Last Updated on by Eat Better Move More

What is Leg Press?

Are you looking for an effective leg workout that doesn’t put much strain on your back? Barbell-induced discomfort is a disadvantage when doing squats with a barbell without proper form. Of course that can be fixed by correcting your technique, but there are other alternatives to leg workouts aside from squats.

The leg press is a workout equipment you can likely find in your local gym. It’s fairly easy to use, and works effectively without putting too much strain on other parts of your body.

In this article, let’s tackle some of the few most common questions about leg press.

Leg Press

What is the Average Leg Press Weight?

There’s no average leg press weight. However, if you are new to the machine, you have to start with the perfect weight for you, the weight that challenges you but you can still handle.

Your ideal leg press weight entirely depends on your fitness level. For beginners, around 50 to 75 percent of their body weight is the best option.

Although average people can normally lift around 268 pounds, it’s not advisable to start with that. You have to condition your body to do the exercise with the proper form and technique first.

According to Sam Becourtney, a physical therapist at Bespoke Treatment in the city of New York, you should start with half the weight of what you’d imagine you can press, especially if you have never used the machine before. It’s important to make sure, Becourtney continues, to take the machine’s weight into consideration before worrying about adding weight plates.

He suggests doing a couple of presses on the machine without any plates before worrying about how much weight you’re gonna add on it.

As you become more accustomed to the machine, you can steadily increase the weight you can press on it. Experienced leg press users can press around 4 or 5 times their body weight.

How to Use the Leg Press RIGHT?

As always with gym  equipment and with any sort of exercise, doing everything RIGHT is key. It’s the key to making the exercise effective, productive, and fruitful. It’s also the key to avoiding making a fool of yourself and avoiding injuries.

The Perfect Form

Before getting into it deep, it’s important to get your form perfect first. The perfect form depends on the type of leg press your local gym has, but the principles are the same.

Straight back and head flat on the seat, feet flatly planted on the platform about the width of your hips apart, comfortably seated with your knees bent naturally – this is your beginning form.

No matter what type of leg press you are using, this is pretty much how you should start on the machine. Whether the machine is horizontally seated, at a 45 degree recline, or on a lying position, you don’t have to deviate from the basics.

The Perfect Movement

Once in the perfect beginning form, the movement is pretty easy and should be natural. It consists of two basic movements:

  1. Drive your heels away from your body, pushing the platform away. But don’t extend your legs all the way, your knees should not completely be locked straight.
  2. Slowly bring back the platform towards you. Maintain control of the motion, bend your knees towards the starting position.
  3. Repeat the motions until you finish your routine.

Pro Tip!

The machine is designed to work your entire lower body. But you can tweak your foot placement to target and emphasize different muscle groups. To target your glutes and hamstrings, position your feet higher on the platform. A lower footing is effective in working out your quads and is even shown to improve the abdominal muscles.

A wider footing is known to develop the side muscles along your legs. A narrow footing, however, decidedly reduces the strain on your back.

Programming Your Leg Press Routine

What’s the best way to program your leg press routine? That depends on what your goal is – do you want to increase in endurance or in muscular size?

The American Council on Exercise says that the amount of weight you press must be inversely related to the number of reps you’re doing. This is to say that the heavier you are pressing, the less reps you should be doing.

If you’re a beginner and will press about 50 percent of your weight, then strive to do 10 to 12 reps without compromising the perfect form. If you’re trying to strengthen your legs, add weights slowly and increase reps as you get more comfortable in the machine.

However, if you’re looking to increase muscle size, keep your reps low, never exceeding 6 reps at once. But you can increase in weight faster, but not to the point of risking injuries.

Why Start Leg Pressing?

Why should you opt for leg presses when you can do squats? Well, leg press has a lot of benefits you might not want to miss out on.

  • Did you know that leg press also improves the core? One of the greatest benefits associated to leg press is internal strength development. It encourages a serious amount of power from your center.
  • Leg press improves performance and movement. Doing the exercise right, with proper focus on form and deliberate motion gives you an edge in strengthening your control over your leg muscles. It’s known to improve the quality of the vertical jumps and running.

Start Leg Pressing Today!

If you haven’t tried it before, it’s time to start leg pressing today! It holds a lot of benefits, if done right. And it’s easy to do!

Just be careful that the equipment has no faulty parts. And make sure that you do not overextend yourself. But aside from these precautions, it’s safe to say that leg press is the best alternative to an effective leg workout!


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