Leg Exercise Equipment

Leg Exercise Equipment…The Leg Press

Our legs are the main support for our body. We use our legs for standing, walking, jumping, running, kicking, and similar activities, and constitute a significant portion of our weight. Hence, it is important to have strong legs. There are several forms of exercises that we can do to strengthen our legs, such as running and squatting.

A piece of leg exercise equipment that is very helpful in toning and strengthening legs is the leg press machine. The leg press is a fitness machine commonly used in weight training. It involves an exercise in which the individual pushes a weight or resistance away from them using their legs.  It can be used to assess an athlete’s overall lower body strength.

There are two types of leg presses, the diagonal, or vertical, sled type leg press and the cable type leg press, or seated leg press. The diagonal or vertical sled type leg press uses weight disks (plates) attached directly to the sled that slide along a vertical or diagonal track. The user sits in a padded seat facing toward the ceiling below the weighted platform and pushes it upward with his or her feet as the weights provide resistance. These machines normally have adjustable safety brackets that prevent the user from being trapped under the weight.  On the other hand, the cable type leg press or seated leg press uses a steel cable attached to weighted disks. The user sits in a padded seat and pushes his or her feet forward against a plate.

Using a leg press works and sculpts leg muscles such as the quadriceps, hamstring, gluteus maximus, and calves. Targeting specific muscle groups can be done by changing the angle between the sled and the backrest and/or the position of the feet on the plate. Minor changes in foot position on the footplate shift the exercise emphasis to a specific targeted muscle group. The “normal” leg press foot position is when your feet are about shoulder-width apart and placed in the middle of the leg press footplate. Moving your feet higher on the foot plate shifts your center of gravity to the rear, putting more stress on the hamstrings and glutes. Placing your feet below the normal position reverses the effect and shifts the emphasis more on the quadriceps. Putting your feet apart with a wide distance between your feet, targets the inner leg, specifically the vastus medialis and the adductor muscles. A narrow stance increase vastus lateralis involvement of the outer thigh.

This leg exercise equipment should be adjusted properly for the user’s height and strength. The legs should be bent at the knees at about a ninety degree angle upon sitting, with feet approximately shoulder width apart resting flat against the plate. If the angle is beyond ninety degrees, the exercise will only work on a portion of the muscle group. An angle of less than ninety degrees puts too much stress on the joints.