The leg press seems to be a target for hate comments within the fitness community. Those new to fitness may think legs will not grow from leg pressing or consider leg presses to be a “weaker” leg exercise. However, this is just plain wrong. Any professional trainer with the proper qualifications will tell you that leg presses are an effective exercise if you are looking to strengthen your legs and surrounding muscle groups. While there are other exercises, like squats, which can also help train your lower body, leg presses remain an important part of a complete leg day routine.
Leg Press vs. Squat: Which Is Better?
Both squats and leg presses are known to work your quadriceps or quads. However, they also work your hamstrings and glutes, which is why these two exercises are so integral to any routine focused on lower body training. The difference between the two is that squats tend to engage other muscle groups like your abs and hips, whereas leg presses mostly focus on movement and strengthening of the legs. However, that does not mean that one is better than the other. As you will see, leg presses are as important as squats and other lower body exercises. They provide a unique set of benefits that will complement any leg day routine, whether you are an avid gym-goer or just getting started.
Leg Press Benefits
Personally, I love the leg press workout. It is an easy way to grow your legs and something I have incorporated into my leg day routines. It is an easy exercise to accomplish, and less taxing on your back compared to a squat. But you must make sure you are leg pressing correctly, meaning that you are hitting the right range of motion or depth, and not allowing your back to round. If you lack the range of motion, you will obviously be adding more 45’s on each side. This will put a tremendous amount of pressure on your knees, and you will not be targeting your legs correctly because you cannot hit the full range of motion needed to grow them.
Having said this, performing leg presses correctly and incorporating them into your leg day routine has significant benefits over time, including:
- Total workout of all leg press muscle groups
- Firmer glutes
- Stronger hamstrings
- Stronger quads
- Stronger calves
- May help jumping and running abilities
- Improved balance
- Stronger bones
How to Do a Leg Press: Dos and Don’ts
Like any other exercise, you will get the most out of your leg presses by having the best possible form. While they may seem simple, there is actually more to a leg press than just pushing the weights away from your body. To perform a leg press correctly:
- You must keep your chest up with your lower back on the pad.
- Your stance can be similar to your squat; however, you can also vary your stance with a wide or close stance.
- Push through your foot, keeping your heels on the pad, and coming down so that your knees are touching your chest, and pushing back up.
- No half reps either - drop your ego, drop the weight, and get that full range of motion.
As stated above, the leg press is also less taxing on your back, which has low axial loading. Exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, etc., are all extremely taxing to your back, making them high axial loading. Since there is a lot of tension on your back, this can cause fatigue, which limits the weight you can lift and the number of reps you can do. Since the leg press is low axial loading, this allows you to crank out more volume and focus on that quad burn. You can also hit your glutes and hamstrings with a wider stance or isolate your quads by using one leg at a time.
Leg Press Variations for Maximum Muscle Growth
When you are leg pressing, you want to make it as intense as possible - red in the face intense! The security of the press allows you to increase the intensity, especially if you are doing metabolite sets. These are sets that aim at getting blood and metabolites into the muscle, which is thought to produce hypertrophy through the mechanism of metabolic stress. My go-to for leg press is a drop set, where you conduct your normal sets, and on the last set, drop the load and hit that until failure. There are also leg press variations, like the seated leg press or incline leg press, which you can perform for a more complete routine.
This is why I love the leg press - there are numerous exercises that you can conduct to focus on your legs, but ultimately, if you do this exercise correctly and with intent, your legs will show progress.
How to Get Started
I highly recommend integrating leg presses into your leg days, especially if you are just starting to work out your lower body. If you are not comfortable doing leg presses, remember you can always ask the trainers in your gym, and there is no need to feel embarrassed! So now that you know what leg presses can do for you, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get those firm and strong legs you have always wanted! And remember to make the most of your workout by complimenting them with the proper supplements like Revive supplements, which are made with the finest ingredients to get you closer to your goals in a completely natural way.