I love the leg press. It’s my favourite machine at the gym. Not least because it’s the only one where I can actually lift more than three weights bars. In fact, I can lift more than I weigh. I’m not sure if that will ever come in handy, but it’s something I’m proud of.
However I’ve often wondered if I’m actually doing it right as I don’t go that far down before I return to the start.
Turns out, that not a bad thing. There’s a piece in this month’s Australian Good Health magazine that explores all the common gym mistakes, one of which is bending your knees too deeply on the leg press – apparently, this puts pressure on them when you lift back up, and probably also reduces the pressure on your glutes as well meaning they aren’t working as hard as you’d want them to on this machine.
Apparently, you shouldn’t dip lower than a 90-degree knee bend – and don’t lock them out afterwards.
Another top tip when you’re using the leg press is to put a ball between your knees so they don’t ‘kiss’ together as you press which also reduces the amount of work the glutes do.
This is a bit different from advice when doing normal squats though – now, the advice there is to go as low down as you can without putting any additional pressure on your knees.
Also, watch where you’re looking. Looking down as you squat causes you to lean back which works your glute muscles in your bottom more than the leg as a whole – it also puts you at risk of back problems say researchers at the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. To stay in the right position, fix your eyes at the point where the wall and ceiling meet and keep your gaze there as you move.