Two of the most common gym exercises for muscle gain are the deadlift and the leg press.
While both have their benefits, people often wonder which exercise is most effective for muscle build.
There is no ‘craved in the stone’ rule about which exercise is the best.
It depends on your fitness goals and which muscles you want to train for.
What’s important is to know how to do them correctly to prevent injury.
You should also know when and how often to do these exercises so that you get maximum benefit.
Leg Press: An overview
The leg press is an important exercise designed to build muscle in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus.
It involves lifting weight with your legs using a leg press machine.
Most gyms have a reclining leg press machine, although some may have a more vertical one.
The leg press machine is something that you will find in most gyms, mainly because of the importance of the leg press.
It is often viewed as the most critical leg exercise after squats.
The leg press can help you develop power in your legs and strengthen the ligaments as well.
If you are training for specific sports, you can use it to build power in the leg muscles.
It is also suitable for developing the muscle tone of the legs.
The variation at which you do the leg press will affect the type of muscle that you build.
This is why it is essential to set your goals first and then master the exercise later.
Maintaining proper form
When doing a leg press, maintaining proper form is essential.
The wrong form can cause injury to your leg muscles which often take time to heal.
Always have someone more experienced show you how to do it the first time.
Once you have mastered the correct technique, then you can do it by yourself.
When placing your feet on the footplate, make sure that they are hip-width apart.
Also, make sure that your legs are bent at a 90% angle from the knees to prevent injury.
It is also wise to start with lesser weights and work your way up as you get more experienced.
Common mistakes to avoid with the leg press
One of the most common mistakes beginners make with the leg press is that they start with too much weight.
While it is understandable that you want to see results, slow and steady wins the race.
Always start with weights that you are comfortable with and try and increase your reps.
Once you are on the desired number of reps, then you can start adding weights gradually.
Adding weight gradually to your leg press routine will minimize the risk of injury and help you build power over time.
Another major mistake that many people make with the leg press is not following through with the movement.
Always follow through with the movement, as this will help you prevent cramps and other injuries.
If you find it difficult to follow through with the movement, try and remove some weight or lower your reps.
Lastly, improper form is one of the main reasons why most people get the leg press wrong.
Always ensure that your buttocks are flat on the surface and your feet are in a flat position.
Keep your head down and avoid raising your neck every time you complete a lift.
Also, try and breathe smoothly while exerting pressure as it helps you stay relaxed.
Leg Press Pros
- It helps develop various leg muscles
- Can improve leg strength
- It is a relatively straightforward exercise to master
- Leg press machines are widely available
Leg Press Cons
- It’s not a complete leg workout
- Fails to train the smaller supporting muscles
- Can lead to muscular imbalances
The deadlift: An overview
Another important weightlifting exercise is the deadlift.
The deadlift is a simple lift of weight up to waist height and putting it down again.
It is quite effective in strengthening many bones in the body and muscles that are often overlooked.
These include the back muscles, hand muscles, and hamstrings.
The deadlift is also used as a strength test, which involves heavier weights than other exercises.
The deadlift is also great for stabilizing the core and burning fat.
If performed correctly, it can help you strengthen multiple muscle groups.
Just as with other exercises, performing the deadlift with proper form is also essential.
Studies have shown that many gym injuries occur each year because of not doing the deadlift properly.
Proper deadlift form
Start by standing shoulder-width apart and grip the bar with your feet just inside your hand position.
When lifting the bar, make sure that your back is flat and bend your waist to get leverage.
The power often comes from the core and the lower back and is transferred to the arms.
Once your arms are straight again, then slowly lower the weight.
While it is OK to drop the weight in some cases, it often means that you are lifting too much.
Just as with other exercises, lifting too much weight will increase the risk of injury.
It will also result in bad form as your body adjusts to try and support the extra weight.
Another tip is to breathe correctly and relax while lifting, as this gives you more control.
Also, make sure that you engage the core, as most of the power comes from.
Common mistakes people make with the deadlift
One of the most common mistakes that people make when doing deadlifts is not warming up.
Doing the deadlift can be pretty strenuous on the body, and not warming up will only lead to injury.
Do a few stretches and work with lighter weights before you start with the deadlift.
You can also start with lesser weights and slowly add on more weight as you get warmed up.
Another common mistake is bending your back.
When doing a deadlift, it is crucial to keep your back straight to prevent injuries.
Bend your waist and engage your core to get maximum power.
Also, avoid bending your kneed either to maintain proper form.
Lastly, a common fault amongst beginners is that they contract their shoulders before the lift.
Always keep your shoulders straight as they are crucial for supporting the weight.
Contracting your shoulders can result in a torn ligament or other shoulder injuries.
- It helps strengthen crucial back muscles
- It helps strengthen the core
- Helps with fat burning
- Can help with developing a better posture
- It can be done with little equipment
- Difficult to measure how much to lift
- High risk of injury to the lower back or shoulders
- Difficult to control the weight
- Requires a level of prior strength
Whether you are just getting started or looking to take your workout to the next level, incorporating these exercises into your routine is crucial.
Not only will they help you develop the right muscles, but you will also improve your strength along the way.
However, always make sure that you follow the correct form to maximize the benefits and prevent injuries.