A leg press machine is a piece of gym equipment used to strengthen the lower body, particularly the legs. It is constructed so that the user can easily and safely perform exercises that develop and isolate the use of certain leg muscles. For example, different exercises performed by using a leg press machine can strengthen the quadriceps, front of the thighs, hamstrings, back of the thighs, or gluteus muscles.
There are two basic types of leg press machines. The first type is a sliding or sled leg press machine. This apparatus uses weighted discs that slide along a vertical or diagonal track. The user sits in a padded seat facing toward the ceiling below the weighted platform, or sled, which is on the track. As the individual pushes upwards against the sled, the weights slide along the track providing resistance.
The second type is a cable leg press machine. This apparatus uses weighted discs that are lifted by means of a cable. The user sits in a padded seat and pushes his or her feet forward against a plate. This plate is attached to a cable and pulleys which in turn lift the weights.
It is imperative to have the leg press machine adjusted properly for the user’s height and strength. If the machine is not adjusted appropriately, not only will the correct muscles not be worked or strengthened, but they could actually be damaged. To adjust the leg press machine accurately, the user must sit on the seat with his or her feet approximately shoulder width apart resting flat against the plate. In this position, the legs should be bent at the knees at about a ninety degree angle.
If the angle is greater than ninety degrees, the exercise will work only a portion of the muscle range. To correct this, the seat must be moved closer to the foot plate, which will bring the angle closer to ninety degrees. When the angle is too sharp, or less than ninety degrees, there will be too much stress put on the joints. By moving the seat out or away from the push plate, the angle will be widened so that it is near the desired ninety degrees.
As with any workout or exercise routine, remember to start slowly and gradually. Over time, the amount of weight being used can be increased as the muscles adapt. If pain is experienced while performing any exercise, it should be stopped immediately.