The floor or 45 degree leg press is one of the best weightlifting routines you can do for shaping and strengthening legs, as well as burning up fat.
Depending on how you use the 45 degree leg press machine, you can build significant muscle mass, if that is your goal.
As simple as use of the floor leg press equipment sounds, there are some mistakes that often get made.
The “horizontal” leg press machine is similar to the floor version, but this article will focus on the floor leg press because it’s more effective than the horizontal version.
However, most of the mistakes that I often see people commit on the 45 degree leg press are the same that I see done with the horizontal.
The following are mistakes on the floor leg press:
#1: Locking out the knees at the end of the push-out of the platform. I’ve even seen legs actually hyperextended.
Oddly, it’s always a woman who hyperextends the legs (knee lockout) with the 45 degree leg press.
Locking out the knees can lead to cartilage damage. Plus, it’s a cheat move in that it momentarily takes tension off the thighs and butt, which is what you want to target with the leg press. Continuous muscle tension will produce far better results.
#2: Pushing off with the balls of your feet; lifting your heels from the platform. This makes it easier to push, but it takes some work away from your thighs and butt, and transfers it to your calves.
Do you want to shape and tone your butt/thighs, or your calves? If you want to work the calves, there are calf-raise machines.
If you want to work the thighs and butt, keep your feet flat on the leg press platform.
#3: Allowing your butt to lift off the seat as you lower the weight towards you. It’s hard to avoid doing this if you want to go down deeply.
But be more aware of it; this can strain the lower back. Do lower back stretching exercises to improve this area’s flexibility.
#4: Never doing deep lowering. If the resistance is heavy enough, you can’t lower the weight deeply with the floor leg press. A very heavy routine permits only a 90 degree leg bend.
However, you should also work the entire range of motion, a deep release of the weight.
This will recruit different muscles, and in a different way, than from a 90 degree release. You’ll need to use lighter weights, of course.
Don’t go overboard with deep releases if your body is not used to them, or you might get a muscle pull.
Use very light weights to start, to gradually introduce the muscles/tendons to this move.
Don’t make these mistakes with the floor leg press, and you’ll get results much faster as well as reduce risk of injury.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.