“Seated leg press” has become so popular exercise in bodybuilding era but fortunately, as our knowledge has been rising, people have realized that it’s something you should avoid in today’s functional era. People are trying to produce some new leg press machines which looks much better but still it’s not a functional pattern. In this article, I will shortly try to highlight disadvantages of the classic leg press machine from the cover photo.
When it comes to “seated leg press”, it’s impossible to execute ALMOST full range of motion in hip joint (I said “almost” because full hip flexion is something you should avoid because of “butt wink” – learn more HERE, and full hip extension is very desirable but unachievable here). First is dangerous for lower back (even more when spine is on the bench in relatively relaxed position because we can damage lower back ligaments – there is no need for additional core stabilization because low back lays on the bench) and second is useless because the strong glutes are among the most important things not only on some beach, but in sport also (in what is called more injury reduction than injury prevention – we can influence to reduce injuries but can’t absolutely prevent them).
When it comes to hip flexion, “full ROM” is desirable but only with exercises when one leg is down while another up (“step up” is a good example), because “butt wink” will occur in opposite. By placing feet at higher starting position (most people will do it because you can engage back chain muscles more on that way) you can even reach “butt wink” earlier during the hip flexion part of the movement. I mean you can avoid “butt wink” (when it comes to “seated leg press”) by widening your feet and knees, and turning toes out in starting position also (+ shorter ROM of course – but it’s individual), but there is still a bunch of better – functional exercises.
Single leg “Seated leg press” is almost the only option where “butt wink” doesn’t occur because non-working leg is down and therefore less chance for pelvis is to make posterior tilt caused by both legs hip flexion movement (non-working leg makes counterbalance by trying to keep pelvic tilt anteriorly). But some micro rotations can occur in pelvis by doing that variation (or any split squat variation under heavy weights) which can cause pain in lower back/pelvic area whoever goes too far – overuse split legs exercises. All in all, “Seated leg press” is not functional exercise in any variation.
Yes, “Seated leg press” it’s the multijoint exercise but nonfunctional and therefore the absolutely useless one. Have you ever seen even similar movement in real life? Probably not, except when you try to defend yourself in some stupid sport like MMA 🙂 .
If you try to prepare muscles by doing something unspecific, they will get “confused” (different inside-and-between muscular coordination) and improperly prepared for the real life. You can incorporate this exercise if you are in rehab process (like any other machine) but there is still a ton of better options for that purpose (options where you can “kill a few birds with one stone”).
Therefore, doing some more natural double/single leg movements like various types of squat, split squat, deadlift, lunge… is essential! For example, I would always do “box” squat instead, or “goblet” squat, or TRX squat if you are overweight (not with full ROM of course). TRX squat is the safest variation. Furthermore, core muscles works and stabilize pelvis better (on more natural way) while doing more natural exercises – we know how important they are. It’s that simple. Furthermore, you can reach full hip extension in these exercises (except common split squat) which is very important in sport and everyday activity.
Last but not least, you can prepare ankles/feet much better in alternative exercises just mentioned above – when they need to keep balance for instance. Of course, I am not talking about feet strengthening but about natural upright position. By doing “seated leg press”, feet/ankles stay in almost passive position all the time – which is kinda useless for such an important part of human body.
Thanks for reading and all the best,