The leg press is a handy machine for people who have issues that prevent them from doing squats. The leg press is easier on the knees and back; the shoulders do not bear the burden of pressing up a heavy bar. The amount of weight an individual can put on a leg press is a little misleading, though, as the weight sled bears some of the pressure. While there is no universal average leg press weight, there are guidelines that can help you choose the right weight for an effective workout.
The seated leg press works the gluteus maximus, quadriceps and hamstrings, otherwise known as the butt, legs and thighs. It is considered a beginner's machine by the American Council on Exercise. There is no balance required, as stabilization is provided by the mechanical sled.
Body Weight Matters
If you've never worked on the leg press before, a good average weight to begin with is your body weight. This will likely seem too easy no matter what your fitness level since the machine does some of the work of supporting the weight for you. Using your body weight will get you used to the movement, however, and you can scale up from there by adding more plates to each side of the sled. Always put an equal amount of weight on each side.
There is one basic exercise on a leg press, and it requires simply that you extend your legs fully, pushing against the foot plate, then return to the starting position. As with any workout machine, you should exhale when you are supporting the weight. More advanced users can try extending the weighted sled using only one leg at a time.
A lifter of average ability and fitness should be able to press just under twice her own body weight. However, with a little practice, 2.5 times body weight is a reasonable goal.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.