The leg press machine is always one that you should consider using on leg day because this powerful piece of equipment will really help you help bigger quads, whilst also strengthening your hamstrings and your glutes.
If you do decide to perform this exercise, you will find that you can really load the machine with a lot of weight because your legs are exceptionally strong.
The negative effect of this, however, is that it is very easy to injure yourself if you don’t concentrate on what you are doing and practice correct form at all times.
So here are some of the things you can do to stay safe when using the leg press machine:
Don’t Bend Your Knees Inwards
The leg press is a relatively simple exercise to perform because it doesn’t require a lot of balance or technique, like the squat exercise, for example. Nevertheless you do need to make sure that you keep your legs apart with your knees pointing outwards ever so slightly, and don’t let them come together because this is a sure-fire way of damaging your knees, particularly if you are using heavy weights.
Don’t Lock Your Knees Out
It is never a good idea to fully lock your knees or your elbows when performing various different exercises, and this is equally true when performing the leg press. In this case it is the knees that could potentially get injured if you fully straighten your legs at the top of the movement because of the undue pressure put on them by the heavy weight. So you should always try to leave your legs slightly bent at this point.
Don’t Press With Your Toes
Most people who use this machine are just focused on moving the weight with their legs by whatever means possible, but it is very important that you press with your heels and not your toes because otherwise you are again putting a lot of stress on your knee joints.
Don’t Engage Your Lower Back
Another thing to remember is that this is solely a lower body exercise for your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Your legs should be doing all of the work, and you certainly don’t want to be bringing your back into play because this could easily lead to injury. So to avoid this happening, you simply need to ensure that you don’t let the weight come down too low where your knees are right up against your chest, because this is the point when your back will start to take over.
Be Careful Lifting And Re-Racking The Weights
The final thing you should do to avoid getting injured is to take extra care both before and after you commence this exercise. These machines tend to use heavy 45-pound weight plates. Therefore you don’t want to be lifting them off the floor or the weight rack with a rounded back when you are loading the machine with weights, and you don’t want to get your fingers trapped when you are putting the weights back on the rack when you have finished.
The leg press machine has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous machines in the gym because of its potential to damage your knees and back, but as with many of the other exercise machines, it is perfectly safe to use if you use correct form and concentrate on what you are doing.