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How To: Leg Press

Leg Press
The leg press is one of few machines worth using in your gym, why?

The leg press is fantastic for applying progressive overload to the legs, with emphasis easily being placed on lagging muscle groups be it the quads, hamstrings or glutes simply by adjusting your foot placement on the sled.

A wider, higher up stance will emphasise the hamstrings and glutes, meanwhile a narrower, lower down the sled style of stance will place greater emphasis on the quads.

Movement: Compound

Targets: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves

Required: Leg Press Machine

Optional: N/A

Leg Press Form:

Sit down on a leg press machine with your feet in the middle of the leg press sled at a shoulder width distance apart (we'll discuss variations of foot placement below).

Lower the safety rails and extend your legs until locked out with the desired weight on your leg press machine.

While inhaling proceed to flex your knees to lower the sled down to the 90 degree mark.

Pause for 1 second.

Drive through your heels to power the sled back up until your legs are extended once again.

Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions before putting the safety rails back on to finish your set (don't let the sled fall on you!).

See also
How To: Handstand Push-Up

Leg Press Press Variations

High & Wide Stance Leg Press

Lagging hamstrings and glutes?
Use your leg press to emphasise your hamstrings and glutes by placing your feet in a wider and high stance on your leg press' sled.

Narrow & Short Stance Leg Press

Lagging quads?
Use your leg press to emphasise your quads by placing your feet in a narrow and low stance on your leg press' sled.

Common Leg Press Mistakes

Lifting Too Heavy

When squatting or using the leg press ‘getting out of the hole’ aka. the bottom portion of the movement is without a doubt the hardest. If you’re performing half reps because you’re unable to get the weight out of the hole it’s a clear sign you’re lifting too heavy. Stacking more and more weight on the bar or the machine may make you feel good… but you won’t see that weight translate into size or strength gains. Check your ego at the door and lift weight which you’re able to manage (while still being a challenge in the prescribed rep range) utilizing a full range of motion.

Poor Mobility

If you’re new to the gym and you’ve spent the last decade working in an office day in day out chances are your mobility isn’t the greatest. Constant practise combined with stretching, foam rolling and a mobility routine will have you getting low on those squats in no time, tight hip flexors (from sitting all day) are notorious for this.

See also
How To: Ankle Biters

Being Lazy

There’s nothing pretty about performing heavy leg exercises multiple times at 5am in the morning. But the feeling of accomplishment, constant progression, mental fortitude and discipline it builds is worth it.
Squatting or performing the leg press heavy with a full range of motion sucks, but if you’re using the right weight and you’ve developed the mobility to work a full range of motion you have no excuse.


Similar & Substitute Exercises 

  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Dumbbell Walking Lunges

Any Questions Regarding The Leg Press? Ask Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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