The leg press is a weight training exercise in which the individual pushes a weight away from them using their legs. The term leg press also refers to the apparatus used to perform this exercise. The leg press can be used to evaluate an athlete's overall lower body strength (from knee joint to hip and partially ankle extendors as well).
There are two main types of leg press:
- The diagonal or vertical 'sled' type leg press. Cast iron weight disks (plates) are attached directly to the sled, which is mounted on rails. The user sits below the sled and pushes it upward with their feet. These machines normally include adjustable safety brackets that prevent the user from being trapped under the weight.
- The 'cable' type leg press, or 'seated leg press', commonly found on multigyms. The user sits upright and pushes forward with their feet onto a plate that is attached to the weight stack by means of a long steel cable.
The leg press works the following muscle groups:
Varying the angle between the sled and the backrest and/or the position of the feet on the plate puts more emphasis on one or the other muscle group. The leg press is a compound exercise, meaning that it involves movement around more than one joint.
Magnitude of Leg Press Lifts
Since the leg press stabilizes the lifter and moves weights in a direction that is not vertical, it is possible for strength trainers to press very heavy weights (compared to the weight used for other exercises). Bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman is featured in videos wherein he leg presses 2300 pounds (1 043 kg). To compare, the world record for the squat is 1213 pounds (550.5 kg geared), according to Monster Muscle Online.
Often, the amount of weight that is used for a 'leg press' may seem to be artificially high. For example, television host Pat Robertson claims to have leg pressed 2,000 pounds (around 900 kg) and a later statement also claimed that his doctor was capable of a 2,700 pound (1225 kg) leg press. An AskMen.com article states that it is not uncommon for men to leg press over 500 pounds, with some men going over 1000 pounds using a limited-range of motion. However, a true leg press requires the full range of motion. Typically a person cannot do much more than double the weight of their standard 1-repetition, full-range leg-press when attempting limited-range strength straining (i.e., if they can do 500 pounds full-range they could do no more than 1,000 pounds for limited range training).
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