts that use the identical motion sample because the leg press, such because the . . .

For those who aren’t capable of do free-weight workouts, nonetheless, the following finest leg press variation is the “one-leg leg press” (also referred to as the “single leg press”), which entails performing the leg press utilizing one leg at a time.

The principle advantages of the one-leg leg press are that it . . .

One widespread leg press different I don’t advocate is the Smith machine leg press. It’s awkward to arrange and carry out, and it’s possible much less efficient than doing a Smith machine squat or lunge as a substitute.

FAQ #5: What’s the leg press world report?

The leg press isn’t formally tracked in the identical manner that workouts just like the squat, deadlift, and bench press are, which implies there isn’t an official world report leg press.

That mentioned, William Cannon set an unofficial leg press world report of 1,120 kilograms (2,470 kilos) for a single unaided rep utilizing each legs in September 2021.

FAQ #6: Are you able to do the leg press at dwelling?

Except you’ve gotten a leg press machine, no, you possibly can’t do a “dwelling leg press.”

That mentioned, there are various good leg workouts you are able to do at dwelling that prepare your legs in an identical option to the leg press.

Try this text to be taught a number of the finest leg workouts you are able to do at dwelling with dumbbells, resistance bands, or your physique weight:

The three Finest Leg Exercise Routines You Can Do at House

+ Scientific References


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