Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredMachine
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Adductors, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back
Target Muscle Group


Quads Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Leg Press Overview

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.

Leg Press Instructions

  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.

Leg Press Tips

  1. To keep tension on the quads, keep the knees just shy of lockout.
  2. To emphasize the glutes more, push through the heels.
  3. To emphasize the quads more, push through the balls of the feet.
  4. Don’t allow the hips to posteriorly tilt and roll off the pad.
  5. Keep your low back flat against the pad throughout the movement.
  6. Maintain a neutral head position by not looking up or down excessively.
  7. Self spotting is possible by simply applying pressure to the knees with the hands. Use only when necessary.
  8. Toe angle is individual and will depend upon each individual’s hip anatomy and ankle mobility - experiment and adjust based upon feel.
Posted on: Sun, 06/30/2024 - 18:12

What does self spotting mean in this context? “Self spotting is possible by simply applying pressure to the knees with the hands. Use only when necessary”.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 06/30/2024 - 19:58

When you need to self-spot, you can place your hands on your knees and push on your knees so your triceps can assist in helping you get the weight up.

Posted on: Thu, 02/14/2019 - 03:20

I wonder where is abs exercise in that routine?!

Posted on: Mon, 02/04/2019 - 06:02

Is there’s an alternative for leg press? Without machines

Jared Trigalet
Posted on: Wed, 06/19/2019 - 18:39

The same results can be achieved using cables it’s virtually the same as a squat.

Helen Trainer
Posted on: Tue, 01/04/2022 - 11:21

How do you do this with cables?

Anwar khan
Posted on: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 19:56

why the hell i did'nt start here i'll never know i love the way your page is and will follow the plans im diabetic 2 can you tell me if all the supplements are OK to take thank you

Posted on: Sat, 10/12/2013 - 11:39

I train at Gold Gym Mumbai. I am told that while executing the Leg Press that when the weight is lowered, the thighs should be at a ninety degree angle to the Floor. In the video the leg goes beyond the 90 degree angle. At 90 degree angle i am able to handle 810 lbs pounds. At the angle in the video i am able to handle only 450 lbs. Please advise which is the better option.

Posted on: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 06:24

Could you please tell me with these all beginner exercises, do I have to use light weight, heavy weight or the weight which I can bear to do the reps mentioned. Also, these exercises do I have to do daily or do alternate days. Thanks

Posted on: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 01:34

I like this routine on Leg press.
two sets 25 reps X 45's on each side.
Add two 45s with 20 reps
Add two 45s with 15 reps
add two 45s with 10 reps.
Add Two 45s with 5 reps.
I'm almost 60 and it helps me get back into shape.
I'm not ready to do Squats.
prior to this I do 50 crunches, 50 back extensions and 50 side bends on machine.

Posted on: Tue, 05/21/2013 - 11:21

Is a cable leg press a suitable replacement? I'm pretty sure my new gym doesn't have a 45 degree leg press... Or should I squat instead...

Posted on: Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:48

Great looking program - will consider this for my next routine - thanks

Posted on: Sat, 02/23/2013 - 16:54

I've been doing these for about four weeks now and the arch of my left foot starts to burn every time I do them. It's only my left foot and I don't understand what I could be doing wrong?

Posted on: Tue, 02/12/2013 - 22:29

Leg Press

Posted on: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 08:11

If I can do squats with 17-20kg on bodypump, how much should I have for this 45 Degree Leg Press? I plan to do 3 sets of 20 reps.
I am female :)

Posted on: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 04:14

New member

Posted on: Sun, 06/24/2012 - 21:13

I don't have this machine so is there a replacement workout for this that doesn't require this machine ?

Posted on: Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:43

You are the best.

Posted on: Wed, 05/09/2012 - 18:13

Doing squats will target the same muscle groups as the 45 degree leg press. It just allows you to put more weight and focuses on just your legs rather than a barbell sitting on your traps. You're able to do more weight with this machine as well. Example, I can put 7 plates on each side and do 10 reps but put me with 2 plates on eachside doing squats + barbell, I'm struggling. I'd start with this if you were a beginner and have this at your local gym so your legs will get used to the tention, otherwise I'd go straight for the barbell and do weighted squats. Start at a comfortable but challenging weight and go from there.

Amit Gupta
Posted on: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 03:27

Dear Mr Steve thanks for the helpful exercises,our Gym does not have 45 degree leg press equipment it is only having the simple one i.e the straight one is it ok to perform the same exercise on the above mentioned Machine.

Posted on: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 12:14

Female in late 40's and enjoy working my quads yet I'm a beginner. How often can I work my quads for most effectiveness?

Posted on: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 01:31

not daily in my opinion. add more reps. do leg extension first before you do Leg press or Squats. Stretching the hamstrings and quads help alot also. ON days you don't to legs.

Posted on: Sun, 04/08/2012 - 22:30

I am doing this exercise all wrong. I was pushing with my toes and I felt it in my knees but the instructions say to push with my heels. This is a big help for me and so I am sure that I will find out more things that I am doing wrong. Correction is a good thing.

Posted on: Tue, 03/27/2012 - 00:53

whtas the right exercise to substitute leg press n leg curl if one is trainning at home?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/27/2012 - 09:33

Squats and dumbbell or barbell stiff leg deadlift.

regis beaken sr
Posted on: Sun, 09/02/2012 - 09:47

i have a complete home gym for $250 leg press and leg extension/curls call regis 717-359-0332. ok leg press substitute. place feet 6" away from wall about shoulder width apart. keep back and head against the wall slowly lower your body till your quads are parralell to floor raise up with heels a faster pace do not lock legs come up just prior to locking. do this 30 reps or less maybe say 10 for beginner. do 4 sets or less working your way up to this pace. if this gets too easy buy a 40 lb weight vest $60. wear it and resume exercise. probably from 10 reps. make sure back and neck are against the wall and don't go any deeper unless your experienced a torn knee is only a major setback.

Posted on: Sat, 03/17/2012 - 18:27

This it honestly the best workout website I've been on! It shows everything that I need to do! Thanks a lot!

extra resources
Posted on: Fri, 05/11/2012 - 03:24

1st time commenter here, the latest post convinced me to make a comment.
Thank you for everything you have written!