Leg Press

Exercise Details for Leg Press

  • Primary Muscle
  • Secondary Muscle
    Gluteus, Hamstrings, Calves
  • Equipment
  • Level

Why Should You do Leg Press?

The leg press is a good exercise if you want to increase muscle mass. The exercise mainly activates the quads (quadriceps, all four muscles. However, the buttocks (gluteus maximus) and hamstrings get some strain too. The leg press is an excellent alternative for squats as it is exercised in a machine. The machine has safety locks making it easy to run yourself at the gym without being afraid of injuries. Unlike Squats, Leg Press focuses and insulates only the legs, whereas Squats connect more parts of the body.

The exercise is quite simple. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when doing it.


Sit in the machine and place your back against the backrest. If you can change the backrest angle, have more than a 90-degree angle between your legs and upper body. It will then be easier to go further down in motion without bending the back end.
Place your feet on the plate in front of you. Do not have your feet too high up on the plate because you lose contact with the quads. You should also not have your feet too far down either as it can injure your knees. The feet should be shoulder-width apart, and the toes angled slightly outwards.


Bend your legs as much as you can in line with your shoulders. Your knees should therefore end up outside your body so that you can go deep down. The whole foot should rest against the plate during the entire movement. Do not go up on the toe or heels, and do not bend your back end during the movement. However, ensure that the shoulder blades are always in the backrest and do not lift your head forward. Come as far down as you can with the plate (less than a 90-degree angle in the knee joint). Now you are in the bottom position.

Now push up the weight by straightening your knees. Never extend your legs entirely in the top position. This should be emphasized as there is a risk that your knees will lock and cause injury. Perform the exercise slowly and tense the muscles you are exercising.

Mix It Up

Even though the leg press is a quad exercise, you can change focus a little bit. Indeed, place your feet higher up on the weight plate, and the focus will shift to the buttocks and hamstrings. You can also run wider between the feet to activate the back even more. However, other exercises that mainly focus on the hamstrings are better since they are more focused.

Guided steps for Leg Press

  • Make sure that the back pad is tilted at least 90 degrees, preferably more
  • The whole foot should be pressed against the plate all the time, do not go up on the toe
  • Your toes should point slightly outwards
  • Your knees should bend in line with your toes (slightly outwards)
  • Your knees should be in line with your shoulders, and in the bottom position they should end up outside the body 
  • Do not bend the back end
  • Make sure that the rear and buttocks never leave the backrest
  • Do not pull your head forward, it bends the back end
  • Remember to use the safety catches so that you do not injure yourself
  • Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up
  • Perform the exercise slowly and with many reps

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