Vivian Grisogono


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Main muscles worked: the front-thigh muscles, in coordination with the hip extensors and ankle plantarflexors.
These are the quadriceps group, the glutei and hamstrings, with the gastrocnemius, soleus and long toe flexors. They work concentrically as you straighten your knees and push your feet downwards away from your body, and then eccentrically, paying out, when the reverse movement is done with control. When the knee is locked straight, the all-important vastus medialis obliquus is fully activated.

Benefits: the leg press provides strengthening exercise for the main muscle groups of the leg. It’s good for fitness work and for rehabilitation after leg problems, especially knee injuries.
Set the machine: If it is adjustable, set the backrest so that you sit comfortably with your knees just over the edge of the seat. If the leg part adjusts, set it so that you can bend and straighten your knees fully.

Set the weight

Starting position: Sit with your back straight, head straight and supported on the backrest, and place the balls of your feet on the footplates. Put your hands on the handles, if provided. If there are no handles, keep your arms alongside you or put your hands on your thighs, to keep your hands well away from the moving weights.

: Press on the footplates with your feet and straighten your legs until you lock your knees fully. To emphasize the calf muscles, press your toes downwards as far as you can when your legs are straight. Hold the position for a count of 2, then reverse the movement, controlling the weight, until you reach the starting position.

: Breathe normally, or take a breath in before you press, and breathe out as you straighten your legs.

Caution: Don’t do this exercise if it causes pain, especially in your back or knees. If you experience pain in your back, try sitting up straighter and reducing the weight. Don’t drop your head and look down: keep your head up and look forward throughout the exercise.
Always make sure both your knees lock straight every time t the end of the forward movement.
Don’t let your legs turn in towards each other, or your knees come together: these are signs that you are recruiting the inner thigh muscles, as the weight is too heavy for your front-thigh muscles. The result will be adverse pressure on your hips.

: The leg press machine pictured is part of the original Norsk (previously called Masolet) Sequence Training System. This leg press was designed to provide full range work, especially for the front-thigh muscles, using the nearer footplates, and inner range work focussing on the vastus medialis obliquus, using the further footplates, which also allow extra tall people to use the machine comfortably without having to adjust it.

The metal bar in front of the seat separates the knees, so it prevents the legs from coming in together as the legs are straightened. The movement is angled downwards, maximizing the work for the hip extensors. Another benefit of the bar is to act as a shield, in the rare case that the chain breaks. On other systems I have known this to happen and cause injury as the broken end of the chain snapped backwards and hit the person exercising.
The chain which transmits the weight load has a raised curved part which provides extra resistance at the end of the movement. This prevents the loss of resistance that happens in normal pulley systems once the resistance is no longer being moved at a right angle, and it provides a drag effect which gives the vastus medialis obliquus muscle beneficial load.


The roller design for the footplates allows special emphasis on the foot and ankle components of the movement pattern. The seat is designed to suit all sizes, keeping one’s trunk fully supported in the right alignment, without special adjustment, and it has handles to keep one’s hands safely out of the way.
Although the weights were safely sited out of reach of the person exercising, later versions of the Norsk exercise system were designed with the weights enclosed, in accordance with modern safety standards.
To my mind this design for a leg press has never been bettered for effectiveness, safety and ease of use.