Madeleine Albright’s Heavy Leg Press Deconstructed

Boy, did I feel silly the other day typing “madeleine albright leg press” into Google. But since then, one of my fitness-maniac friends and I have wondered what is really involved in leg-pressing 400 pounds? When we find place with one of those machines–a place that will let us in, that is–will we too be able to press 400? We don’t want to be crushed by an older lady.
No doubt Madeleine is strong. But our gym coach, who actually earns his living as an engineer, explained the heavy leg press in about five seconds with a drawing like this–this is my version from memory, with added cartoon details:

The weight is 400 pounds because of the force of gravity, which pulls it straight down. Lifting it across 45 degrees, while it’s prevented by the machine from falling straight down, halves the weight.