To begin this exercise, start in a seated position with your hips and knees flexed. Extend at the knees and hips slowly until your leg is straight. Pause at top with a “soft lock,” which means your knees appear to be straight, but they aren’t completely straight or “locked out.”
Next, slowly lower the weight back to where you were in the starting position, which should be about 90 degrees at the knee joint. You should take care to make sure your knees don’t extend beyond the plane of the feet, which increases the chance of injury because of excessive stress to the patellar tendon.
Muscles targeted: Hip extensors (gluteus maximus, semimembranosus, semitendinosus, biceps femoris), knee extensors (rectus femoris, vastus medialis/intermedius/lateralis)
Note: Your knees should stay in same plane of the feet, and they shouldn’t extend in front or outside the vertical plane of the feet. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart. Full range of motion is flexing the knees to about 90 degrees, but flexing beyond 90 degrees may increase the likelihood of injury. Your back and spine should be kept in a straight alignment. The leg press can be modified. The exercise can be performed from a standard seated position to an inverted position. The same guidelines will apply to each modification.
Poor posture is a common mistake for people when they attempt this exercise. Moving the knee beyond 90 degrees flexion is one of the more common mistakes, which also increases risk of injury. This exercise should be performed slow enough to eliminate momentum, which will safely stress the muscles. When momentum/fast speeds are used, more stress is applied to the connective tissue, such as ligaments, tendons and capsules and can lead to injuries.
Balanced strength, including upper leg strength, is very important to the EMS professional. At times, in order to provide appropriate treatment, patients may have to be carried away from a hazardous situation. Additionally, often we have to carry equipment and/or patients up and down stairs to provide care. Additionally, a balance of muscular endurance and strength may be required, and the workouts described in previous articles can effectively improve both.