Sunday, April 7, 2013

LEG PRESSING NOTES: Form, Foot placement and Stance. By Vic Goyaram

 Leg pressing notes: 
Form, Foot placement and Stance 
Researched and composed by Vic Goyaram

Leg press form
The leg press is a good exercise for the legs. It is a great adjunct to exercises like squats and lunges. There is less back involvement, allowing you to focus more on your legs.   The leg press lends itself well to intensity techniques like drop sets and rest pause. However, it is it more often than not made to be an ego exercise because one can really move some serious poundage on the leg press. You can easily impress yourself on the leg press because of the number of pounds you can pile on this machine. 

A. Leg press 500+kg but can squat only 60kg
Very often you will read or hear about somebody claiming a 500kg+ leg press. His legs may or may not match these poundages (more often it is the latter case). Secondly, you  may also see someone "leg press" 500kgs but can only half-squat 60kg (with an added 100kg of excuses, if he ever squats at all). I have put the leg press between inverted commas because their technique is not that of a leg press. 

B. Pressing only for a few millimetres, with assistance from two hands and two spotters
I am sure everyone has seen beginners and intermediates load up the leg press machine with heavy weights and move down only an inch. Sometimes you don't really see any movement in the legs but rather movement in their elbow joints. why? Because they are also pressing on their knees with their hands and two other persons helping. This is not called leg pressing. It is not even an exercise and we still have to come up with a name for this movement. 

C. Ass off the bench
Finally, you will also see people using an "overzealous" range of motion. Meaning, they will allow their butts to lift off the seat on the way down. This is potentially dangerous to the lower back. Do not do this. It does not equal more growth. 
Proper form: knees move to the chest, butts do not lift from the seat. 
Hands to the side and only on rare occasions can be used for assistance.
Photo courtesy: Dylan Ridley, South African elite bodybuilder
The Regular Leg pressing stance
The "normal"  stance for the leg press consists of the feet placed at a shoulder width and in the middle of the platform. The leg press appears to not be too versatile but this isn't true. As you will see below there are many variations, each with a different effect. You can create variations by placing your feet at different positions on the pressing platform.  Keep in mind that leg press machine designs differ a lot and some machine have large pressing platforms while others are quite small and does not allow for too many variations in foot placement.
As we will see later. Placing the feet at different heights on the leg press
platform impacts on the level of quadriceps and hamstring involvement
Feet high v/s feet low
Some machines with large platforms allow you to safely place the feet higher up. This recruits the glutes and hamstring muscles to a greater extent in addition to quadriceps. However, placing the feet lower down recruits more quadriceps. Experiment to see to which extent you can SAFELY use these two variations, depending on the size of your leg press machine platform.
Leg pressing with feet higher up on the platform (if the platform is wide enough to safely allow it) brings the hamstrings and glutes into play more.
Personally, I have a sciatic nerve impingement. The pain is very very mild but I use it as a training aid, in a "blessing in disguise fashion": it gives me hints about my form in several exercises and tells me to what extent my lower back skeletal system is starting to take stress through the pain signals that it sends me. Placing the feet relatively low on the leg press platform takes my lower back out of the equation. It can also tell you that putting the feet too high also puts a bit of stress on your lower back. From experience I have also seen that taller people prefer placing their feet high up the platform.
Proceed with caution. Women like this variation because it works the glutes
quite well. But safety is key here. You don't want you feet to slip.
Note that the knees are in line with the ankles in the bottom position
This variation works the quadriceps more than the hamstrings
Keep are kept fairly low on the platform.
Foot stances (Wide v/s Narrow)
Secondly, adopting a wider than shoulder width stance recruits the inner thigh muscles like the adductor and the glutes, giving more inner development to the legs, a great contributor to overall leg size. It is common belief that keeping feet together works the outer sweep (vastus lateralis) but there is no scientific proof that this is true.
Performing leg press with a rather wide stance stresses the
inner leg muscles as well.
Escamilla RF, Fleisig GS, Zheng N, et al. Effects of technique variations on knee biomechanics during the squat and leg press. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001 Sep; 33(9) :1552-66.

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1 comment:


    Can you help on how to choose the best or how to put it in my leg training day?