Have you ever seen a video of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson working out?
He has a traveling gym that he takes with him around the world and you can often find him sweating, shouting and surpassing his best as he gets his body into perfect action hero condition before most people have even woken up.
It’s no secret that The Rock is in incredible condition, from top to bottom, he’s a specimen, but with such definition and strength it may surprise you to learn that the squat, often referred to as the king of all exercises, doesn’t actually have a place in Dwayne Johnsons workout program, instead, he opts to use the leg press machine to help him pack on muscle and produce devastating strength as he continually improves his physique.
You may have seen the leg press machine in your gym, you may be looking for an alternative to the squat or you may even be looking for a lower body exercise which doesn’t put stress on your joints and actually helps you to improve your physique, either way, in this article we are going to breakdown how to successfully complete the leg press exercise.
Benefits of the Leg Press
The leg press is a fantastic machine that allows you to train and develop all of the muscles in your lower body, including your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, giving you many of the same benefits associated with the barbell squat but under a much more stable condition.
By changing your foot position you can place greater emphasis on different muscles in your lower body which can be a good tool when trying to address imbalances in the body caused by overactive muscles, and as many people have found, the leg press is also a great option for beginners or for those that are recovering from or that are prone to, injuries.
Most gym machines only allow a fixed range of motion, which can help you to improve your movement pattern and develop your lower body without the stress and pressure on your joints that you would find when squatting freely.
This is a huge benefit of using the leg press machine and therefore why it is such a good option for users that are prone to injuries or who are just recovering, it allows you to still develop your lower body, but in a much safer way.
Although fixed machines can provide you with a suitable and safer option for exercising there is still the possibility for things to go wrong, the leg press machine is no different, with common problems usually arising from user error.
Trying to lift with your ego and placing too much weight on the bars is a common mistake that people make, if this happens it could result in injury to your knees, ankles, and hips, therefore you should always build the weight up slowly, within your own capabilities.
Being in the wrong position, often by raising your head off of the headrest, placing your hands on your knees or lifting your glutes out of the seat can also lead to injury or an ineffective lift as you’re not in the correct position to actually complete the exercise.
It is therefore important to ensure you know the correct technique of how to perform the leg press.
How to Leg Press
The leg press is relatively simple to complete so long as you know the correct technique.
You should sit your butt back into the seat, holding the handles either side of the seat for extra grip and support as you get your feet into position in the center of the platform.
Your legs should be extended in front of you, placed on the foot platform, shoulder-width apart, with your feet slightly turned out to the sides so that your toes aren’t pointing straight forward.
When fully extended there should be a slight bend in your knee and you should avoid locking your knees out or overextending your legs.
Your back and hips should be firmly against the seat and backrest to prevent undue stress or strain on your joints.
As you are ready to lower the footplate you should unlock the safety clips and bend your legs, lowering your knees to your chest and being careful to do so with control and to not bounce your knees into or off your chest. From here, push your legs back to the top and once again do not lock your legs out at the top.
The standard position would see you with your feet in the middle of the platform, shoulder-width apart and is optimal for overall leg development, ensuring you are working all of the lower body sufficiently.
However, by changing your foot position and placement on the platform you can actually have more control over which muscles are worked.
By placing your feet higher up the platform you are able to place greater emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings whereas by placing your feet lower on the platform you can place much more emphasis on your quads.
You can also impact the inner and outer thigh as a wider stance puts greater emphasis on the inner thigh muscles and a narrower stance places greater emphasis on the outer thigh muscles.
These slight adjustments can help you to build all aspects of your lower body and by knowing these, you will be able to fully build a strong and effective lower body.
In some examples, the leg press should be avoided, such as if you have a weak pelvic floor, certain knee injuries or some back injuries or suffer from back pain.
Trying to complete the leg press with any of these conditions could lead to further complications and could result in your condition worsening, as always, you should consult your doctor before beginning your exercise regime.
If you do not suffer from these conditions then to ensure you’re safety simply pay attention to the form and technique guides and take care not to lock your knees out when you use this machine or try to lift above your capabilities.
The leg press is a great option for overall leg development and has long been used as the go-to leg developer for athletes, bodybuilders and the general public that want a safer option for working their lower bodies without the added pressure on your joints.
Although the benefits of the squat are undisputed, it is not for everyone and with the wrong technique, it can actually be dangerous.
The leg press allows you the opportunity to improve your strength and power and build a better, stronger physique, all at a lower level of risk.
If you’ve suffered from injuries in the past or you want the same benefits but at a lower risk, then the leg press could be the exercise for you.
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