Although using the leg press seems pretty straight forward, there are a number of different tips that can help you get the most out of the exercise. When it comes to working out, you want to make sure you don't cheat yourself. While taking shortcuts may benefit you at that particular moment in time, you will end up robbing yourself of the benefits the exercise, when done properly, would have given you. These tips will help ensure you do the leg press as effectively as possible.
First, make sure you don't cheat by placing your hands on your knees or thighs. A number of individuals will do this and actually attempt to press the weight down. If you feel you need to grip something in order to power through the reps, place your hands on the handlebars. It doesn't matter where you place your hands, so long as they don't go near your legs. Most find that placing their hands behind their head on the backrest is a great place to center their energy.
Make sure you don't lock your knees. This is important for a number of reasons. First, locking your knees can be extremely dangerous, especially if you are using extremely heavy weights. There have been quite a few incidents where individuals have severely hurt themselves because of this. Second, locking your knees, even if it doesn't cause bodily harm, will make it much more difficult to bend your knees in order to do the next rep. You will exert unnecessary amounts of energy simply getting your legs back to the starting position, and you won't be able to adequately perform the exercise.
Keep your back flat and your neck straight. While it may seem helpful at the time, arching your back to push the weight up can be very harmful to your lower back. Your lower back muscles are pulled and strained on a daily basis, and the last thing you want to do is put that type of stress on them. Also, make sure you don't bend your neck or look down while performing the exercise. Look straight and try and keep your neck relaxed as you breathe through the exercise. If you can't push the weight without lifting off the seat or arching your back then you are using too much weight. Make sure you don't jump to the next level too quickly, but instead add weight week by week to prevent injuries.
Using too much weight can also cause your legs to bow inward, which is what would happen if you locked your knees in a straight position between each rep. If this is occurring and you don't feel you are using too much weight, then you should reevaluate where you have your feet placed. Too wide of a stance will place unnecessary pressure on your knees.
Make sure you focus the energy in your heels and not the balls of your feet. This is a much more efficient way to push through the exercise. It will help you to not only conserve energy but avoid injury as well. Be conscious of where you are placing the stress of the exercise as you perform each rep, and you will perform the leg press effectively.