16 Legendary Leg Press Benefits Backed By Science
Everybody knows that you can’t spell ‘leg day’ without the word ‘legendary’ which is why we’re looking at 16 legendary leg press benefits in today’s article.
Walk into any “bro” gym up and down the country and you’ll notice how every bench press station is taken, how every preacher curl machine is in use, and how everybody in the free weights section seems to be doing endless bicep curls while admiring their gains in the mirror.
Check out the squat racks and leg machines, however, and it’s a very different story.
When it comes to hardcore training, those who truly know what it means to train hardcore will tell you that training legs are the hardest training day of the week, yet you also have to admit that a truly epic physique must be topped off with a set of strong and powerful legs.
Squats often grab the headlines when it comes to working your legs, yet today we’re looking at the leg press machine, which is highly underrated as far as we’re concerned.
- 1 The History Of The Leg Press Machine:
- 2 So, What Are The Many Leg Press Benefits?
- 2.1 1. Stronger Butt
- 2.2 2. Shapely Butt
- 2.3 3. Great For Warming Up On Leg Day
- 2.4 4. Work Different Parts Of The Body
- 2.5 5. Burn Fat
- 2.6 6. Great Assistance Exercise For Deadlifts
- 2.7 7. Great For Bragging Rights
- 2.8 8. Breakthrough Plateaus
- 2.9 9. Different Types To Try
- 2.10 10. Injury Prevention
- 2.11 11. Very Adaptable
- 2.12 12. Great For Drop Sets
- 2.13 13. Great Leg Finisher
- 2.14 14. Run Faster
- 2.15 15. Jump Higher
- 2.16 16. Muscular Legs
- 3 The Conclusion:
- 4 FAQs About Leg Press:
The History Of The Leg Press Machine:
Before we can start looking at why the leg press machine is one of the best pieces of equipment you could wish for when it comes to training your legs, first off, let’s look at where this leg day staple originated, shall we?
Here’s a brief overview of the history of the leg press machine.
Whereas some exercises can be traced over several centuries, the history of the leg press takes us back just a little over one century.
In the early 1910s, there are references to leg presses in various workout routines and programs.
Does that mean that lifters had access to leg press machines as we see in gyms today?
Back then, lifters would lay flat on their backs balancing a barbell on the flats of their heels and would extend their legs to “press” the bar.
Needless to say, this was very dangerous and lifters would often only perform partial reps because the higher they lifted their legs into the air, the more unstable the bar would become.
Now, some of you may think that that is absurd and extremely dangerous and be glad that we don’t do it nowadays, but in reality, a lot of people do still perform a variation of this exercise on a smith machine, which is much safer.
The First Leg Press Machines:
For much of the early 1900s, if you wanted to work your hamstrings in this manner, you would have to try your luck and take your chances with a barbell.
All of that changed, however, in the 1960s, when machines began taking over.
One strongman who owned his own gym on the East Coast of the USA, who went by the name of Sig Klein, enjoyed the barbell leg press so much that he decided to create his own version of the exercise, which he called the ‘Tomb of Hercules’.
This was a device that featured a board attached to a wall securely with chains at the top, and hinges at the bottom, equipped with a weight tree for loading your plates onto.
The lifter would lay on their backs and press the board with their feet, rather than a barbell.
What’s interesting is that, rather than pressing at 90-degrees, lifters would instead press the weight at a 45-degree angle, which is commonly how we use the leg press today.
However, a man named George Jowett invented a vertical leg press machine variant, which was basically a heavy box attached to a rope, which lifters would push into the air with their feet.
Nowadays, it’s 45-degree leg press machines styled after Klein’s design that is, by far, the most common in the gym, but up until the 1980s/1990s, it was vertical leg press machines styles on Jowett’s invention that proved most popular.
As the years went by, companies such as Nautilus began creating their own unique designs of leg press, and while tweaks were made, and while we still have horizontal leg press variants too, it is the 45-degree leg press machine that is most common and arguably the most popular, in gyms around the globe.
So, What Are The Many Leg Press Benefits?
1. Stronger Butt
Ever wanted buns of steel? Well, now, thanks to the leg press machine, that is precisely what you can have.
The leg press machine is an awesome piece of kit for people looking to strengthen their glute muscles.
Even though the exercise is primarily designed to hit the quads and hamstrings because your body uses your glute muscles as stabilizers, your buttocks become stronger and firmer, which in turn will help you to lift more and generate more power.
2. Shapely Butt
Not only will your glute muscles become stronger when leg pressing, but you’ll also find that as you strengthen these muscles and build them up, your glutes will also take more shape.
If you thought that the squat was the only exercise designed to help you build around and peachy booty, think again because another example of the awesome benefits we’re looking at today is the fact that leg pressing is great for building a shapely butt.
3. Great For Warming Up On Leg Day
Either before you’re due to take part in a leg training session, or if you just want to warm your legs up, perhaps for a long cycle of a marathon training session, the leg press is a great piece of machinery to use.
The great thing about leg press machines is that you can make the exercise as easy or as hard as you like, by simply altering the position of your feet, and altering the amount of weight that you lift accordingly.
Leg presses will work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves, and will help increase your circulation, get the blood flowing, and loosen stiff lower body joints.
4. Work Different Parts Of The Body
Another of the legendary benefits we need to discuss today is the fact that the leg press machine is great for working different parts of the body.
Okay, yes, it is a machine that is exclusively for working the lower body, but by simply adjusting the position of your feet on the plates and the angle, you can hit different muscle groups accordingly.
To hit the outer quads and hamstrings, for example, you can go with a wider stance, and vice versa with much more of a narrower stance and foot position.
5. Burn Fat
This machine might not be a treadmill or found in the cardio section of the gym, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t effective at burning fat.
Any form of physical exertion requires energy, and your body is only able to generate energy by burning calories.
Therefore, the more physically intense the exercise is, the more calories you will burn.
When using this machine, you’ll see that it isn’t easy and by the end of each session, you’ll certainly find yourself feeling physically drained.
Therefore, you are burning calories and by default, you’ll be losing weight and burning fat in the process.
6. Great Assistance Exercise For Deadlifts
Right now, it’s safe to say that the deadlifts are the daddy of all gym lifts.
Somewhat controversially, Thor Bjornsson currently holds the world record at 501 kgs, beating Eddie Hall’s 500 kg, whereas the 400kg record for reps, currently stands at 6, being held by Rauno Heinla.
Years ago, 400kg deadlifts were the stuff of dreams for most powerlifters and strongmen, yet now strongmen and powerlifters are warming up with this weight for reps!
If you’re chasing a heavy deadlift, the leg press is actually a great machine to use as assistance.
Leg presses make for fantastic assistance exercises for the deadlift as they strengthen the hamstrings, quads, and core, which all play integral parts in the deadlift.
7. Great For Bragging Rights
If you really want to show off and brag with your buddies about how much weight you can lift with your legs, forget squats, the leg press machine is the way to go.
We know that there is no place in the gym to forego lifting, but every now and then it does feel nice to load up a machine with heaps of plates and just go ahead and rep it out to failure.
Put simply, leg pressing allows you to press a great deal more weight than you can squat, so you can go ahead and load the machine up with plenty of plates and rep it to fail.
Psychologically, having all of these plates on the machine gives you a boost and makes you feel strong, plus it also makes for a great post on Instagram and looks very impressive.
Remember, though, showing off in the gym is a douche thing to do, so don’t blame us if other people laugh at you.
8. Breakthrough Plateaus
Another of the legendary leg day benefits we’re looking at today is the fact that the leg press will help you to break through plateaus.
We’ve already looked at how it can help you to bring up your deadlift, but in truth, it can help you push through numerous other plateaus as well.
When training, we all hit plateaus from time to time where we can’t seem to lift any more weight, or perhaps improve upon a certain time for a specific exercise, and at the time, it can get very frustrating.
If for example, your squat has been stuck at the same weight for months and you just can’t seem to improve, you may want to go ahead and start using the leg press machine more frequently instead.
The machine strengthens certain muscles, loosens joints, and just simply helps to make you stronger and more efficient athletically.
9. Different Types To Try
The most common type of leg press machine found in commercial gyms is one with a flat sled/platform and the seat set at roughly a 45-degree angle.
If you’re sick of using this type of machine, or simply if you feel like a change and want to try something new, you can also use vertical leg press machines or horizontal machines.
With vertical machines, you’re flat on your back and push the platform into the air with your legs straight above you.
With horizontal leg press machines, you’re set upright and push the platform in front of you by simply extending your legs that way.
As each machine works the legs in a slightly different way, you’ll hit different muscle groups with each machine that you happen to use.
10. Injury Prevention
When exercising, there is always a risk for injury, no matter how careful you happen to be.
With that said, there are certain things that you can do that will help to protect you and reduce your risk of injury, and leg pressing is one of them.
Because of the mechanics of the machine, there is no pressure placed upon the joints, and if you go light, it’s a great way to stretch out the muscle fibers and get your blood pumping, without risking an injury.
As the machine will also strengthen your leg muscles, this will also reduce your risk of injury.
11. Very Adaptable
Whether you’re a seasoned lifter or a complete novice, the leg press machine is a great piece of kit.
Using it is comparatively simple, and once you do know how to safely use it, you can scale your workouts up and down accordingly.
Basically, the machine is as easy or hard as you want to make it, so if you are just looking for a light muscle pump and to get the blood pumping, you can just throw a couple of plates on and go from there.
If however, you’re looking for a killer leg session, just throw heaps of plates on.
We don’t, however, recommend having a training partner sit on the machine like you see some meatheads doing on social media, nor do we recommend that you leg press 1,000kg like Eddie Hall did, as he consequently blacked out for a few seconds.
12. Great For Drop Sets
Sometimes, to really ensure that the target muscle is fried at the end of an exercise, you might want to try a drop set.
Drop sets on the leg press machine are ideal, especially with a training partner as you can have them unload the plates from each side between each set.
13. Great Leg Finisher
As well as warming up your legs, the leg press machine is also a great piece of equipment for topping off an absolutely brutal leg session.
Say, for example, you go ahead and do squats, leg extensions, wall sit, hack squats, hamstring curls, walking lunges (or any alternatives to lunges), and calf raises, why not top everything off by jumping on the leg press machine and finishing with this awesome piece of kit.
14. Run Faster
So far, when talking about the many benefits that are available to be had, we’ve mainly focused on strength and muscle mass.
While the machine is used by bodybuilders and strength athletes, athletes in general also use it frequently, due to the fact it is so effective when it comes to improving your speed.
The muscles worked, along with the fast-twitch muscle fibers work, allow you to generate more explosive power in your legs.
This in turn allows you to run faster, which is beneficial for a number of reasons.
We can’t promise that you’ll be the next Usain Bolt, but we can promise that leg pressing frequently will allow you to run that little bit faster.
15. Jump Higher
Not only does the leg press machine allow you to run faster, but it also helps you to jump higher.
If you’re involved in a sport that requires you to jump, perhaps basketball, then the leg press machine is one which you should familiarize yourself with the next time you’re at the gym.
As the machine works on your fast-twitch muscle fibers and builds muscle, this explosive power generated by the legs not only makes them stronger and faster, it also allows you to generate more force so you can jump higher into the air.
16. Muscular Legs
Despite the many benefits that we’ve looked at today, we haven’t actually mentioned the fact that the leg press machine will help you to build lean and muscular legs.
If you want to improve your physique, leg pressing is a great way to do that as you work so many muscles in your legs when you perform the exercise.
As you know, skipping leg days like a bodybuilder is the ultimate sin, especially when you consider the fact that strong and powerful legs just make any physique look that much better.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about the leg press benefits, and why you should try it.
Tom Platz is probably considered the king of legs, though honorable mention must go to Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Frank Zane, and Branch Warren.
Former BSN athlete Trey Brewer, also had freaky quads, while Animal’s Erik ‘The House’ Fanhouser had/has some of the biggest calves we’ve ever seen in our lives.
What do they all have in common?
Well, they all used the leg press machine as part of their leg training routines, and you should too.
FAQs About Leg Press:
Should You Do Squats And Leg Press On The Same Day?
Yes! Squats are great for your legs, but if you don’t have time to rest between them, then you should perform both exercises back-to-back. Leg presses can help build muscle mass, but they’re not as effective at building muscle endurance compared to squatting.
This is because the muscles that are used in leg pressing are different than those used in squatting. Squatting uses quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Leg pressing uses only the quadriceps. So, if you want to build muscle endurance, then you need to focus on doing squats. If you want to build muscle mass, then you should do leg presses.
Is Leg Press Better Than Squats?
Leg Presses are great for building muscle mass but they can cause knee problems.
Squats are much safer and less likely to cause injury. Leg presses are great for building muscle but not if your goal is to build size.
How Many Reps Should You Do On A Leg Press?
The number of repetitions that you perform on a leg press machine is directly proportional to how much weight you can lift. This means that if you are able to lift 20 pounds, then you should be performing 20 repetitions. If you are not able to lift 20 pounds yet, then start off with 10 repetitions and work your way up from there.