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The Best Exercise Machine for the Butt, Thighs & Hips

by
author image John Tavolacci
Based in New York, John Tavolacci has been a leading exercise physiologist for over 14 years. His resume includes stints in cardiac rehab, sports conditioning, physical therapy and corporate wellness. He is a certified health/fitness instructor and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Tavolacci also holds a master's degree in exercise physiology from Queens College.
The Best Exercise Machine for the Butt, Thighs & Hips
A man uses the leg press machine at a gym. Photo Credit Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

The leg press is the single best machine to strengthen the butt, thighs and hips. Other resistance machines isolate specific lower body muscles, but the leg press is the one machine that develops whole body strength in all your lower muscles. Muscular efficiency and functional strength are two rare benefits of a leg press.

Joint Action

The two major joint actions of a leg press are knee (lower leg) extension and hip (thigh) extension. The muscle that acts to extend the knee is the quadricep and the quadriceps main function is to control the start and finish of each movement phase. Extension at the hip joint is guided by the gluteus maximus and hamstrings. The glutes regulate the movement change of direction. The gluteal muscles also oversee resistance deceleration within the eccentric phase.

Features

Various models of the leg press are available, but most have similar features. A standard leg press comes with an adjustable seat and back pad combination. This forward and backward maneuverability gives most exercisers the opportunity to use the leg press. The square platform is where the bottom of your feet are set up. Movement orientation is dictated by the square pad, which is in front of you. Each leg press has a pin-loaded resistance weight stack built into the machine. The resistance weight stack ranges from 10 lbs. up to 300 lbs. in some cases. The easily accessible weight stack provides time proficiency and optimal safety. There are also plate-loaded machines which can be loaded with considerable weight. Some machines are referred to as hip sleds. Variations in the angle of decline of the upper body (from parallel to the floor to 45 degrees or so) affect the difficulty of the exercise. A higher positioning of the feet can recruit more of the hamstrings, while a lower positioning can recruit more of the quadriceps. The calves - and inner/outer thighs - can also be isolated to an extent, based on foot positioning and technique.

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Considerations

Certain orthopedic limitations can make the leg press a problem for some people. The leg press could cause discomfort for individuals with knee or hip injuries. On the flip side, the leg press can be therapeutic for people with lower back pain or lower leg issues. The leg press should just be a singular (but overall) component of a full lower-body exercise program. Other leg exercises should also be performed.

Benefits

The leg press has the ability to engage nearly all the large muscles in the legs. Not many resistance machines can strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals and hip flexors at the same time. Multiple muscle recruitment boosts caloric expenditure and heart rate response. The leg press produces functional strength and awareness. The strength gained by the leg press translates well to everyday life.

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References

  • "Building Strength and Stamina"; Wayne Westcott; 2003
  • "Resistance Training Instruction" 2nd Edition; Everett Aaberg; 2006
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