Why I Love: The Leg Press

The leg press gets a lot of flack.

“Leg press? You mean pussy press?”

“Want your legs to grow? Try squatting instead”

“Oh you hit a leg press PR, how cute”

You catch my drift, a lot of people seem to hate on this machine, but I am here to tell you they shouldn’t. Now what they should do is continue to support the fact squatting is awesome (it seriously is) and also continue to call out idiots in the gym who use all the plates and then barely bend at the knees when leg pressing.

Recently I have grown to love the leg press, and personally I think every exercise has its place, and I am going to share with you why I love the leg press.


1.] Easy to do right

As far as technical lifts go the leg press is pretty darn low on the list.

Pretty much anyone should be able to get on a leg press, choose an appropriate load and perform sound repetitions. Now the trouble is the leg press is also super easy to get wrong, especially if you don’t load it appropriately. However, having said that you’re still much safer doing a leg press wrong than say a deadlift or squat, which are more technically demanding.

Most often what I see people doing wrong:

  1. Lack range of motion (ROM) i.e. don’t go to full depth.
  2. Allow their lower back to round.

By limiting ROM you can use more weight, which if you let your back round is very unsafe. You’re also not getting the most from the movement if you limit your ROM, and putting more undue stress on your knees. If you perform a leg press correctly they are very very safe.

How to perform a leg press:

  1. Keep your chest up throughout, with lower back on the pad
  2. Your stance wants to be similar to your squat, but can vary
  3. Push through your entire foot, keeping your heels on the platform always
  4. No half reps, all the way down & all the way up in a controlled fashion

#SaturdaySquats came after #SickeningSlaughterPress i.e. Leg Press 😱 # If you've been keeping up with my training you'll know I've had a knee niggle, hence Leg Press first. # I can squat, but not with heavy loads. So I did 9 sets of leg press prior to some constant tension light squats & finished with myoreps on leg extensions 😷 # So yeah, you can still slaughter your legs without heavy squats. Assuming you go DEEP on your leg presses ✊🏻 # Likely no heavy squatting for the next few weeks, which is absolutely fine. I'm a bodybuilder & can still get a HUGE training effect without them 📈 # Weighed in at a low 172lbs this AM & so carbs up another 20g for my final week of my mesocycle. Looks like I at have gained 📊 a couple of pounds over the past few weeks which is pretty bang on target 🎯 # #LegDay #Hypertrophy #NaturalBodybuilding #ReviveStronger

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If you follow those steps above (which really aren’t all that hard) then you’ll be getting the most out of your leg pressing. As I said its super simple, but so many people get this stuff wrong. Drop your ego, keep the weight at an amount that allows you to perform high quality reps.


2.] Low Axial Loading

Basically the leg press doesn’t put any stress on your back.

Things like squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, overhead presses etc. all put a lot of stress on your back, they have high axial loading. This produces a high amount of fatigue and can consequently lower the amount of volume you can perform. If your programme contains some or a lot of these varieties you have no doubt experienced how tiring they really are.

When it comes to hypertrophy we want to produce and work with high volumes, exercises with high axial loading can somewhat limit this. Thus, this is where the leg press comes in, as it doesn’t put the same demand on the back. So if you’re looking for a good exercise to get a lot of volume in for your quads, the leg press is certainly a good candidate. – Read more about things that impact your MRV here


3.] Quad burn anyone?

Hell if the leg press is good for anything it’s good for a quad burn.

It’s pretty much an isolation exercise for the quads if you want it to be, you just need to perform it in a particular way that emphasises the them. I think the glutes will always be a little involved as you go deep, but for the most part you can use the leg press as an almost completely quad focussed movement.

A few tips:

If you do all or a combination of the above you’ll really be smashing your quads. Furthermore, I know squats are excellent for annihilating the quads also but there is only so much you can do with them. Often a persons lower back can be the limiting factor, which means the quads still have more to give.

Why not give them what they’re calling for via the leg press, which should not stress the low back anywhere near as much.


4.] Bye bye knees

You know squats are bad for your knees right?

Ha, no, no, as said before so long as exercises are performed how they’re meant to be, they’re almost all safe. However, I personally have had some issues with my squats, they’ve been causing some pain in my knee. This is likely an overuse injury of sorts, it’s frustrating and I still want to give my quads a good beating.

Now the great thing with the leg press is it’s very versatile, you can use many different foot positions and there are normally a couple of varieties in the gym (if you go to a big one). I couldn’t do smith machine squats, I couldn’t do hack squats, but I did find that a certain leg press was completely pain-free. So I matched my volume for squats and went onwards with the leg press, and damn, I definitely got a training response!

So leg presses can be a great tool when other areas of you are beat up.

Little side note: I could squat, just not with any good weight, so I actually pre-exhausted my quads on the leg press and then did some light slow and controlled squats to really wreck my quads, nice huh?


5.] Red in the face press

Everyone goes red in the face with leg presses.

Well anyone who is worth a damn, because you can make leg presses super intense. Even when I am 3 reps from failure and obviously really sub-max, I go red in the face. The big stretch on the quads and the security of the press really allows you to jack your intensity up safely. You can also make this even more intense through a variety of ‘intensifiers’ or rather what I like to call ‘metabolite sets’.

These are simply sets in which the aim is to get as much blood and metabolites into the muscles, which is thought to produce hypertrophy through the mechanism of metabolic stress. The leg press due to being a safe and stable machine is a great way to get this work in, because you do need to go somewhat close to failure, and so the risks increase.

My go to for leg press is either:

1.] Drop sets – you do your normal sets & after your final set you drop the load 3 to 5 times and rep out each time till near fail

2.] Myoreps – you do an ‘activation set’ then have short rest periods doing clusters of 3 to 5 reps

Trust me, you’ll never think the leg press is for pussies again after trying one of the above.


7.] Why use two legs when you can use one?

Finally, I love single leg pressing a bunch.

You can really isolate one quad at a time, and the added benefit is you can often get deeper because it’s easier to keep both your heel and lower back down. So for those of you without heeled shoes or with poor ankle mobility, a single leg variety might be just what the Dr. asked for.

I'm a big fan of unilateral Leg Presses, assuming you do use good form of course. # This & squats are my Quad movements this meso & I find I can really hit my quads comfortably even if the rest of me is fatigued with these. # Using 1 leg at a time does a few things; allows me to give all focus to that Quad, keeps my low back safely on the back rest, whilst getting full depth. # I don't mess around with foot placing much, just use a spot that allows maximal ROM whilst keeping form on point. # Remember I'll be going live in just over an hour, come join me to hear about my week & ask any questions. # #LegPress #Quads #ReviveStronger #gym #london #exercise #training #Workout #massing #bulking #cutting #prep #bodybuilding #naturalbodybuilding #natty #physique #powerlifting #iifym #FlexibleDieting #nutrition #gbsl #mcmovement #prep

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Furthermore, because you’re using one leg at a time this means less load can be used, which often means it beats you up less and might be safer. However, having said that, single leg presses are not easy by any means and you can work just as hard as you would with usual leg press.


That’s why I love; the leg press

There’s 7 reasons I love the leg press, maybe you now love it too, or possibly you’ll learn to love it after applying some of the bits above. Every exercise has it’s pro’s and con’s, it’s all about selecting the appropriate tool to get the job done. I’ll never throw out squats unless I have to, but I equally won’t discredit leg press or any other exercise.

That’s why I love the leg press 🙂


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