Although I am frequently dismayed by people’s laziness and all around carelessness in the gym (obviously: I’ve started a blog about it), I am equally impressed by how creatively they accomplish nothing.
When it comes to training legs, people generally steer clear altogether. Squat racks, leg press machines and Smith machines collect the most dust in the gym, while people congregate around equipment that works the smaller muscle groups. And why not: training legs hurts like crap! Properly training the body’s largest and strongest muscle group requires a serious commitment to intensity and concentration.
So let’s talk about a way people train legs unseriously. I’ve noticed two distinct methods people use to cheat on the leg press. The first is when the guy does his set with his arms crossed over his chest, so that he severely limits the lift’s range of motion. The second, and my favorite, is when the guy presses his hands to his knees throughout the lift. He cheats himself twice: On the eccentric (down) portion of the lift, he uses his upper body to help resist the weight of the carriage; during the concentric (up) part of the lift, he pushes like hell with his upper body to return the carriage back to its starting point.
In the extreme, this four-legged leg press becomes a veritable bench press, recruiting heavy involvement from the chest, shoulders and triceps. You might even be able to build some upper body strength this way. (I can hear my father’s snark now: “Wouldn’t this actually be a more efficient way to lift – to work all these body parts at once?!?”) Well, it may in fact be more efficient, but it certainly isn’t more effective.