Pros and cons of using the leg press machine.

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There are pros and cons to using the leg press machine, which I go into below.  The above video is an excellent example of using the leg press.  Its only a couple of minutes long and he covers all the main safety points.  All the youtube clips emphasise not locking out the legs, but you do still have to go to near lock out in order to keep balance in the  quad muscles, as he demonstrates well on the video.

He stresses the importance of keeping the back still.  It may help to put a rolled up towel under the small of the back to help this important stability.

If you look down at the comments, I noticed that the first comment said they’d farted when first using the machine.  Oops.  For good back safety, to avoid unnecessary gym noises or smells, plus to gain considerably more strength, it is important to engage the abs properly and that is from the inside out:  just as you push off,the pelvic floor should slightly lift, which equates to lifting the testicles or get your gizzards up, if female.  Do not excessively tighten the abs!  Get it right and farting is an impossibility – unless you’ve been foolish and gone a bit bonkers with the beetroot the night before.  Your back remains stable throughout the exercise.

Ideally, your head is resting back on the machine – you may have to use another towel to rest it on.

This leg press machine has your legs much higher than your body.  Obviously, we can all only use the leg press machine available in our gym.  But for each leg press machine, the above basic rules still apply.  Here are some pros and cons of using it.

Pros.

  • If we are very weak, for what ever reason, we can start to get some strength back in our legs.
  • We can easily see what our knees are doing as we bend and straighten them.  If they are hard to control, this is a sign of muscle imbalance.  Actually, the best answer is Z health since this gets at root causes.  But if you do not live any where near a Z health trainer, then it would be wise to address the problem using more conventional methods of massage and stretching.  If you can’t control your knees, keep the weight light.
  • If the desire is for bigger legs, then most of the workout should consist of split squats, full squats, Romanian deadlifts and so on.  To finish the legs off, you blast them to pieces on the leg press machine.  You pick a slightly lighter weight than normal and then just keep going – under control, of course, until you can literally do no more.  Having a gym buddy or PT will help get you there.  This is quite horrible to undergo.  It depends upon how strong your desire for massive quads is.
  • Turning the feet out to 10 to 2 – like a duck – can help strengthen the inner knee muscle, the VMO.

Cons.

  • It should not be the prime method of strengthening the legs.  Squatting, split squats and so on form the bulk of leg strengthening.  As said above, the leg press is good for the extremes of the very weak and for those wanting to develop massive thighs.
  • Because the back is in a fixed position, you can’t get such a good range of movement as you can in a proper full squat.
  • It is easy to push heavier than you can stabilise, so cause injury to either the legs or the back.
  • Locking out the knees on this machine really is bad for them and carries a great risk of hyper-extension – bending them backwards.    But not taking the legs straight enough also causes muscle imbalance problems, since the inner knee muscle, the VMO, is responsible for fully straightening the legs.  If we keep a significant bend in the knee, we don’t engage the VMO properly.  Also the VMO fires up to get us out of a deep squat or out from the lowest point of a split squat.  Due to the nature of the machines, we can’t get low enough on most leg press machines to really inspire the muscle to do its work.

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