Primary Muscle Group: Quadriceps, Hamstrings
Secondary Muscle Group: Glutes
Equipment Needed: Leg Press Machine
The Benefits of Leg Press
The leg press is a variation of the squat and an exercise used to target the muscles of the leg.
One can utilize the leg press to target both the quads and the hamstring muscle, depending on which portion of the foot they push through.
The leg press is commonly thought of as a machine variation of the barbell back squat. The mechanics are fairly similar, however, the leg press does not completely mimic the movement pattern of the squat. Nor does it work all of the muscle groups that the squat does.
The leg press is best used as an accessory movement to the squat, or as a primary movement in gyms which lack the necessary equipment to train the squat movement pattern.
If you are looking for other exercises that are the best for building muscle or wanting to lose body fat then you should check our Free Workout Plan or our Workout Plans With Coaching for professionally designed workout plans that have been proven to get results.
The Risks of doing Leg Press
To properly execute a leg Press, always start with a lighter weight. You don't want to force your body to overcompensate by lifting the hips and flexing your lower back. This fails to isolate the quads and hamstrings and can also cause injury to your back. Select a weight that allows you to do 8 to 12 repetitions with reasonable effort and good form.
How To Do Leg Press
How To Do Leg Press
1. Load the machine with the desired weight and take a seat.
2. Sit down and position your feet on the sled with a shoulder width stance.
3. Take a deep breath, extend your legs, and unlock the safeties.
4. Lower the weight under control until the legs are roughly 45 degrees or slightly below.
5. Drive the weight back to the starting position by extending the knees but don’t forcefully lockout.
6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
For Perfect Technique
To keep tension on the quads, keep the knees just shy of lockout.
To emphasize the glutes more, push through the heels.
To emphasize the quads more, push through the balls of the feet.
Don’t allow the hips to posteriorly tilt and roll off the pad.
Keep your low back flat against the pad throughout the movement.
Maintain a neutral head position by not looking up or down excessively.
Self spotting is possible by simply applying pressure to the knees with the hands. Use only when necessary as this is an easy way to cheat the exercise.
Toe angle is individual and will depend upon each individual’s hip anatomy and ankle mobility - experiment and adjust based upon feel.
Once you have mastered the Leg Press exercise you can try alternative exercises that target similar muscle groups such as;
How To Do a Walking Lunge
1. Stand upright, feet together, and take a controlled step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles.
2. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle.
3. Press your right heel into the ground, and push off with your left foot to bring your left leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. This completes two reps.
How To Do a Barbell Squat
1. Set up for the exercise by setting the barbell to just below shoulder height and loading the weight you want to use.
2. Stand under the bar with your feet at about shoulder width apart.
3. Position the bar so that it is resting on the muscles on the top of your back, not on the back of your neck. The bar should feel comfortable. If it doesn't, try adding some padding to the bar.
4. Now take your hands over the back and grip the bar with a wide grip for stability.
5. You should now bend at the knees and straighten your back in preparation to take the weight off the rack.
6. Keeping your back straight and eyes up, push up through the legs and take the weight off the rack. Take a small step back and stabilize yourself.
7. Keeping your eyes facing forward slowly lower your body down. Don't lean forward as you come down. Your buttocks should come out and drop straight down.
8. Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, and then slowly raise your body back up by pushing through your heels.
9. Do not lock the knees out when you stand up, and then repeat the movement.