How To Do A Leg Press exercise – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: June 29, 2023
  • Time to read: 6 min.
How To Do A Leg Press exercise

If you’re looking to work your lower body in a comprehensive way, then the leg press exercise is an excellent choice. It’s easy to learn and can be done with minimal equipment.

The benefits of adding this move into your workout routine are numerous; it works multiple muscles at the same time including quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves, helping build muscular strength and power as well as improving mobility throughout your legs.

Moreover, by pressing through your ankles instead of your knees like you do during squats or lunges, there is less stress on joints in the limbs.

Keep reading for tips on how to properly perform the leg press exercise plus a few safe variations!

Muscles worked during Leg Press exercise

The Leg Press is one of the most popular weightlifting exercises. It’s a compound movement that works multiple muscles, such as quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. It also helps you develop core strength and stability.

The Leg Press machine lets you focus on your lower body by taking out the need for stabilization. Adjusting your feet on the platform can put more effort on certain muscles. For example, the VMO (teardrop muscle) will be activated if you put your feet lower and closer together.

There are various types of leg press machines like 45-degree angle sled, or seated leg press. Each targets different parts of the muscles.

Did you know? According to a study in Sports Biomechanics, keeping your knees at an angle greater than 90 degrees reduces knee joint forces.

Benefits of Leg Press exercise

Leg press is a great exercise for building lower body strength and increasing overall fitness. Here are 6 advantages of incorporating leg press into your routine:

  • It targets multiple muscles including the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.
  • It increases blood and oxygen supply to the muscles, thus improving muscular endurance.
  • It strengthens the major muscle groups to prevent injuries.
  • Different foot positions can target different muscle groups, making it a versatile option.
  • It builds strength, improves balance and stability, burns calories and helps with weight management.
  • It is suitable for beginners as it can be done using machines with adjustable resistance levels.

To prevent injury when performing leg press:

  • Start with lighter weights until you’re comfortable.
  • Check that your feet are in the right position on the footplate.
  • Keep your back flat against the seatback.

How To Do A Leg Press Exercise

The leg press is a popular lower body exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. It’s typically performed on a leg press machine. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Set Up The Machine

First, adjust the seat of the machine so that you can sit comfortably with your back against the padded support. Your feet should be able to reach the platform in front of you without straining.

Step 2: Position Yourself

Sit down on the machine and place your feet on the platform. Your feet should be hip-width apart, and your toes should be pointed slightly outwards. Make sure your back and hips are firmly pressed against the pads.

Step 3: Choose Your Weight

Select an appropriate weight on the machine. It’s better to start with a lighter weight and ensure you can perform the exercise with proper form. You can increase the weight as your strength improves.

Step 4: Unrack the Weight

Extend your legs to push the platform away from you, which will lift the weights off the rack. Make sure not to lock your knees at the top of the movement. This is your starting position.

Step 5: Lower the Weight

Slowly bend your knees and lower the platform towards you. Keep your feet flat on the platform and make sure your knees are in line with your feet. Continue until your thighs and lower legs form a 90-degree angle.

Step 6: Push the Weight

Push through your heels to extend your legs and push the platform away from you. Again, make sure not to lock your knees at the top of the movement.

Step 7: Repeat

Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. When you’re finished, make sure to return the weights to the rack safely.

Proper Form for Leg Press exercise

Proper Form for Leg Press Exercise:

For a successful exercise, proper form and technique must be observed. If not, injury could occur. Here’s a 5-step guide!

  1. Sit on the machine and place feet shoulder-width apart on the platform.
  2. Push away with heels until legs are extended, but not locked out.
  3. Return the platform while keeping knees bent at 90-degree angle.
  4. Repeat this motion for desired repetitions.
  5. Exhale as you push away, and inhale as you bring the platform back in.


Avoid locking out legs at full extension as it increases pressure on joints – risking injury. Instead, keep a slight bend in knees throughout the movement.

True Facts:

The machine allows for heavier weights than free weights due to its back support system (Livestrong).

Common Mistakes while doing Leg Press exercise

Be mindful of mistakes while doing leg press, as they can lead to unwanted injuries and ineffective workouts. Here are some common ones to avoid:

  • Having feet too high or too low on the platform – causes strain on knees or lower back.
  • Bending knees inward – increases risk of injuring knees.
  • Locking out knees at the top of movement – reduces tension, puts pressure on joints.
  • Using too much weight or not using a full range of motion – hampers muscle growth, increases risk of injury.
  • Raising hips off seat – shifts focus from legs to lower back and glutes, causing pain.

To maximize benefits, make sure to adjust foot placement to hip width; maintain posture; exhale during extension phase; inhale when returning to start. Remember to warm up first and start with lighter weights – overloading may lead to spinal injuries. A study by Dr. Joseph Mercola ( showed that any neglected part of the routine may lead to long-term risks.

Variations of Leg Press exercise

Leg press exercises are effective compound movements that target big muscles in the lower body. Different variations offer unique advantages and difficulties, so you can customize your workout to your goals. Here’s a rundown of the types, muscles worked, benefits, correct forms and common mistakes.

Types of Leg Press Exercises:

Machine Leg Press

Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings

Benefits: Fully engages quadriceps; reduces pressure on lower back and knees.

Proper Form and Tips: Sit on machine with back against pad and feet on footplate. Push plate away while focusing on contracting quads. Avoid locking knees; keep core tight.

Common Mistakes: Pushing off with toes rather than entire foot; not using full range of motion. Avoid using too much weight that can result in injury or other risks.

Sled Leg Press

Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings

Benefits: Variety in rep-ranges.

Proper Form and Tips: Lie on back with feet on sled platform. Bend knees down towards chest then drive up platform. Keep weight distributed evenly across both feet. Keep back flat against platform. Distribute weight evenly across both feet; keep core engaged throughout lift.

Common Mistakes: Locking out knees at the top of motion.

Bulgarian Split Squat Leg Press

Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calf muscles

Benefits: Increase muscle activation; improve overall balance and stability.

Proper Form and Tips: Place one foot about two feet in front of other with back foot elevated on a bench or step. Lower body into squat then drive through heel towards standing position. Switch sides after set complete. Engage glutes; maintain upright posture with chest forward. Keep raised foot firmly on platform to avoid any imbalance.

Common Mistakes: Failing to keep proper form by leaning forward. Avoid using too much weight that can cause injury or place unnecessary strain on joints.

Single-Leg Press:

Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings

Benefits: Addresses muscular imbalances; increased difficulty level compared to dual-leg press.

Proper Form and Tips: Sit on machine with one leg while placing opposite leg behind you. Extend working leg directly away from body without locking knee; repeat for alternate side. Avoid using momentum from back foot or swinging arms; focus on using one leg throughout entire set.

Common Mistakes: Failing to use proper form when lifting leg up. Avoid using too much weight that can cause injury or place unnecessary strain on joints.

Remember: Not all leg press exercises are suitable for everyone. Always consult with a certified personal trainer to make sure you’re doing them correctly and safely. Mix it up and challenge yourself with new variations to reach your fitness goals. Your body will thank you!

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