How to Do the Leg Press: Step-By Step Guide

The leg press is likely one of the best lower-body exercises on the market. You’ll use a machine that will help you drive quadriceps hypertrophy and enhance squat energy. Whereas the leg press shouldn’t be a substitution for squatting, it may possibly assist learners set up better leg energy and development.

Whenever you don’t need to add stress to your decrease again however it’s essential give your legs an infinite problem, the leg press is available in clutch. This powerhouse motion proves that the squat rack isn’t the one piece of kit that may give you robust, well-developed legs.

An athete performs a leg press.
Credit score: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock

On this article, we’ll undergo all the things it’s essential know concerning the leg press. Learn on in the event you’re seeking to maximize your leg day.

Desk of Contents

Editor’s Be aware: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, however it shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or food regimen, it’s at all times a good suggestion to seek the advice of a trusted medical skilled. We’re not a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this website should not supposed to be used as prognosis, prevention, and/or therapy of well being issues. They don’t seem to be substitutes for consulting a professional medical skilled.

The way to Do the Leg Press

Beneath is a step-by-step information on the best way to carry out the leg press in a seated sled setup. Be aware: extra recumbent leg press machines have a really related setup.

Step 1 Sit Down and Set Up

An athlete sets up to perform a leg press.
Credit score: Alfa Photostudio / Shutterstock

The seated leg press needs to be set as much as permit the lifter to comfortably sit with out having their decrease again and hips come out of the seat within the backside of the press. To do that, carry out a number of apply repetitions with an empty sled to full depth, specializing in retaining your decrease again and hips down on the seat.

For many lifters, inserting the ft within the squat stance will suffice.

Coach’s Tip: In case you are seeking to maximize quadriceps engagement, set the ft in the direction of the underside of the footplate and take a narrower stance. The slender stance will drive deeper knee flexion angles, rising the loading on the quadriceps.

Step 2 — Decrease the Sled

A shirtless athlete performs a heavy leg press.
Credit score: SOK Studio / Shutterstock

Unrack the burden sled utilizing the handles by the perimeters of your hips. After getting un-racked, bend your knees to permit the sled to be lowered. Carry your legs down into your chest and abdomen in order that your thighs break parallel and are available as near your physique as doable.

Give attention to retaining the decrease again and hips steady throughout this deep leg press. Failure to take action might outcome within the hips curling upwards off the seat, resulting in extra pressure on the decrease again.

Coach’s Tip: Sluggish and managed decreasing of the sled is right, so you should definitely grasp lighter masses for quantity previous to rising general masses. 

Step 3 Press Up and Repeat

An athlete finishes a leg press rep.
Credit score: Gerain0812 / Shutterstock

After getting reached a full depth within the leg press, press your ft by means of the footplate and raise the sled upwards. You’ll want to not lose stress in your hips and core, retaining your hips and decrease again on the seat

Coach’s Tip: Strive to not totally lengthen the knees on the tip of the leg press, however quite maintain them barely bent on the high of the repetition. It will assist improve loading and time below stress on the quadriceps.

Leg Press Variations

The leg press machine isn’t a one-trick pony. You need to use it for numerous forms of leg presses, any of which might present huge value-adds to your program. 

Banded Leg Press

Perhaps you’ve used bands and chains in weight training earlier than. Or perhaps you’ve been intimidated to do that out with a barbell. Whether or not you’re a beginner or a professional, the banded leg press will present accommodating resistance to leg press coaching to reinforce concentric energy and enhance time below stress. You’ll improve the problem with out having to slap on any additional weight plates.

To carry out the banded leg press, merely add a light-weight resistance band to the leg press sled across the weight pegs and the seat body. Carry out your reps as normal.

1 ½ Leg Press

The 1 ½ leg press, like different 1 ½ rep variations, will increase loading and time below stress of the quadriceps, furthering muscle hypertrophy and energy growth at numerous ranges of movement.

To carry out, decrease the sled to the underside place as normal. Press the sled midway again up. Cease on the midway mark, then decrease it again to the underside. Lastly, push the sled again to the beginning place. That’s one rep.

Partial Leg Press

Partial reps may be useful for overloading a muscle, both with extended time below stress or extra quantity. In doing this, you may improve hypertrophy potential and isolate ranges of movement that could be sticking factors within the leg press.

Select your fighter to your partial reps. To do a partial leg press, carry out leg presses as normal, however solely inside a restricted vary of movement. This would possibly imply staying throughout the high half of the rep (treating 90 levels because the “backside” of every rep as an alternative of going all the best way down). Alternatively, keep between the underside of your vary of movement and deal with the 90-degree place because the “high” of every rep as an alternative of going to full extension. Carry out upwards of 15 reps per set to essentially overload your muscle groups right here.

Leg Press Alternate options

Perhaps the leg press machine is being utilized by somebody who appears to be doing as many units as humanly doable. Or perhaps your gymnasium doesn’t have a leg press machine in any respect. Don’t fear. You’ll be able to nonetheless reap related advantages to the leg press and not using a machine. You’ll simply must get just a little inventive.

Slim-Stance Goblet Squats

Slim stance goblet squats are a goblet squat variation that particularly goal the quadriceps. Because of the slender stance, the diploma of knee flexion is far larger, making it extra demanding for the quadricep muscle groups to stabilize and lengthen the knee joint.

To carry out the narrow-stance goblet squat, carry a dumbbell or kettlebell to chest top. Maintain it tucked into your chest and your elbows near your rib cage. Carry your ft to hip-width or nearer. Sink again and down right into a squat, retaining your torso as upright as doable. With every rep, work to extend your vary of movement.

Bulgarian Cut up Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a viable different to the leg press because it isolates the quadriceps and reduces some loading on the backbone. Holding dumbbells at your sides will help additional lower potential pressure in your again. This can be utilized by people who might not have entry to a leg press but want to improve quadriceps hypertrophy.

You are able to do the Bulgarian break up squat both with dumbbells or together with your physique weight solely (it can nonetheless be a lot difficult). Place your again foot laces down behind you on a weight bench. Scoot your entrance foot out such that if you sink right into a break up squat, your entrance knee can attain 90 levels and your again knee will level carefully towards the bottom. Carry out your break up squat whereas retaining your again foot raised behind you. Place the emphasis of the push in your entrance leg, driving your entrance foot into the bottom.

Belt Squat

The belt squat is a decrease physique motion that may be achieved to extend leg energy and hypertrophy whereas minimizing decrease again and hip stress. You’ll want a particular machine or a dip belt for this one, however the outcomes can be value it in the event you can entry one. You’ll squat as normal, however as a result of the load is thru your hips quite than in your again, you’ll spare your low again some pressure.

To carry out this motion, the lifter units themself inside a belt squat machine or hangs a load from their hips as they squat. You’ll want to stand on platforms that assist you to assume a deep squat place with out the load touching the ground. Whether or not you’re on a belt squat machine or utilizing a squat rack or energy rack to stabilize you, use your arms out in entrance of you to stabilize your motion.

Leg Press Ideas

It’s straightforward to slap on some weight plates, sit down, unlock the safeties, and leg press with out placing a lot thought into it. However in the event you’re actually aiming to enhance your leg energy and musculature with precision, you’ll need to have a extra surgical strategy to your set and rep scheme.

To Achieve Muscle

The leg press is a superb train to extend muscle hypertrophy of the quadriceps whereas limiting the extra pressure on the core and decrease again. As such, the leg press is likely one of the best squat accessory exercises on the market. Add this transfer after your squat session throughout leg day to essentially end off your quads and spur quite a lot of development.

Carry out three to 5 units of 12 to fifteen repetitions with a average to heavy load. Take every rep by means of a managed, full vary of movement.

[Read More: 12 Best Supplements for Muscle Growth of 2023]

To Enhance Power

Coaching the leg press for maximal energy is usually not really helpful (lower than 5 reps). However that doesn’t imply you may’t get quite a bit stronger utilizing the leg press. You need to use the leg press to construct baseline energy to offer a strong complement to your essential decrease physique actions. If that is going to be the principle energy motion of your program as a result of you may’t barbell squat, you’ll nonetheless construct energy just a little in another way than you would possibly in the event you had been aiming to find your one-rep max.

Do three to 6 units of eight to 10 reps with a heavy load. Be sure you can management to weight and go to a full vary of movement.

[Read More: How to Deadlift 500 Pounds (and More)]

To Construct Endurance

The leg press can be utilized to develop muscle endurance of the quadriceps much like different higher-rep actions. Not like high-rep squatting, the leg press locations extra emphasis on the quadriceps’ muscular endurance. Excessive-rep squats can typically be restricted by decrease again and core endurance.

Carry out three to 4 units of 15 to twenty gradual, managed reps with gentle to average masses. Management the burden and check out counting to 5 with every half every rep.

[Read More: How to Balance Running and Strength Training, No Matter Your Goals]

Advantages of the Leg Press

The squat could be the extra glamorous of those two huge lower-body lifts. However in the event you’re seeking to develop huge, robust quads, don’t sleep on the leg press. Right here’s why.

Construct Power Submit Harm

Verify in with a health care provider earlier than diving again into coaching after an damage. However in the event you’ve been cleared for exercise, the leg press will help ease you extra safely return to strength training after time off.

It doesn’t take lots of core stability, coordination, or exert lots of strain in your decrease and higher again like a barbell squat does. You can begin rebuilding your energy with out different forms of stress in your physique.

Enhance Quadriceps Growth

Chasing teardrop quads? Want extra highly effective legs to gas all the things from box jumps to stronger squats? Whether or not your purpose is aesthetics, energy, or each, the leg press is your new finest accent train.

Strikes just like the back squat and front squat depend on again and core energy along with leg energy to construct as much as most lifts. However the leg press permits lifters and athletes to assault the quadriceps with out different muscle teams holding them again.

Decrease Direct Load within the Again

The leg press permits lifters to cut back loading on the backbone but nonetheless prepare the decrease physique. When you’re seeking to dramatically improve your heavy leg quantity whereas not placing stress in your again like a squat or a deadlift does, the leg press can get you there.

[Read More: Squats Causing You Low Back Pain? Try This Unilateral Leg Workout]

Since your complete torso can be supported by the backrest and seat, you don’t have to fret about stabilizing your core and low again all through the raise. And because you received’t be holding a loaded barbell in your arms (deadlift) or in your again (squat), your higher again will get a break, too.

Muscle mass Labored by the Leg Press

The leg press is a motion that targets the quadriceps. Your glutes and adductors may also get a good quantity of labor, particularly if you push this motion to its rull vary of movement. The hamstrings, whereas barely energetic on this motion, are a lot much less concerned than in a squat as a result of restricted quantities of hip flexion and extension whereas within the seated place.

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Adductors
  • Hamstrings

Who Ought to Do the Leg Press?

There’s no approach round it: the leg press merely isn’t a contest raise. However it might be all too straightforward for aggressive energy athletes to dismiss the transfer as superfluous. Whereas it’s not a strictly mandatory transfer, this can be a beneficial accent for a lot of various kinds of athletes.

  • Novices: When you’re new to the gymnasium, the leg press is right. It’s fairly self-explanatory, secure, and doesn’t require lots of full-body energy and coordination. However it may possibly get you a lot robust.
  • Bodybuilders: Constructing the quadriceps and bringing them safely to absolute failure is a vital element of decrease physique hypertrophy for physique athletes. The leg press is a robust device in that respect.
  • Powerlifters and Strongman Athletes: Sure, powerlifters and strongwomen have to be extremely expert and robust with a barbell. And whereas the leg press isn’t a long-term substitution for these aggressive lifts, it’s nice for including quantity and depth to leg day with out consuming an excessive amount of into full-body restoration.
  • Non-Aggressive Gymgoers: There’s a center floor between learners and aggressive energy athletes. The typical, on a regular basis gymgoer could be very excited about leg energy and hypertrophy, even when they’re not going to compete. Enter the leg press for offering precisely these forms of beneficial properties.

[Read More: Squat Vs. Deadlift — Which Is Better for Strength, Mass, and Power?]

Frequent Leg Press Errors

Sure, the leg press may be one of many best leg exercises so as to add to your repertoire. However it’s solely going to be as efficient as you make it. Right here’s what not to do if you’re taking this train for a proverbial spin.

Locking Out Your Knees

The concept behind a powerful leg press is that you simply’ll be loading up fairly closely. With out all that stress in your decrease again {that a} barbell squat will inflict, this train offers you an incredible alternative to maneuver lots of weight with minimal concern to your again.

[Read More: The 8 Best Weight Plates You Can Buy (2023 Update)]

With all these weight plates angled above you, you do not need to lock out your knees between every rep. Doing so will place an undue quantity of stress in your muscle groups and tendons. As an alternative of fully locking out your legs, straighten them till you attain a gently prolonged place. Don’t proceed urgent and drive them to completely lock.

You’ll nonetheless get the advantages with out accumulating extra danger. In reality, you’ll keep extra constructive stress in your muscle groups by retaining your knees softly bent on the high.

Unintentional Partial Reps

Until you’re intentionally performing partial reps to give attention to a particular a part of the raise, don’t skimp in your vary of movement in the course of the leg press. Stopping when your legs hit a 90-degree angle simply received’t assist you to build muscle or increase strength as a lot as going as deep as you may with this motion.

Carry the tops of your thighs all the best way down to your chest or abdomen with every rep.

When you want extra room to extend your vary of movement than your chest or abdomen permits, strive widening your foot place barely and actively push your knees outward to assist get you deeper with every rep.

Knees Collapsing Inward

The primary muscle group you consider with the leg press might be your quads and with good cause. However your glutes additionally present an amazing quantity of energy and energy with this motion. 

Based mostly on completely different limb lengths and different particular person physique elements, your knees would possibly cave barely inward naturally. And that’s okay. But when your knees are collapsing dramatically inward with every rep, it would point out that your glutes are insufficiently engaged or simply plain weaker than you need them to be.

Put your glutes in a superb place that will help you out by retaining your knees out or not less than impartial.

Construct Larger Legs

For athletes chasing larger, stronger legs, the leg press is a really beneficial add-on to your program. You’ll be able to load up this accent motion with very heavy weight, making it a superb alternative if you need to overload your quadriceps. It’ll toast your glutes and adductors, too. And it’ll do all of this with out all that added stress in your decrease again and hips. Slide right into a leg press machine in the present day and watch your quads develop.


What’s the leg press good for?

The leg press is a dependable solution to load up a excessive quantity of weight whereas including minimal stress to your decrease again. You’ll develop an amazing quantity of leg energy, specializing in quad and glute hypertrophy.

This transfer can also be nice for learners as a result of it’s carried out with a machine. It’s not practically as technically demanding as a barbell squat, so you may construct lots of energy with solely just a little expertise.

Is the leg press higher than squats?

Within the battle of leg press versus squat, one factor is obvious: the leg press machine is extra helpful than squat purists can have you consider. You’ll place quite a bit much less stress in your decrease again and the remainder of your physique with the leg press, which may be very beneficial to lots of athletes.

That stated, there’s actually no matching the barbell again squat’s full-body coordination, stability, core energy, higher again energy, and general lower-body engagement.

When you’re aiming for a full-body expertise, go for the again squat. However if you’d like a lower-pressure accent and even essential raise for a low-impact coaching cycle, the leg press is a superb possibility.

What muscle groups does the leg press work?

The leg press is nearly all about your quadriceps. Not like the again squat, which additionally entails lots of funding out of your hamstrings, the leg press actually brings your quads to the entrance of the pack.

That stated, additionally, you will develop very robust glutes and adductors with the leg press. That is very true if you undergo a full vary of movement, bringing your thighs as far down into your chest and stomach as you may with every rep.

Function Picture: SOK Studio / Shutterstock

Trending Merchandise

Add to compare
IRON °FLASK Sports Water Bottle – 32 Oz, 3 Lids (Straw Lid), Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel, Double Walled…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Water Bottle Insulated 32oz 40oz 64oz 128oz Straw Lid Spout Lid & 3 Lids, Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated,Stainless Steel…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Venture Pal Large 64 oz/Half Gallon Motivational Water Bottle with 2 Lids (Chug and Straw), Leakproof BPA Free Sports…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Coldest Sports Water Bottle with Straw Lid Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Metal Thermos Bottles Reusable Leak Proof…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 HYDROLOGY Adventure Water Bottle with 3 LIDS | Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth | Sports Hot…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 Hydrology Water Bottle – 18 oz, 22 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz, or 64 oz with 3 LIDS Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless…
Add to compare
Add to compare
COKTIK 32 oz Sports Water Bottle With Straw,3 Lids, Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottles,Leakproof Lightweight…
Add to compare
Add to compare
HYDRARANK Half Gallon Water Bottle with Straw and Chug Lid – 2.2L Gym Water Jug with Storage Sleeve and Handle – BPA…
Add to compare
Add to compare
JoyJolt Borosilicate Glass Water Bottle with Strap, Silicone Sleeve and Lid (Grey). 20oz Water Bottles. Reusable Water…
Add to compare

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart