A leg press doesn't require a spotter.
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The leg press is often used as an alternative to the squat. It increases leg strength and power, shapes your glutes and promotes muscle growth. Yet, many trainers say that it's better to do squats, deadlifts and lunges instead. Even though the leg press doesn't build functional strength to the same extent as those exercises, it still has its benefits. Whether you want to torch calories, diversify your workout or add size to your legs, look no further.
Torch Some Calories
This gym machine doesn't burn as many calories as the treadmill or elliptical trainer, but it boosts your metabolism and stimulates hypertrophy. This means you'll keep torching calories long after finishing your workout.
Caloric expenditure depends on your weight, fitness level, the time spent during the exercise and workout intensity. For example, doing lots of reps with lighter weights at high intensity may burn more calories than completing five or six reps with a heavy load. The latter, however, will elicit a higher metabolic response.
A 180-pound individual using the leg press can expect to burn approximately 58 calories in 15 minutes. Since this machine is typically used along with other exercises, the calories burned will add up quickly. Immediately after a strength-training session, your body begins to repair damaged tissues and replenish its glycogen stores. This process increases your energy expenditure for several hours.
Why Use the Leg Press?
While it's true that there are better ways to burn calories than using the leg press, this gym machine can boost your gains. Leg press exercises recruit multiple muscles and build lower body strength. The more mass you have, the faster your metabolism.
Additionally, compound movements elicit a greater hormonal response, causing your body to produce more testosterone and growth hormone (GH). This further contributes to hypertrophy and athletic performance. The benefits don't end here.
According to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, subjects who used this gym machine for eight weeks experienced a significant reduction in patellofemoral (knee) pain. Other studies have found that both electrical stimulation and leg press exercises may improve force and mobility in sedentary elderly people.
Since this gym machine builds leg strength, it can boost your range of motion and physical conditioning. In a study, seniors who used this piece of equipment experienced a 40 percent increase in maximal leg press load and a 32 percent increase in isometric strength. This led to improved gait speed, which translates into better overall health and reduced injury risk.
Furthermore, leg press exercises are gentler on the spine and joints compared to the barbell back squat, for instance. They're also more accessible to beginners and may help with your lifting form too. The risk of injury is lower because your back is flat against the padding. Plus, this gym machine makes it easier to incorporate drop sets, pyramid sets and other lifting techniques into your workout - without using a spotter.
Burn More Calories and Fat
The leg press is a great choice for those who wish to slim down. For example, you can perform more reps with low to moderate loads at high intensity. This will skyrocket your heart rate and put stress on your muscles, leading to more calories burned.
Another thing you can do is use drop sets. Perform at least six reps with heavy weights on the leg press machine and then reduce the load by about 10 percent and squeeze in more reps until you reach muscle failure. This counts as one set. Repeat three or four times. Your quads and glutes will be on fire.
Due to its versatility, the leg press makes it easier to keep your workouts varied and hit your muscles from different angles. Placing your feet higher, for instance, will engage your glutes and hamstrings. To target your quads, place your legs lower on the machine. For an intense glute workout, press through your heels. Diversifying your routine is a good way to keep your muscles guessing and prevent fitness plateaus.