“I am not a huge fan of squats but leg presses are so easy that I cannot go wrong in them”
Do you feel the same way? If so you might be a real professional or you do not realize that you can mess up leg presses too. Unlike while doing squats you do not have to balance the weights; all you need to do are push the weight up; however heavy weights and a bad form are ideal ingredients for injury in a gym.
So what are the possible mistakes you might be making in a leg press?
Bringing back the weights too far down
One of the advantages of a leg press is that your entire back gets a stable support. However many people have a habit of bringing back the weight sled far too down. If the sled reaches a position where you lift your buttocks and if you are not is control of the speed then you are putting your lumbar disks at risk. It is always important to control the tempo of the negative. Remember to stop before your glutes lift above the seat.
Not going down enough
Following from the previous point, there are also those who load the machine with heavy weights but do not complete the range of movement. If the legs do not do down enough there is no use of this exercise. Doing half-reps for leg presses have no benefit for the leg muscles. The ideal way to do leg presses is to take the sled low enough so that the thighs are parallel to the support bench.
Proper heel support
This one may actually not be your fault. Certain equipment does not have a wide foot rest and people have to place their heels outside the board. This puts uneven pressure on the muscles and can lead to injury. One way to work out with a small machine is to place light weights on the machine or avoid the exercise completely.
Bending the feet outward or inward
If you are performing a leg extension or a curl you can turn your feet outward or inward to target the hamstrings or quads. But leg presses are done on a rigid surface and turning the feet puts more pressure on the knees. The ideal position is to keep the feet shoulder width apart.
Locking the knees
If you extend the legs completely at the top of the leg press you lock your legs, which may cause harm to the knee. Do not fully extend the leg; stop a few inches before it.