First let’s understand the clear distinction between strength and hypertrophy, especially if you’re one to believe that leg press machines will provide you with bulkier thighs and calves. There are enough lean individuals out there who can lift enormous level of weight, while a highly muscular man finds it difficult to open a jar of jam.
Strength, here, refers to the speed at which your neurological system responds, i.e. it’s efficiency in activating high numbers of muscle fibers to do you bidding. While hypertrophy pertains to growing the size of your muscles by focusing on muscle glycogen and protein synthesis.
Key leg exercises to practice are almost always referred to by most gym goers as squats and leg presses. Squats though are more of an intense strength building exercise, and are considered a high class exercise for he legs as they cover plenty of the muscle groups present in the body as well, such as your core, back, stability, etc.
Leg pressing can help you obtain both, but it’s better practiced for improving strength in your legs. While strengthening, it also helps in toning your muscles, while burning major calories, among them your quads and glutes. But it’s all about the type of leg press workouts that can make a major difference in what aspect of your muscle group you’ll be working, especially depending on what you want to build – your strength or hypertrophy.
Specifically speaking, certain small changes that affect your workout can be placed in the following categories:
Things To Be Considered While Working Out With Leg Press
- Higher position of your feet works on your glutes and hamstrings
- Lower position of your feet works on your quads alone
- Toes pointed internally, affect the external parts of your quads
- Toes pointed externally affect the internal parts of your quads
A few of our suggestion, specific to what you’d like to improve upon, are mentioned below:
Specific Guidelines To Be Followed
1. Seated Leg Press.
As the name suggests, the position at which the practitioner will be placed is similar to a seated position, but with your feet placed in front of you. Keeping your feet at the top of the press helps work your glutes and hamstrings more as you push against the weight. Seeing how the position is very comfortable, breathing is easier to incorporate. Also, this is much easier on your leg muscles comparatively.
2. 45-degree leg press.
Here, the press itself is moved up, to keep your feet at a 45-degree angle in comparison to your body. Seeing how you’re slightly working against gravity here, this is a much more difficult exercise to practice than the one mentioned above. Your external quads are more likely to be worked on as you practice this workout recurrently.
3. Frog Stance Leg press
A perfect workout for your quads, keeping your feet slightly apart as you place them onto the leg press, you tilt your toes and knees outwards to seemingly display a frog-like stance, while keeping your weight on the balls of your feet. As you rhythmically practice this workout, you build strength and a lean tone onto your internal aspects of the quadriceps.
4. Single Leg Press
While maintaining a good spinal position, you utilize only one leg when performing this workout variation, the other leg kept as comfortably as possible onto the ground. Support your weight as you stretch out your leg till it’s ramrod straight, then slowly bring it back towards your body, bending your knee as comfortably and slowly as possible, without letting the weight affect your pelvis. Once you’ve reached on end, pause, and repeat the entire notion all over again, simply with one leg alone. Your quadricep will be completely pushed as you perform this practice.
5. Narrow Stance Leg Press.
Placing your feet as close to each other as possible, i.e. slightly less than the regular shoulder-width distance, your toes pointed outward. Feet at a perfect 90-degree angle, fully extending your feet against the weight, only to slowly bring them back while maintaining the position of your feet. Here, you must push while utilizing your heels, and bring the weight closer by utilizing your quads. Your abductors and outer quads will be exercised perfectly here.
Bonus Points – Must Read:
You can even perform calf raises on the leg presses, to strengthen and tone your calf muscle. To practice this, you’ll need to only place your toes onto the press, working your outer, inner and full calf muscles based on how your toes are placed, a similar mechanism in comparison to the standard leg presses. That is,
- Straight feet focusing on your entire calf muscle
- Toes pointed outwards focusing on your inner calf muscles
- Toes pointed inward focusing on your outer calf muscles.
Beneficially, leg presses offer several variations as mentioned before, targeting specific spots even in your muscle group itself. A close-kinetic-chain exercise, your feet are rigorously pushed, giving you a stronger base of power without heavily affecting your knees. But, as you read more into leg pressing, you will understand just how much your posture and frame matter when performing such intense activities, which is why, getting your leg presses even slightly wrong can result in a permanent injury in your knee or your ankle.
Therefore, to get the most out of this workout, you’d need to hire a personal trainer, or practice under a gym-provided trainer, at least for a few months, to get the hang of the posture and frame, to be able to perform it properly, so as to not injure yourself.
To conclude, leg pressing is an amazing exercise when performed correctly, specifically targeting muscle groups in your thighs such as quads, glutes, and hamstrings, while also allowing a variation of working on your calf muscles. You can certainly decide to choose workouts regarding what you want to improve, i.e. your strength or your hypertrophy, two very different aspects of exercising. Also, make sure to get some professional guidance when you’re just beginning to practice this to help reduce chances of injury.
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