Leg Press

Image of how to do the leg press


Type: Strength

Main Muscle Worked: Quadriceps

Equipment: Machine

Level: Beginner

What is the Leg Press?

Although they aren’t comprised of “show muscles” such as your biceps and chest, working your legs is important if you play sports or simply want a balanced overall physique. A widely available piece of exercise equipment for leg training at most gyms is the leg press. The seated leg press is a popular piece of gym equipment Because it helps strengthen and build a number of key muscles in your legs, it offers many benefits, no matter your exercise goals.

There are two types of leg press machine found in gyms: the standard horizontal leg press and the 45-degree leg press that has a seat that reclines at an angle while your legs press upward in a diagonal direction. Both machines are used to develop the quadriceps and hamstrings.

While it seems like a simple exercise, it’s important to learn how to use it properly. By paying attention to your form, you can maximize the strength-building benefits and prevent injury.

Muscles Worked in Leg Press

Leg Muscles Worked

primary: Quadriceps
secondary: Soleus and Gastrocnemius (calves), Hamstrings, Hip Adductors, Gluteus Maximus

Benefits of the Leg Press

Efficient Training Progress

The seated leg press is extremely beneficial because it can be an efficient way to encourage and speed up progress. The leg press targets a number of different muscles: your quadriceps, gluteus maximus, soleus, gastrocnemius, hamstrings and adductor magnus. The ability to stimulate multiple muscle groups at once makes the leg press a more efficient choice than other leg exercises that target just one muscle.


The seated leg press is frequently compared to the barbell squat, as both are compound lower body exercises that targets the quadriceps and glutes. However there is an important difference between the two exercises — the squat involves supporting a loaded barbell on your back, meanwhile the leg press does not put your body directly under the resistance. So, there is no risk of the weight falling on you, like there is with the squat. This makes the leg press a safer choice that does not require a spotter.

To further reduce injury risk, lift heavier weights and support your knees while performing the leg press I recommend buying a knee sleeve support band from here: Knee sleeve

Increased Speed

Performing the seated leg press may also help improve your speed. Moving quickly requires your legs to create enough force to move your body forward. The more force you can create, the further you’ll move with each step and the faster you’ll travel. Training your body to create a significant amount of force by performing heavy leg presses can help enhance the speed at which you run.

How to do the Leg press

Leg Press

  1. 1. Brace your abdominal muscles and push the platform away with your heels and forefoot. Your heels should remain flat on the footplate of the leg press machine. The front of your foot or toes should never be used to move the pad forward.
  2. 2. While exhaling, extend your legs and keep your head and back flat against the seat pad. Extend with slow control rather than with an explosive movement.
  3. 3. Pause at the top of the movement. Do not lock out your knees and ensure that they are not bowing out or in.
  4. 4. While inhaling, return the footplate to the starting position by gradually bending the knees. Keep the feet and back flat throughout.

Repeat for desired amount of reps

Mistakes commonly made in the leg press

Not Performing Full Range of Motion

You should always follow through the entire range of motion without lifting your hips. If you find difficultly with this then you need to adjust the seat and/or lower your weights.

Placing Hands on Knees

Placing hands on the knees is a very common mistake in the leg press that will break your form, instead you should grab the assist handles.

Too Heavy Weights

When performing the leg press one of the biggest factors that people get wrong is that they try to lift more weight than they should be lifting as it often comes at the expense of their form.

If you can’t control the movements, you will need to reduce the weights as proper form is much more important than the amount of weight you’re lifting as the leg press needs to be done with complete control.

Safety when performing the leg press

You should avoid the leg press if you have weak pelvic floor muscles as it places a lot of stress on the pelvic floor. Instead, do safer leg strengthening exercises which are recommended by your doctor or physical therapist. You should also not use this machine if you have a knee injury. If one or both of your knees hurt, do not push through the pain. Pushing through will only cause more injury.

If you do feel any pain during the exercise, slowly lower the weights and end the exercise. Only use a weight you can press with good form for 10 reps. This exercise can also place stress on your back, so it should be avoided if you have a back injury or back pain.

Variations of the Leg Press

Foot positioning can be used to work the muscles in different ways on the leg press machine.

  • • Using a wider foot placement will work the inner thigh muscles.
  • • Using a narrower foot placement will work the outer thigh muscles.
  • • Placing your feet higher on the foot plate will work your gluteus maximus and hamstrings to a greater degree.
  • • Placing your feet lower on the foot plate will emphasize the quads more, but this also places more stress on the knees and should be done with caution.
  • • You can also use the leg press one leg at a time if you are looking to overcome imblances.

Write below in the comments your opinion on the leg press, if it works for you and any questions you might have.

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