How to Do a Leg Press

The leg press is well known by fitness enthusiasts for its ability to build strong upper legs. The exercise targets the hamstrings and quadriceps of the uppers legs, as well as the glutes. The maneuver can be performed on a horizontal leg press machine or on a 45-degree angle machine.

Performing leg presses on a regular basis will help you perform everyday activities such as climbing the stairs and squatting down to pick up objects. Improving lower body strength will also go a long way toward reducing injuries and pulled muscles.

How To

  • Before starting, you’ll want to make sure the machine is set up correctly. When seated on the machine with your head and back securely against the padding, your feet should be placed flat against the footplate at about hip width apart. You’ll want your knees to be bent at about a 90-degree angle.
  • Grip the support handles at your sides and engage your abdominal muscles. As you exhale, push the plate outward using the whole of your foot. Make sure to keep your head and back pressed into the padding and do not lock your knees once your legs are extended.
  • To complete the maneuver, take a breath and then inhale as you slowly bring your feet back in toward your body. Remember to go slowly throughout the entire movement.


A good starting point for leg presses is three sets of 10 repetitions with only a moderate amount of weight. As you build strength, you can consider adding more repetitions and more weight.


Foot placement: You can change up which muscles you target depending on your foot placement on the foot plate. Placing the feet at a wider distance will target the inner thigh, while a narrower foot placement will target the outer thighs. Placing the feet higher on the foot plate will target the hamstrings and glutes more, while placing the feet lower on the plate will target the quadriceps (this should be used with caution as it may cause strain to the knees).

One leg: Most people have a stronger side to their body. If you are looking to rectify this, leg presses can be performed one leg at a time to correct these imbalances.

Cautionary Notes

Your glutes should not rise off of the seat while performing the exercise. This can change the angle of the knee and cause stress to either the knee joint or to the glutes. If this keeps happening, consider decreasing the amount of weight you are pushing, or adjusting the height of the seat or foot plate.

If you have weak pelvic floor muscles, this exercise should be swapped out for something safer. Leg presses will place a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor. If you’re worried, consult a fitness professional before trying the exercise.

Those suffering from back pain or recovering from an injury should consult their doctor or a fitness trainer as this exercise can put enough pressure on the back to cause issues.

Remember not to hold your breath while performing the maneuver. Holding your breath can sometimes be useful when lifting extremely heavy loads, but most of the time it’s more of a hindrance than a benefit. Muscles need oxygen to perform at their best.

More Leg Press Related Resources

Leg Press – Exercise Database | Jefit – Best Android and iPhone Workout, Fitness, Exercise and Bodybuilding App | Best Workout Tracking Software
The Pros And Cons Of The Leg Press | Coach
5 Ways to Leg Press – Simply Gym
How to Do the Leg Press: Techniques, Benefits, Variations
Leg Press Single Machine Workout – Build Your Quads, Hamstrings and Glutes
Incline leg press exercise instructions and video | Weight Training Guide
Leg Press / Machine Squat Press ? WorkoutLabs Exercise Guide
Butt & Hip Exercises | Seated Leg Press

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