How to Properly Leg Press for Maximum Muscle Gains

Ever wondered why even smallish guys with moderate training backgrounds can stack up the 45lb plates either side of a 45-degree leg press?  We can really push a lot of weight on leg press machine because we are at an angle of 45 degrees our backs are taken out of the lift, we have no real reliance on our core and the number of assistance muscles is greatly reduced. So it’s easy to get carried away adding dozen-plus plates on the machine and being proud of pressing 450lbs plus per set.

Why Leg Press Over Traditional Barbell Squat?

Leg press workout uses the muscles of the thighs and buttocks. It is considered less risky than the bar squat because the load is distributed over the entire back thanks to the back support of the leg press machine. It is a good bodybuilding exercise for the lower legs because you will be able to work the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the glutes, and the calves.

How to Perform Leg Press?

Place yourself on the leg press machine, feet on the platform shoulder-width apart, back firmly against the back support. Hold the two handles that are on each side. Take off the load until your legs are almost straight but not fully stretched. Do not lock the joints at the end of the movement. Return to the starting position, never round your lower back. You can utilize different foot positions on the leg press machine to target different muscles. Read this guide to learn more about leg press foot placement variations

How Gain Maximum Muscle Hypertrophy from Leg Press?

The way to make more muscle with a leg press machine is to work on tempo and constant tension.  Forget about stacking the plates, instead work on the intensity and forcing more time under tension to force muscular hypertrophy.

Here is a sample leg press workout that I throw in every now and then to break up a program to create a different stimulus, and to shock up the system.

Say you can leg press 500lbs for a set of 10 and this is a true 10 rep max as in your eyes are popping and a 10th rep is going to make you pass out.  Drop the weight by 20% and work on maximizing the intensity through not locking out on the top of the lift, therefore forcing the legs to be under constant tension, not, allowing a pause in between the concentric and eccentric cross over of the lift and also slowing the tempo of the eccentric (lowering) portion of the lift.

Try this for 3-4 weeks to break up your leg pressing:

Sets of 5×10 reps with a tempo to equal 1 second up 0 seconds pause and 6 seconds down!  Yes, a 6-second slow eccentric rep, for 10 reps on a good weight will be tough, you’ll feel the burn right through legs and glutes, it is tough to get a spotter to be with you to really push you through the last few reps.

If you really want to burn it out finish the sets of 5×10 with strict tempo style, then take a 2 min break and do a normal tempo drop set allowing for at least 3 sets of 10, taking a plate of either side of the machine will suffice for the reduction in poundage.  Killer!

To make the workout super killer I like to spend a 3-week block and do a whole leg workout with similar tempo restrictions to really increase the intensity.  You can do this with many other compound lifts and you will find a new level of strength and power when you come to lifting with normal tempo again.

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