Women’s Weight Training 101: The Leg Press

leg press

Welcome to your first lesson in weight training for women!

You know how in the previous post Why Women & Men Should Weight Train Differently, celebrity trainer Holly Perkins said that every time you change an angle or push weight in a different direction, your body develops accordingly? Well, the Leg Press is a prime example of this.

The Leg Press is a fabulous machine for toning your legs and torching major calories by working some of the body’s largest muscles: the quads and the glutes. But the simple placement of your feet can mean the difference between looking this this:

cam-legsPhoto Credit: WENN

Or looking like this:

bodybuilder

Yikes!

Ok, so obviously I’m exaggerating. But the placement of your feet will determine what part of your leg you’re working, and some parts you may not want to work.

Holly told me that to get the long, lean, leggy actress look, you probably don’t want to build up your inner thigh. While you may think you’re toning that area because it burns, you are really making it more prominent.

This is the area I’m talking about:

legs-inner-thighPhoto Credit

Men’s Leg Press:

Men, who want to make their legs look large and more muscular, should place their feet in the center of the Leg Press plate, shoulders width apart, with their toes turned outward.

Men's Leg Press

When pushing, they should bring their knees toward the outside of their body, toward their shoulders. This will target the entire area, helping to build that inner thigh muscle.

The Women’s Adjustment:

Women, who want to streamline their toned-legs, should place their feet higher on the plate, hip width apart, with their toes facing straight upward.

women's leg press

The higher placement of the feet will help target the butt (important in bikini season), and the toe direction will bring the emphasis on the front of the quads. Women should also bring their knees toward their armpits instead of out to the side of their bodies, in order to avoid working that inner thigh.

Watch my video for an example:

Holly recommends that the average woman complete 4 sets of 12 reps using 50-90 pounds. And, as she mentioned yesterday, remember her three rules to avoid bulking up:

1. Technique Trumps All.
2. Focus on a slow negative and an enthusiastic positive phase of movement. This means, push the plate out hard and fast, but release slowly and steadily.
3. Ensure that the last 2 reps are a little lousy, but only the last 2 reps. If you’re not challenging yourself, you’re not changing!

Complete the Leg Press the right way, and you’ll look like Cameron in no time.

cameron-legsPhoto Credit: D9B.com

Stay tuned for the rest of the week to learn four more exercise modifications for women. By Saturday, you’ll have a full body workout!

Weigh In: Do use the leg press in the weight room? Have you ever considered your foot placement before? Let me know if you try this and what you think!

Comments

  1. Thanks for the tip! I use the leg press when I lift and I had no idea that simple feet placement could make such a difference. 🙂
    Elle@thewaybyelle recently posted…50 Healthy Food and Exercise Comment Luv BlogsMy Profile

    • Whitney English says:

      You’re welcome! I was surprised too but could definitely tell the difference when I tried it both ways.

  2. Inspiring post 🙂 I do the legpress almost every time I work my lower body! I love that machine along with regular squats!! 🙂
    Victoria recently posted…It’s the little thingsMy Profile

    • Whitney English says:

      Me too! I forgot to ask Holly (and now I plan on following up) if this same idea applies to squats too. For now I’m going to try to do them that way too: feet hip width, toes pointed forward.

      • Did you ever get any info about this? I’m curious because I usually do sumo squats.

        • Whitney English says:

          Hi Brittany! I did not end up asking but what I have found out since is that a proper squat is performed with your toes straight forward and knees going straight forward, to protect your knees. So I do them this way still anyway!

  3. I’m excited for this series of Women’s Weight Training!

  4. G’day Whitney,

    Great piece, good to see you pumping out quality content. Keep it up.
    Chris recently posted…#20 Why You’re NOT Losing Weight Despite Doing Everything Right pt.3My Profile

  5. Would you be willing to talk about the muscles difference in the feet positions? What muscles are being worked?

  6. I love the leg press and do understand about foot positions as I work with a Personal Trainer, however 90Ibs is not even a warm up? I hit 440Ibs and look NOTHING like the second, muscular photo, not even a tiny bit (thank god!) . . women can go heavy!

  7. afsaneh says:

    Hi, I watched this video and I’m going to practice. Would you please send me more exercise for legs. I have a very slim and soft legs.
    Thanks

    • Whitney English says:

      Hi there! I have several more leg workouts on the blog – just look under the fitness tab! xo

  8. Hi! I’m almost 60 and female and have been doing 20 reps with feet straight and 20 with feet at an angle with 150, 170, 190 lbs. My hips hurt and my jeans are tight. Maybe too much is just too much. That night I can barely walk. Probably due to a man who kept on me to do more. He’s gone now. I want to be healthy.

  9. Jessica says:

    I need a little guidance, if you could help me. I’ve been using the leg press about 3 times a week for a while now and it DOES seem that I’m building up my inner thigh which I DO NOT want to do. What would you suggest to do to lose inches on my inner thighs but still tone. Thankyou for any advise!

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