As a personal trainer, training my legs is one of my favorite things to do at the gym. So naturally, when I was asked to try 50 leg presses a day for two weeks, I jumped at the chance to find out more. I already include the leg press in my lower body workouts, however, I don’t tend to use it every day. Instead, like any good trainer would advise, I give my legs a break between workouts so that muscles can recover (and grow), ready for my next leg day. But what would happen if I did? Read on to find out more.
Let’s start by taking a look at how to do a leg press. The leg press is a machine in which the user has a stationary padded seat in front of a moveable platform. This platform is pressed outwards by the legs and the weight of this platform can be changed by adding less or more weight. The machine pretty much mimics a barbell squat, except you’re seated.
There are different types of leg presses, however, the linear leg press is my preferred choice. The linear leg press, also known as an angled leg press, sits you at a 45-degree angle. There’s also the horizontal leg press, which as its name suggests, isn’t angled and is instead, horizontal.
The beauty of a leg press machine is that different leg muscles can be targeted simply by changing your foot placement. It’s a great machine to build strength in the legs, and you can press with both legs or single legs. but more on that later. Plus, because you’re seated, pressure is taken off the core and lower back, unlike when doing a barbell squat.
For this challenge, I typically opted for five sets of 10 reps, ensuring that the last rep or two of each set was a struggle. For this to happen, I had to use a weight that challenged me, without being totally impossible. Here’s what happened when I did 50 leg presses a day for two weeks. Oh, and if you’re planning to do this yourself, get your foam roller ready, pronto.
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I did 50 leg presses a day for two weeks — here's what happened
My glutes felt peachy
Yes, the leg press does work all of the muscles in your legs, but a slight adjustment in your foot placement can make it a fantastic machine to really activate and work the glutes. If you’re on the linear leg press, place your feet wider and higher, and be sure to push through your heels and feel those glutes firing up.
I added some glute-focused leg press reps to every session. I also added some small pulses at the end of every rep, as this keeps the glutes under tension a little longer, working them harder and helping them to grow and get stronger. Believe me, the leg press is a brilliant addition to a glute workout.
My calves toned up
Again, the muscles in the lower leg might not be the main muscles working during a traditional leg press, but you can position your feet differently to target the calf muscles. I did this during a few of my leg press sessions, and boy did it burn. Personally, I find that I don’t really place much emphasis on training my calf muscles, so I slid my feet down to the bottom of the leg press platform. Having just my toes on the platform, with my heels hanging off the end, meaning that with every press, my calves were firing up big time.
Adding a pulse is the biggest gamechanger
Want to burn out your legs a little more? Don’t complete a full rep until you’ve added a pulse or two at the end. This helps to keep muscles under tension and is how to really grow your muscles, as they are forced to work harder which helps improve endurance and strength. Pulses are pretty much your best friend when it comes to weightlifting.
I discovered one leg is noticeably stronger than the other
I’m left-handed, so it makes sense that my left side is stronger than my right. When I used the machine unilaterally (one leg at a time), I found that I could push more weight using my left leg.
Now I am armed with this information, I can and most definitely will, be spending some time building up the strength in my right leg. Having an imbalance, whilst normal, can lead to injury, so it’s important to try and keep the body in balance so everything is working together, in unison.
I upped my recovery
If you decide to take on the 50-leg press-a-day challenge, you might find that your legs feel a bit sore. I opted for a weight that was challenging and it left my lower body requiring some extra TLC by the end of week one. So, out came the foam roller and the best massage gun as I attempted to heal the burning pain in my legs.
I did 50 leg presses a day for two weeks — the verdict
Would I recommend doing 50 leg presses a day for two weeks? It’s a big yes from me. I adore the leg press, as it’s great for targeting all the different muscles in the lower body, plus, you can continually work to improve strength as more and more weight can be added over time.
As a personal trainer and avid gym goer, I do advocate giving muscles a break between training sessions, however. So whilst two weeks of 50 leg presses a day is fine as a one-off, generally, I would take a day or two between lower body sessions.
Looking for more workout inspiration? Read what happened when this fitness writer did 50 sumo squats a day for a week, plus check out this 7-minute resistance band workout designed to fire up your glutes.
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Lucy is a freelance health and fitness journalist as well as a pre and post-natal personal trainer. Although a sweaty gym session (skipping rope is a must) is her favorite way to ‘relax’, she’s also a fan of bingeing on The Office, snacking on chocolate-coated raisins, and fizz-filled brunches with friends.