Before going deeper into why leg workout is a crucial thing in powerlifting, let me just honor the name of this web site by stating that there would be no good powerlifting workout if there wasn’t a squat rack or a power rack. You perform squat and all its variations on the rack, partial deadlifts and rack pull (lockouts). Even the floor bench press benefits from it. I guess that talk about the importance of leg workout in powerlifting fits really well here.
Importance of Leg Power
In order to squat heavy you need to have the leg power! Besides hips legs are the most crucial component of a big squat. But besides quadriceps (thighs), biceps femoris (hamstrings) and soleus (calves) there are other legs muscles that not only work to support these main strength producers but also to develop stability of your posture during the exercise. You have probably seen some big guys putting the weight on their back that they can’t handle just to exercise those deep hidden stabilizer muscles.
Depending on which technique you use for performing the deadlift (conventional or sumo), will define the level of recruitment of the leg muscles. Hamstrings are heavily used during a conventional deadlift, so having a strong posterior leg base is really important. In case your lower back is not one of your strong parts and you engage sumo deadlifting technique, your legs will be recruited much like during the squat.
Although legs don’t help you directly in the bench press, developing lower body strength will ultimately help you achieve more stable posture during any exercise and sport, including bench press.
There are many approaches to powerlifting training and you don’t have to know them all and right away, but you also don’t want to get into powerlifting without the basic knowledge of exercise techniques either. First learn the proper technique, at least for three basic powerlifting exercises and then try out the heavy weights.
I will not explain in detail how should a certain training plan look like, at last not for now, but what I will do is pinpoint some important rules.
- Train Heavy! There is no reason why you shouldn’t go heavy. This is what breaks plateau, push the limits and set PRs. Training strong includes 1-5 repetitions per set. Number of sets should float anywhere between 5 and 10. Start with 5 reps per set and work your way down to a 1 rep sets. Note: Don’t max on every workout. Third or fourth training should be done using 85%-90% of your maximum single lifts.
- Rest Long! After squat, bench press and deadlift workouts schedule a day of rest. If you don’t do it, you’re not doing it right. Strength is a cumulative category and it requires time to be built, so learn how to be patient!
- Eat Plenty but Clean! There are two kinds of powerlifters: big heavy absolute category guys and all others. Both categories must be aware of what they eat. This includes a lot of protein for the muscles and carbohydrates to fuel the training. Although guys from absolute categories must obey this rule in difference to all other lifters they don’t have to watch out how much they eat. Absolute category is anywhere above 125kg, which means that they can balloon over 500 pounds and nobody would care because it’s legal on the competition.
If you are considering getting some workout equipment for powerlifting at home be sure to read some tips on buying a power rack and related leg workout equipment.
Leg Press Machine and Workout
Leg press machine is an important apparatus for developing muscles and strength of the lower body. It is also important to understand that this is just one of the supplemental exercises when it comes to packing meat on your thighs. But, quite a supplemental exercise it is! It develops power more than any other leg movement, except for squat, of course. Therefore, it should be used often in your routine, if not always.
I want to clear one thing from the start. From my experience, leg presses compared to squats don’t stand a chance when it comes to building the ultimate leg power. Therefore, if you plan on buying some leg equipment, squat rack should be the first of your choices, it should even have priority over leg press machine. Depending on your budget, there are some good ones that you can consider buying.
There are two main types of leg press machines:
- 45 degree leg press where the weight is pushed diagonally upward with sled type movement.
- 90 degree or vertical leg press machine where the weight is pushed vertically upward with sled type movement.
Call me crazy but vertical version has one interesting advantage. When the weight pins you down to the floor you are unable to squiggle under the construction, which can often occur on 45 angled ones when the weight is too big and you are trying to struggle with it and thus cheat by raising yourself up the seat. But, 45 version inflicts less pressure on ankles and knees, and feels more natural to perform. That is why I prefer using it.
These machines are reliable and have high safety factor because of the included adjustable side brackets that will prevent the user from being trapped under the weight.
Actually, there is not a big variety of exercises that you can do on a leg press machine because of its predetermined weight path, but the ones that you can are important part of your leg workout and should not be neglected. Beside the intended leg exercise you can also perform calf presses, which can be a great addition to your main calf builders – standing calf raises. These can be done either with one leg or with both at the same time.
I always try to share advices on home gym with leg press type of equipment because I know there are a lot of people that prefer exercising at home. I myself am a gym rat; hence I usually dabble on some gym leg press.
Although I am a bigger fan of diagonal machines there is an excellent cheap Powerline vertical version from Body Solid. You can find it anywhere from $200 up to $250 which is suitable for many wallets. Although affordable, this can be too much for low budgets. In that case you can opt for used leg press machine. These can cost less than $100, depending on how much weight is included in the price.
If you have any other question or you want me to review a certain leg press machine that you want to buy, bump a comment and I’ll be happy to accommodate.