EFFECTIVE EXERCISES FOR LEGS
THE MOST EFFECTIVE EXERCISES FOR LEGS
I will not count all the possible exercises boosting my ego (as if asking do you see how much I know). I will better list you THE BEST.
The first exercise for legs and the most important for the entire body because it involves the maximum number of the largest muscles of our body. Besides this, squats are technically one of the most natural exercises for the human body. Even now, if you are sitting on a chair, you had to squat and after you read this piece and went to the fridge to take a sandwich, you will have to use the same muscular groups like for classical squats.
If you have the possibility to perform only one exercise during this week, then you should choose squats because nothing can be compared with them in terms of strength and mass gain.
Before I tell about the particular features how to perform this exercise, I would like to notice an important fact one more time: SQUATS IS NOT THE MOST USEFUL EXERCISE FOR YOUR JOINTS. Large weights used during much work may “wash out” the cartilage surfaces of the joints and lead to pains and inflammations. Alexey Shabunya was thrown away for some precious years from the professional sports because of this reason.
CONCLUSION: you should WARM UP VERY WELL! 2 warm-up sets with small weight and big amount of reps is the minimum. Usually it makes sense to squat 20-30 times with empty bar and then to put 50 kg and perform one more warm-up set of 20 reps, after that to add some more weight and execute 12-15 reps. ONLY then can you pass to hard work. It is possible to perform more warm-up sets in order to let the blood enter the legs and warm-up the joints.
OK. How to squat? Very many kinds of squats exist, I will tell about two basic: bodybuilder type and powerlifting (strength) type. The main difference is in the position of the rod at the shoulders, legs position and squat depth. Bodybuilding squats are more “isolated” because they involve quadriceps. Powerlifting (strength) squats actively involve more muscles then bodybuilding squats in order to be able to squat with bigger weight (the more muscles are involved into the work, the more weight will you lift).
In order to lift more weight, the strongman is forced to lower the barbell lower (to scapulas) in order to lower the center of gravity, lean forward to connect the legs, put the legs wider in order to include the buttocks. All these result in bigger weight on the barbell. This is an advantage. And big buttock muscles. This is a disadvantage.
Basic exercise number two for legs. Strictly speaking, basic exercises for quadriceps end with it. I will not describe hack squats, squats with barbell on the chest because they are significantly less effective then classic squats and leg press.
So, leg press, to be honest is WORSE than squats because hip joint is fixed during this exercise which is not natural as you understand. We use usual squats continuously. And where did you see leg press in laying position? Here is it. Leg press is more unnatural exercise.
In general leg press is less basic exercise than squats because only one joint (knee) works the most actively during it and the hip joint works quite passively due to fixation of the body in laying position. BUT! This fixation gives us best isolation of the quadriceps apart. And this should be used in case you spoiled the squat technique and feel only your growing buttocks. In this case the preliminary fatigue by unbending + leg press = exactly what you need for accentuated situation correction.
Many people love leg press because bigger weight may be applied during this exercise than during squats. This is not amazing – body and hips lay down without straining its stabilizing function and their weight is subtracted from press component. Naturally, bigger weight may be lifted. BUT this is fraught because you wouldn’t overcome similar load during usual squats because it is excessive for your joints.
LEG PRESS technique
Foot position: at shoulder width. The more are they pushed away from each other, the more you can involve buttock muscles. The nearer are the toes, the more works the outer part of quadriceps. The higher are the legs, the more works the quadriceps and less the buttock muscles. The lower are the legs, the more work the buttocks and the “drop” (if the toes are directed outside).
Body position: the body tightly lies at trainer’s back. The buttock muscles don’t detach from the back. The tightness is kept during the entire move. The lower you descend the platform, the more the buttock muscles detach and the more dangerous it is for the joints and the buttock muscles are more actively involved.
Knee folding: kept always. We don’t unfold the legs in the upper point completely because this will steal the load from quadriceps and will move it to the joint. That is, the legs are always in folded position during the entire set.
Heel position: “stuck” to the platform – it is more comfortable for the work. That is, you always push the floor with the heels (this loads the quadriceps). Took the heels off? Loaded the joints and the buttock muscles!
Breath: same way. Exhale at effort.