Leg Press

How to Leg Press:

The leg press is certainly an exercise you need to have an understanding of - how to perform the movement and how to use it. A topic often debated in the gym as to which is better for a lower body strength the squat or the leg press, knowing how to perform both movements is essential. Mastering the leg press can also help with your initial pull phase in the deadlift due to the similar knee/starting position.

Purpose of the movement:

The leg press is used to strengthen the lower body - predominately the anterior chain. Easy to use, minimal equipment to set up and reasonably safe to operate, the leg press is often used for an extra dose on the legs for hypertrophy gains because of the massive recruitment of the quads.

Muscles involved:

The key muscles involved in the leg press:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

Obviously other muscles play a role but these listed above are the key movers.

Equipment needed:

The key things you will need to perform the leg press:

  • Leg Press machine

Optional extra equipment:

  • knee sleves/wraps
  • weightlifting shoes/flat shoes

Step by Step guide:

  1. Before adding any weight to the machine, make sure the seat is locked into place at the correct height for you.
  2. Set the foot plate to be at a height where your knees are slightly bent once you are seated.
  3. Place feet shoulder width apart on the foot plate
  4. 'Unrack' the weight and release the safety handle
  5. Lower the weight until you reach the depth you are after usually around 90degrees knee flexion
  6. Drive through your heels and return the weight to the top position - don't lock knees out at the top.
  7. Once you have completed your set, lock safety handles back in place.

You can certainly play around with different foot position for different muscle recruitment:

  • Narrow feet - Quad dominant
  • Feet high on plate - more Glute and hamstring
  • Wide feet - increased adductors
  • Feet low on plate - Quad dominant

Top 5 Tips:

  1. Set foot plate to correct height before adding weight
  2. Ensure weight plates stacked on correctly - you don't need clips on the leg press
  3. Don't complete partial movement - full range!
  4. Don't lock knees out
  5. Ensure safety handles are locked in at end of set


The leg press can certainly be a very useful tool in the gym when performed well. Fantastic for strength, a must have for hypertrophy and great to use in a rehab setting. During the movement there is less load through the spine compared to the back squat, and it can easily be performed single leg which is a big plus when rehabbing a lower body injury.

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