Are you always dreaming of garnering more defined, stronger, and attractive looking legs? After all, your legs make up roughly 1/2 of your body, so why would you want tos ignore their appearance. If you are looking for ways to build some powerful legs, preferably those that don’t cost an arm and a leg, you should consider the seated leg press. If you are unaware of the many merits of this amazing exercise, I am here to confide in you some killer benefits of this exercise, the proper way to perform it, the primary and secondary muscles worked, it’s variations, and how this exercise would help you on your way to beautifully toned and strong legs. Let’s dig into it.
What Is A Leg Press?
In a nutshell, the leg press is a straightforward exercise, named after the leg press machine, that is used to perform it. This exercise involves lifting an adjustable weighted platform at a 45-degree angle upwards and away from yourself, pushing it up and out and then lowering it back down. This exercise strengthens various muscles in the leg such as glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings, improves your balance, builds stronger legs, and evaluates overall lower body strength. Not to mention, you don’t need to learn how to do a leg press perfectly, It generally involves loading weights onto the machine according to how much you can bear, sitting down, unlocking the weights, and start pressing!
Seated Leg Press Advantages
Strengthening The Gluteal Muscles
Your glutes is the main group of muscles located in your buttocks. Since this lower body exercise engages the gluteal muscles as stabilizers during the control or holding phase as well as the lift or extension phase, the leg press is one of the best ways of strengthening your gluteals. You can either train your glutes to be more enduring by performing more reps with lesser weight or add a ton of muscle mass to your buttocks by performing a few reps with a very high amount of weight. All in all, leg presses are one of the best ways of strengthening your glutes.
The Leg Press Machine Is Safer Than Weightlifting
Most beginner exercisers who are apprehensive about the risks involved with weightlifting exercises will greatly appreciate the safety promised by the leg press machine. The best part is that most leg press machines will come with a safety break. Even if you accidently let the weighted platform drop, it won’t come crashing down on you. This eliminates the need for a spotter, so you can work independently on your own without any fear.
Strengthening The Quadriceps
Your quads provide most of the power needed to lift the leg press machine perfectly. In fact, this lower body exercise engages your quads during every phase: the control phase, the push-off and lifting phase, and while lowering down the weights. Even though the quads act as the secondary stabilizers during the lowering down and control phase, they are still engaged. Strong quadriceps enhance the ability of your body to hold your body weight and helps you stand up and sit down. Not to mention, who doesn’t love well defined quads.
Building Stronger Calves
The seated leg press also does wonders for your calf muscles, even though it only employees your calf muscles as secondary stabilizers during every phase. However, the leg press still manages to tone and strengthen your calf muscles, which is important for cycling, running up and down the stairs or slopes, walking, or other activities. Strong calves are also important for preventing injuries and pulled muscles as well. If you want to increase the load which your calves take when doing leg presses, you can flex your feet, extend your toes, and push the platform using only your toes and the front of your feet. This will engage your calf muscles more and strengthen them.
Achieving Greater Balance
Additionally, a great benefit of working out with a leg press machine is that it improves your balance, and since your balance depends on the ability of your muscles to adapt quickly to positional changes and the strength of your legs, leg press machine contributes towards a better body balance by strengthening your legs. You can also try different variations of the seated leg press if you want to enhance the ability of your muscles to adapt to positional changes. In a nutshell, your lower body strength keeps you upright much more than weaker legs. This may not seem so important when you are young, but with age, lack of balance may lead to slip and fall injuries, such as shattered hips and broken bones.
Building Stronger Bones
Since a seated leg press can also be called a weight bearing exercise, it greatly contributes towards overall bone development. A weight bearing exercise puts increased pressure, stress, or weight on your bones, which helps them becomes bigger and stronger. The more weight and pressure you exert on your bones when lifting the leg press machine, the more bone mass is produced due to osteoblasts to compensate for the large amount of weight. This is very useful for providing you with a stronger skeletal system.
How To Use The Leg Press Machine
It can be intimidating for beginners to use the leg press machine for the first time, but don’t let such a simple machine scare you. Here’s how to use this machine the right way and start transforming your legs immediately. Firstly, add a 25 or 35 lb. plate to each side of the machine, but you can always change the weights depending on how much you can tolerate subsequentially during the reps. Sit down on the provided seat on the machine with your back and head resting comfortably against the padded support, and place your feet shoulder-width apart on the footplate while ensuring that your heels are flat. Extend your legs fully and press your feet into the footplate, and then unlock the safety latch with your hands. Make sure your knees are in line with your feet and neither be bowed inward nor outward. Brace your abdominal muscles and bring the footplate closer to your body by bending your knees gradually and straighten your legs again once your knees make a 90-degree angle. Be sure to engage your hamstrings and quads when pressing against the footplate. Keep the feet and back flat throughout. This complete a single rep of the exercise.
Best Seated Leg Press Variations
Even though the leg press seems like a simple machine, there are multiple ways to go about it! With a few minor foot adjustments, you can actually emphasize different leg muscles. If you are looking to up the challenge, here are a few amazing variations to try:
Three Second Descents
This variations increases the time under tension when performing a seated leg press. Slowly get up to your working weight by doing a couple low rep sets first. Once you have reached there, complete sets of 8 reps using 3-second descents. Instead of fretting over the concentric tempo, this variation is all about driving the weight up with force. A prudent advice is to adjust to a foot placement that allows you to be at your absolute strongest. The ultimate goal of this variation is not to hone in on your quad sweep, but to challenge yourself to push the most weight you can while maintaining the 3-second descent.
This variation entails you to place your feet in the middle of the footplate a little wider than shoulder-width, in order to work on your inner thigh muscles.
Banded Leg press
The banded leg press helps to add accommodating resistance to leg press training to improve time under tension, enhance concentric strength, and boost the rate of force production, while performing the leg press. To perform this variation, simply add a light band to the leg press around the seat frame and the weight pegs.
If you want to emphasize your outer thigh muscles, this variation is the best to try. This is accomplished by placing your feet in the middle of the footplate closer than you would in a normal leg press.
Feet Up High
While this variation lets you keep your feet a shoulder-width apart as with normal leg presses, you have to place your feet near the top of the footplate in order to put more emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings.
Partial Leg Press
Partial reps can help to overload a muscle by either adding extra weights or elongating time under tension. This helps you isolate ranges of motion that may be hard to reach in the squat/leg press and also increase muscular hypertrophy.
Feet Down Low
Keeping a shoulder-width stance, this variation entails you to place your feet near the bottom of the footplate, in order to put more emphasis on your quadriceps.
1 ½ Leg Press
This variation revolves around enhancing strength development at various ranges of motion and increasing loading and time under tension of quadriceps. Start by lowering the sled to the bottom position, pushing it only half back up before lowering it back to the starting position and then pushing the sled back to the starting position, This completes one rep of the exercise.
Single Leg-Leg Press
If you want to garner the ability to develop your lower body effectively, improve functional strength, and get greater range of motion, this variation is best for you. In order to perform this variation, cut the resistance weight in half by taking one leg off the footplate. We recommend that you start out with low weight and build up from there depending on how much you can tolerate.
Common Mistakes When Performing The Seated Leg Press
Too Much Weight
Never try to lift more weight than you should, since it would cause more damage than it is worth. If you can’t control the movements, lower the weights. Proper form is more essential in this lower body exercise than the amount of weight you’re lifting.
Buttocks Not Flat Against Seat
You will know that your legs are at a sharp angle if your buttocks are raised off the seat. Keep moving the seatback until your buttocks and knees are positioned comfortably. Poor positioning will leave you feeling cramped. If you can see your knees directly in front of your eyes, adjust your position.
Placing Hands on Knees
Beginners often place their hands on their knees without even realizing it. Know that this common mistake can break your form. Grip the assist handles instead of your knees for a proper form.
The position of your head is also important when performing this exercise. It should be steady and laid comfortably against the seatback instead of dangling on your neck. You might be using more weight than you can handle if you are jerking your head forward constantly.
Most people make the mistake of stop breathing during the effort phase. The key is to avoid holding your breath by focusing on exhaling on exertion and inhaling on release.