Leg Press: Targeting The Front & Middle Thigh (Rectus Femoris & Vastus Intermedius)
By BenYosef | Model: Genvieve Johnson | Main Gym Photography by Ben Yosef for Natural Mag/NMI Photography
The lower half of the body consists of a complex network of muscles, joints, tendons, and additional anatomical detail.
In order to effectively train this region, one must employ various strategic exercises and movements. Factors which warrant consideration include angle, foot positioning, body posturing, sitting, standing, lying, and speed of reps.
The front of the thigh consists of a muscle group that includes four separate and distinct muscles, known as the quadriceps. The four muscle heads are:
- Rectus femoris occupies the middle of the thigh.
- Vastus lateralis is on the lateral side of the femur (i.e. on the outer side of the thigh).
- Vastus medialis is on the medial side of the femur (i.e. on the inner part thigh).
- Vastus intermedius lies between vastus lateralis and vastus medialis and under the rectus femoris. Typically, it cannot be seen without dissection of the rectus femoris.
In this installment we focus on the rectus femoris, and the vastus intermedius. When developed, the rectus femoris aids in creating that coveted streamlined, separated look. When the leg is viewed from the side (think side relaxed pose, side chest, side tri), a thoroughly worked vastus intermedius can cause the front thigh to really pop and create more fullness within the area. Here we examine a leg press style that zeros in on both of these heads.
Choose a standard leg press machine (not the vertical press or horizontal press) and adjust the seat to a comfortable position.
A. Place feet shoulder width apart with only the top half (ball) of foot touching the platform. The lower half should extend beyond the bottom of the platform.
B. Bring the weight down at a slow/ medium pace until legs reach a ninety degree angle (or as deep you comfortably can). For the positive portion of the rep, press the weight back up at the same pace as the negative, until legs are eighty-five to ninety percent extended.
C. Without fully stopping at the top (think “rolling stop” at a stop sign), repeat for twenty reps. Try three or four sets
Speed – Moving at a slow/medium rep pace allows for more focus on the movement. It allows time for the thigh to better absorb the weight.
Knee positioning- Perform reps with knees in a parallel and stabilized position. Do not buckle knees inward towards each other or bow knees outward. Buckling will shift the emphasis to the vastus laterals. Too much buckling can put unnecessary (even dangerous) strain/pressure on the knees. Bowing out will shift the emphasis to the vastus medialis.
*Bounce – Quickly and swiftly propelling weight upright as you reach the bottom of the negative portion of a rep.
*Kick/Snap– Swiftly releasing tension at the top of the positive portion of the movement by “kicking” the weight away.
*Stop – Pausing at the top or bottom of a rep.
*Lock out knees – Allowing knees to hyperextend at the top of a rep.
You may not realize it, but doing any of the above actually makes the exercise easier, thus decreasing its effectiveness.
Ben Yosef | Publisher / Editor-in-Chief / Editorial Director
Ben is the President of MiBoLife, which encompasses MIBOLIFE NUTRITION Supplements and MiBoLife Digital Publishing (Natural Magazine International, Natural Gainz Magazine, and Natural Bikini Magazine). He is also a Lifetime-Natural Bodybuilder, and the creator of the MD-7 Training System. Drop Ben a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to order this issue (July 2013) or a monthly subscription.