Vertical Leg Press Alternative: How to Do Smith Machine Leg Presses

Vertical Leg Press Alternative: How to Do Smith Machine Leg Presses

Smith Machine Leg Press Benefits

The leg press machine known as the Smith machine is a way to do vertical leg presses rather than sitting in a chair and pushing on the weights with your legs.

Most people are familiar with horizontal leg presses, but with a smith machine, you lie on your back and push the weights up vertically.

The smith machine targets all of the muscles in your legs, with special emphasis on the quadriceps. In addition, it indirectly targets the hamstrings, glutes, and calves, making for a very effective way to get the leg muscles you’ve always wanted.

Some of the many benefits of performing the vertical leg press on a smith machine include the fact that you can change your stance to target specific muscle groups. For instance, a wider stance targets the inner thigh muscles, while a narrower stance targets the quads. If you have back problems, the smith leg press machine is better than horizontal leg presses because you are lying on your back and, therefore, you feel no pressure there.

Finally, another benefit is the ability to perform leg lifts without having a spotter, which means you can do these lifts at any time without someone being there.

Normally, not having a spotter is potentially dangerous, but this is not the case when you’re doing vertical leg lifts on a Smith machine. With the Smith machine, you can go solo anytime you like without worrying about any type of injury occurring.

There are other benefits as well, and these include feeling more in control of the exercise since the bar moves on a track and is easier to control, and the fact that you can get great results even when you’re using light to medium weights, especially if you’re choosing high numbers of repetitions each time you work out.

For these reasons and more, a lot of people are switching from traditional horizontal leg lifts to vertical leg lifts like the ones you do on the Smith machine.

What Muscles Does the Smith Machine Benefit?

The Smith leg press machine does a great job of working on and building up the following muscles:

  • Quadriceps. This is the main muscle group targeted by any type of vertical leg press machine. The quads are located in the top part of the legs in front of your thigh. They are really four different muscles that do things such as help you walk, run, and move around with ease, as well as protect your kneecap. When you watch bodybuilding competitions, you’ll notice the participants’ quads are always very well-defined.
  • Calves. The calves are located on the lower part of the leg in the back of your leg. If you want to have toned muscles in the lower part of your leg, concentrating on your calves is a smart thing to do. In fact, having strong calf muscles can also help prevent shin splints, which occur in the front part of the leg.
  • Glutes. The glutes are actually three different muscle groups: the gluteus maximus (butt), gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. Essentially, we’re talking about the hip and butt area, and vertical leg presses are a great way to build up and improve this area of the body. If you want to look great in a swimsuit each summer, this area of the body must be toned and trim.
  • Hamstrings. The hamstring muscles are actually four different muscle groups, and they are found along the back of your thigh from the hip to just below the knee. Before you work out this set of muscles, you should first do some stretching because hamstring muscles are some of the easiest muscles to strain or tear.

While the quads are the main muscles targeted by the Smith leg press machine, other parts of the leg are targeted indirectly, which means you’ll have great-looking legs if you stick with this exercise long enough.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Just like any other piece of workout equipment, doing a Smith machine leg press exercise has to be done correctly for it to be effective. Warming up before lifting any type of weights is crucial, and once you’re ready to do these leg lifts, here is how you should proceed:

  • First, get into a supine position, which means you’re facing up and lying on your back.
  • Set the bar so that it’s three feet off the ground.
  • Make sure your feet are hip-width apart once you put them in the air.
  • The balls of your feet should be on the underside of the lowered bar.
  • Concentrate on driving the weight upward while using your quads and glutes.
  • Lower the weight back down slowly to the safety brackets. Once you do this, you’ve completed one rep.

You might even want to practice lifting the bar without any weights on it in the beginning. Doing vertical leg lifts is not like doing horizontal leg lifts, so you’ll need to get a feel for the exercise before you start working out for real.

Safety and Precautions

Lifting any type of weights can be dangerous if the exercise isn’t done correctly. Just because you don’t need a spotter with the Smith machine doesn’t mean it isn’t a potentially dangerous machine to use.

That being said, paying attention to a few simple tips makes using this machine a whole lot safer, which means you’re much less likely to injure yourself. Below are a few safety tips that are important to remember when you want to do vertical leg lifts on a Smith machine:

  • Always, always do a full-body warm-up before you get started.
  • If it’s your first time doing these types of leg lifts, make sure you get a trainer to show you exactly how to do the exercise.
  • Always keep your buttocks flat on the floor, and use a mat if you have one.
  • Wear the right exercise clothes, which means something loose-fitting.
  • Hold the safety bars throughout the workout; if you feel any pain or you feel the weight is too much for you, lock them in.
  • Use slow, gradual movements, not anything too fast or dynamic.
  • Keep your hands on the floor as you’re performing the lifts; never keep your hands on your knees.
  • Keep your head still while you’re lying down; do not allow it to move around as you exercise.
  • Always breathe correctly so that the effects of the exercise are multiplied. This means exhaling when pushing forward and inhaling when the bar is coming back down.
  • Make sure you do some cool-down exercises after the workout is complete so that your muscles aren’t as sore later on.

Paying attention to what you’re doing when performing leg lifts on the Smith machine is of utmost importance, but soon you’ll be doing these exercises like a true pro.

Vertical Leg Press Attachments

Like a lot of other workout machines, the vertical leg press machines, including the Smith machines, are made to add certain accessories to them if that’s what you wish to do. Here are some of the attachments you may want to consider at some point:

Marcy leg press attachment

The Inspire leg press attachment made by Marcy is an iso-lateral leg press machine that allows for perfect leg presses every time. The machine is a complement to the Smith machine and is made to be used with the Marcy M2, M3, and M4 multi-gym sets.

It looks very similar to a recumbent stationary bicycle, but of course, it’s actually a sturdy piece of exercise equipment that, like the Smith machine, is designed to give you toned and strong legs.

Force USA G3 leg press attachment

With this attachment, you can easily transform your Smith machine into the perfect vertical leg press machine. It is recommended that you purchase this attachment at the same time that you purchase your Smith machine so that it can be installed properly during the assembly process.

This is a vertical leg press plate that helps to support your back as you exercise so that you can relax every time you’re in the horizontal position. It is an extra-wide plate that helps you target the glutes, quads, or inner thigh muscles, depending on the position of your feet. If you want an even better workout, you can purchase optional bands that make the exercises a little more challenging.

Sam’s Fitness Ironmaster leg press plate for the IM2000

If you’re using the IM2000 workout machine and would like to do leg presses vertically, this plate is what you need. It helps isolate the legs and also works great for calf extensions. It is super easy and fast to install, and it’s reasonably priced as well.

Made out of heavy-duty steel, the plate even has a textured finish so that your feet never slip while you’re performing your leg presses.

It is also a full 5.25 inches in width, which means your feet always get the space they need to do every leg press correctly so you get even better results. This is simply a great addition to your workout machine thanks to how easy it is to use and how inexpensive it is.

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