The 2-Minute Leg Exercise that Reshapes Your Body
If you could spend two minutes doing something that had the power to drastically reshape your body, would you do it?
We’re talking about the Leg Press. But not just any ol’ Leg Press….
Slow-motion strength training leg press.
How it works.
The Leg Press Machine is an incredible piece of equipment because it allows you to fully target the biggest muscle groups in the body, the legs and glutes.
Like all slow-motion strength training exercises, you only need to perform it for about 1-2 minutes, assuming you are working with an ideal amount of resistance needed to achieve muscle success within that time frame.
There are more exercises involved in a full workout, but the leg press is the best investment of your workout time.
Because the leg press addresses all major muscles in the entire leg in one brief exercise.
These muscles are the prime movers in the leg press.
- Gluteus (the buttocks)
- Quadriceps (front of thigh)
- Hamstrings (back of thigh)
In addition, there are major lower leg muscles involved,
- the gastrocnemius (calves)
- tibialis anterior (front)
Before you start the exercise, your Trainer will assess your form checkpoints and the weight you’re pushing to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Upon beginning, you’ll slowly push through your heels, keeping your buttocks down in the seat, pushing each repetition to the point just shy of locking out your knees…check, check, and check.
The exercise progresses and fatigue starts creeping in. This is a good thing!
Your thighs and buttocks are working hard to get the weight to move slowly on the lowering phase of the repetition. You’re putting in at least 90% of your maximum effort to produce movement on the lifting phase of the last one or two reps.
Then it happens – movement stops. Even though you’re pushing as hard and as fast as you can, your current repetition ceases to move. Muscle Success. You ease the footplate back until the weight returns to its home on the weight stack, and your leg press set is over. You’re out of breath and your legs are momentarily a little unstable to stand on.
Well, If it's That Easy…
Woah, woah woah.
The exercise is simple, but we never said it was easy.
In fact, any slow-motion strength training exercise is very challenging and should be if we want it to be effective.
One of the hardest hurdles to overcome with SMST, especially the Leg Press is “the burn.”
This is what’s called lactic acid buildup- a totally normal sensation during weight training.
It’s Worth the Burn.
When training to muscle success, the leg press maximizes the amount of muscle fibers that can be used in the exercise. Other leg exercises in your workout simply serve to complement the leg press by putting extra emphasis on individual muscles.
It’s the leg press’ efficiency that leads to the need for so few lower body exercises. Many people who workout in other “regular” gyms commonly spend 45 minutes to an hour on “leg day,” but the leg portion of a workout at The Perfect Workout often takes less than 10 minutes, largely due to the efficiency and effectiveness of a challenging set on the leg press.
Who Doesn’t Want a Better Backside?
As far as aesthetics go, the leg press gives shape to two of the most aesthetically driven areas: the thighs and butt. The quadriceps are the main thigh muscles used in the leg press. When you add lean muscle to your thighs, the quads give your thighs an ovular shape.
The largest buttocks muscle is the gluteus maximus, which is used significantly in the leg press. It covers most of the distance between the bottom of your butt and the lowest point in your lumbar spine. When adding lean muscle to your gluteus maximus, it gives enhanced shape and an improved profile view.
It’s Improving the Inside too
As far as bone density, the major sites of concern for osteoporosis are the hips and lumbar spine. These are the common sites of fractures in seniors.
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at bone density changes in women between 65 and 75 years old following a year of strength training.
During the study, the trend of bone loss that comes with age not only stopped, but also reversed.
The leg press was the only major lower body exercise performed. In addition, it was credited with helping the lower back, as no direct exercise was performed for the lower back muscles. By improving bone density, the leg press reduces the risk of fractures in high-risk populations.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of the benefits associated with the leg press. For example, regular leg press performance has improved athletic measures, quality of life, and decreased arthritis pain in other studies.
The leg press provides as much or more bang-for-the-buck as any one exercise does.
If you take anything from this article, let it be this: embrace the leg press. Work until muscle success every time you get on the machine, and think of the intense effort it requires as a medium to get a plethora of desired benefits.
Rhodes, E. C., Martin, A. D., Taunton, J. E., Donnelly, M., Warren, J., & Elliot, J. (2000). Effects of one year of resistance training on the relation between muscular strength and bone density in elderly women. British journal of sports medicine, 34(1), 18-22.
Jordan Thomson is passionate about fitness and helping others live sustainably healthy lives. Jordan joined The Perfect Workout in 2013 as a Personal Trainer in Newport Beach, CA. Since then she has helped expand our company with new studios in Chicago, IL and led teams of trainers in Philadelphia as well as Los Angeles. Now she serves as a creative mind within the Marketing team to help spread our mission to revolutionize the way people exercise.