Do you use the Leg Press? If so, have you ever been told that it will “make your thighs big”? Well my answer is that if “big” equates to “strong”, well then yes, I’ll incorporate the Leg Press, Squats and/or Lunges into my fitness program every time. Mountain Climbers are another story…
So, what exactly does exercising with a Leg Press involve, and what are the benefits?
The Leg Press is one of the simplest exercises you can do, and yes, it’s also the name of the piece of equipment – the leg press machine. It involves lifting an adjustable weighted platform angle, upwards and away from yourself – pushing the platform up and out, holding it briefly, then lowering it back down. The leg press is a good way to evaluate your lower body strength.
The leg press also strengthens the Gluteal muscles. If you’re doing a leg press correctly, you will fully engage your gluteal muscles during the lift or extension phase, in addition to the brief holding phase. Think of the glutes as the strengthening stabilisers during a leg press movement.
What about the weights – what amount should I use?
Doing many repetitions with a low amount of weight, will support your glutes to be more ‘enduring’. Pushing a very high amount of weight, with low repetitions will add muscle mass. Either way, your glutes will thank you. Remember – strong glutes are important for a whole range of lower body exercises.
The Leg Press will also help you build strong hamstrings – the muscles that extend from below your glutes, down to your knees. These muscles are engaged almost during the entirety of a leg press movement. Strong hamstrings give that push off power needed to run, jump and will give you overall more explosive (and faster) power. Strong hamstrings also help to prevent injury and pulled muscles.
The Leg Press strengthens the quadriceps, which support your ability to hold up your own body weight, sit down and to stand up. Strong quads look good too!
Your calves can benefit from the Leg Press, by extending your toes, flexing the feet and pushing the platform out as far as you can, using your toes and the front of your feet. There are variations in this movement, but always ask your Trainer for advice.
The Leg Press is a compound exercise, meaning that it engages multiple muscles or muscle groups at once. Compound exercises allow you to train more muscles at the same time.
Your skeleton also benefits from doing leg presses, as it is a weight bearing exercise. The leg press increases pressure, stress and weight on the bones (as it does on the muscles). Think of the leg press as a bone building exercise. This increased pressure causes the osteoblasts in your bones to produce more bone mass, making them bigger, thicker and denser.
In summary, using the Leg Press machine assists in giving you stronger legs, better balance, stronger bones, and a great looking lower body. Remember though, that correct form is ALWAYS more important than the level of weight.