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Make sure your back and core are engaged throughout the movement.
The leg press machine is very useful for building lean, strong legs and buttocks. The weight you use will depend on your current strength and level of experience with the movement. Remember to always warm up before any exercise -- in this case, either do some bodyweight squats or use a weight that is around half of what you plan to use for your actual workout.
Get Those Beginner Gains
To begin with, a little trial and error will be necessary. Pick a light weight setting on the seated leg press and test it -- if you can do 12 repetitions with the weight, move down to the next, and repeat until you find a weight that allows you to do at least eight repetitions, but not more than 12. Use that for your workouts at this stage. When you find your current weight setting becoming too easy, be sure to increase it to the next level to keep challenging yourself.
Once you've been training for four to six months, you will have increased your strength capacity significantly. At this stage, you can increase the weight you use on the seated leg press to an amount that allows you to do at least six repetitions but not more than eight. Again, as your strength increases, move on to a heavier setting when you are ready. Always make sure that every repetition is done with correct form -- moving on to a heavier weight because your ego is driving you is a sure-fire way to get injured. Form first, always.
You've been training for over a year and are confident in your strength. The seated leg press might not be presenting so much of a challenge any more, so it's time to progress onto the plate-loaded leg press. Also known as the diagonal or lever leg press, it's wise to repeat the process of testing the weights you use on this new angle. To begin with, choose weights that are about two-thirds of what you were using on the seated leg press. Test a set of eight to 12 repetitions -- if you can complete the set easily, add more; if you struggle, take some off. Choose a plate selection that allows you to complete at least eight reps, no more than 12.
Keeping It Elite
You've been training for years, and you're confident around the gym and are probably using the leg press as a supplement to other training, or as a replacement for squats. Using the plate-loaded leg press, choose weights that challenge you. Most of the time, choose a plate stack that will allow you to perform six to eight repetitions. Every couple of weeks, test out a heavier weight for three to five reps in order to keep challenging your body and progressing.