T Nation

Leg Press Questions


I'm still a newb, but first I would like to say to all the people here who deem leg presses as useless... nevermind, you're not worth it.

Been training almost a year now, I was born with strong legs, they're much stronger comparatively than the rest of my body. I love to do squats, but my back can't handle much weight yet (6 reps atg with a measly 165lb) , so I always go to the leg press after my squats to put on some real weight.

I've always done leg presses with nice full reps, heels touching my ass, but once I reached 200kg (440lb), I felt too much strain in my lower back. So now, anything above 200kg I stick to a 90 degree angle or just a bit past fearing for my back. With this form I'm up to 320kg (700lb) for 8 reps and I'm sure I can do much more, but I've only changed the form since a month or so.

Question 1 - Is it right to switch form after 200kg? or will my back adjust after time to the full reps, if I just take it slow?

2 - Can somebody tell me a good way to warm up to 320kg? This is how I do it now:

warmup[ 80/15 120/6 160/4 200/2 240/2 260/2 280/2 300/2 ] working sets - 320/8 320/8 320/8 180/30-full reps

3 - What do you think of the working sets? The last one's a killer. Would I be better off saving time and just doing 2 or 3 of those?

I'm sure SOMEBODY here like leg presses like me, HELP!!


Well, where is your back pain at? IF, you have a small bulging disc in you back, those "can" be asymptomatic when you are just going about your day at home and work. BUT, that 400plus pounds that is being moved by your legs is also making you tighten up your core, witch puts pressure on you spine and back muscles. That heavy weight is irritating the shit outa the disc, if it is a disc problem.

Your back muscles may need strengthening?


Are you leaning your upper body forward as you lower the weight?

And one more thing,...I have worked with many, many Orthopedic Surgeons in countless knee surgeries. BE VERY CAREFUL if you are actually letting your heels touch your bottom and the back of your calves are touching the back of your hams, cuz my friend, the cartilage and tendons are being shredded, microscopicly and very slowly. You can cut your healthy joint life span short.

When I do mine, I stop and press when my legs break 90.
Good luck and be careful.


I hate to say it, but if your heels really were touching your ass, then you had to be curling your ass up. This most definitely will put alot of strain on your lower back and is one of the reasons leg pressing sucks.

And on a side note, you can leg press 720lbs for 8 reps but can only squat 165lbs for 6? I find that VERY hard to believe. If it is the case then your #1 priority should be to strengthen whatever part of your back keeps you from squatting more.


The pain is in the lower back, and it is only from the rounding of the spine from the full rep combined with the higher amount of weight.

Also, what do you mean am I leaning my upper body forward? Should I be? Common sense tells me that would make it worse, let me know...

Thanks for the tip on the heels touching my bottom, I'll have to look in to that. Can I go farther than 90 in your opinion? or should I just stay safe always around 90??


I find it hard to believe too!! When I say 6 w/ 165, those are with good form. I can probably do a hundred or more reps with bad form until my back breaks.

My heels are touching my ass, and to think of it, when I do that I am curling my ass up, this would be the problem eh? So, you say leg pressing sucks, is it because heels to ass is bad for the spine or is it ok to do heels almost to the ass?

I'm deadlifting 350lb so I don't think the problem is my lowerback, and the way I lose form makes me pretty sure the problem is in my upper back, any ideas what to do?


The only thing the leg press is good for is inflating your ego... ditch it, and work on your squats.


doing full range of motion leg presses is more damaging to your back than regular squats? Learn to squat and learn to squat heavy. If your back can't handle it, that means you're weak. Switching to leg presses isn't going to correct the problem.


Well the reason I don't like leg presses (which I know you already said you didn't want to hear, but oh well :wink: is because with the fixed plane of motion it is hard to get a full range of motion with them without putting your body in a vulnerable position (curling your ass up).

Using them primarily because your back is not strong enough to squat heavy weights is not a good idea either. This is the same as using straps on deadlifts when grip is a limiting factor. It may provide a quick fix to allow you to keep progressing, but after a while it makes your problem even worse than it was to begin with. This is why I think you should drop leg presses altogether and make your sole focus being able to support heavy weights while you squat.


Have you tried changing your foot position on the leg press? Depending on the machine you are using and your bone lengths, insertion points and flexibility you may need to move your feet higher on the platform, spead your feet a little wider, point your toes out a little more, etc...

I like to either follow my squat day with leg presses or occaisonally do only leg presses on lower day. If you are following squats, you should need no more warmup than a single set of 12 reps with a wieght of 60-80% of your 12 rep max, and then 2 set of 8-15 reps with your 12 rep max. I also like to superset leg presses with good mornings, SLDL, RDL or hyperextensions after squats. I find that really helps my lower back feel stronger next squat day.

If your lower back is limiting your squat you also need to work on your form. Try to focus on moving your chest up and not allowing your back to colapse forward to minimize the stress on your back.


Every leg press I've ever used had mechanical stops that it bottoms out against before my heels get too close to my ass. Make sure you sit back against the seat and try putting your feet higher on the platform.

You sound exactly like (old) me by the way: I leg pressed 6 plates per side for 12 reps (all the way to the machine stops), I could dead lift 405x6, but my max squat was probably 185. Really tight inflexible hips and a bad-for-squats body shape kept me from squatting.

About six months ago I decided to suck it up and just squat, even if I was never going to be "good" at them. The thing is, even if you're just naturally built to suck at squats like I am, with six months dedication and good form you'll have a better squat than 99% of the lifters out there, including a ton of people who waste their time doing quarter squats.

Finally, while leg press is a perfectly fine exercise, ass to ground squats are the most effective lift I've ever done. Even when I'm doing them with less weight than the girl in the next rack over.