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How to Do Leg Press Correctly?

Whether you are an athlete or one who doesn’t miss leg days, you should know how to do Leg Press correctly.

Getting workouts wrong is easy and expensive. We want you to get your form right. In this article, we will talk all about how to do Leg Press correctly, the muscles worked, alternative workouts, and who should do them.

Let’s start with..

What is Leg Press?

Leg Press is a weight training workout for strength involves pushing weights or resistance away with your legs.

There are few Leg Press variations such as vertical, horizontal and incline. Most common of all is the horizontal one which is also the Seated Leg Press – we would demonstrate today.

Step by Step Instructions

As we’ve mentioned before, having an improper technique and poor form can be an expensive injury. It is dangerous only when we are ignorant. Before doing any workout, we should at least once look into the proper technique.

Sometimes a slight wrong foot can cause injury.

So, let’s look step-by-step on how to get the right leg Press form which is not only effective but also risk-free.

Step 1:  Adjust your Leg Press Machine (Cybex) with back seat and foot plate.

Back Seat Inclination: Keep the incline number in the middle which is mostly for everyone.

Foot pedal: Adjust the plate where your legs make a 90-degree angle when you sit.

Step 2: Sit on the seat with a straight back and neutral spine

Step 3: Keep your foot higher for a 90-degree angle and make sure your knees align with your heel.

Step 4: Hold the side handle, push with your heels and don’t completely straighten your legs.

Step 5: Slowly bring back the foot pedal and make sure not to bring all the way where weights touch on the stack.

After following the above steps, you should feel your leg muscles worked in glutes, quads, hamstring, and calves.

Leg Press Muscled Worked

Glutes and quads are the primary muscled worked, whereas hamstring and calves are the secondary muscles worked.

1. Glutes

Most of the lower-body workouts activate the glutes, which act as a stabilizer.

When you do a Leg Press, Glutes perform the similar role and fully engage in both the motions, having a primary impact.

Lower Reps & more weight will case the glutes to become thicker and stronger which would help in almost every exercise that uses the lower body.

2. Quads

Quads are primary muscled used on the push, and as stabilizers on the second. The four section muscle is the strongest of the muscles due to its size and use.

Quads are key muscles on the lower legs required for bursts of dashes. Leg Press is the most effective workout you can do for your quads after squats. (More on it later.

3. Hamstring

The back side of quads plays a significant role is supporting the quads during the Leg Press.

They are initially used for a push then play a major role as a stabilizer in the retreat back. Hamstrings and quads complement each other in all the lower leg exercises and stabilize your motion.

4. Calves

Calves play a supporting role for a smooth workout.

Leg Press tones your calves and prevents injury providing endurance throughout the workout.

Doing Leg Press with toes and increase the impact on the calves, however, it is recommended to use your heels when pushing the foot pedal.

5. Hip Adductors

The inners sides of your thighs perform a variety of functions such as flexing and rotating your legs.

When you Leg Press, they stabilize the motion, keep your legs aligned, and prevent stress on thighs.

You can achieve the same results with doing squats, as well. Let’s look at what the difference is and who should do what?

Leg Press Vs Squats

Leg Press is seated, uses weights, and performed on a machine.

Squats require standing and lifting weights on your shoulders, usually.

Both work on the same muscles and people do argue on which one is better. We believe both have different purposes depending on your goal. Both can be used interchangeably and none is better than the other.

In Squats, your core is engaged and it gives you an overall balance between the upper and lower body. However, squats need a meticulous form to avoid injury.

Let’s dive into which one is better for you:

Who should do Leg Press?

1. Beginners

Leg Press is great for beginners as they help you prepare for other alternative workouts such as squats. Starting off with lower weight and higher reps is best for beginners to build their endurance and strength.

2. Toning

If you want to tone your lower legs, Leg Press is one of the most recommended ones. With lower weights and higher reps, you can turn your quad and glutes fat into muscles.

3. Squat Alternative

Squats can be little scary for some and slight improper technique may hurt your back.

Or, even if you are just starting out and have weaker legs, Leg Press is the workout for you to get your legs stronger and get your form right.

4. Cybex Leg Press Machine (Vs Squat)

There is an argument over what is better for you; weights or machines. For quads and glutes workout, if you have a Cybex Leg Press machine, then go for the machine.

Cybex Leg Press machine gives you an extra support to keep your spine straight and handles to better grip your position.

5. Sports Conditioning

If you are recovering from an injury, Leg Press can be great for you on lower weights.

Similarly, if you are training for sports, Leg Press can condition your legs for strength and endurance. Great for athletes who need to run extra miles than the rest.

Who should do Squats?

Squats too tone your legs and conditions you for sports due to its more compound impact. However, there are more reasons to do squats, which you don’t get from doing Leg Press.

1. Full Lower Activation

Squat will engage your complete lower body and work you every muscle.

This compound workout is great for stabilization which requires every muscle to play a part. Not a bad workout, if you want to warm-up before a performance.

2. Function

Leg Press target specific muscles at specific movements. Squats engage more as they need you to stay balanced.

The conditioning of balance makes your body functional and agile. Squats are slightly better in this regard.

3. Stronger Core

All the weight is one you, you need to watch out for your back.

Squats will push you to keep a straighter back, failure to that can cause serious injury. However, with discipline, you can work your core along with your lower body, for significant results.

Other Leg Press Alternatives

Incline & Vertical Leg Press are also seated, and target the same muscles with different intensity. Gravity plays a role as the body is lower than the foot plate.
Whereas, Hack Squats are the reverse of the Vertical Leg Press. You are standing on the machine and lifting the weight with your shoulders.


Foot Placements change the impact of the workout. Check out the five different foot placement on Leg Press.



Stay Tuned for more on our workout series.
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