Leg Press

The leg press is a great all-over leg builder. Here, we break it down for you.

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Aside from squats, one of the best moves you can do to develop your stems is the leg press. Working the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and stabilizing muscles, a solid leg-press workout can leave your legs busted!

Muscles worked: quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, hip flexors

  1. Place your feet hip-width apart and flat on the center of the platform with your toes slightly turned out (like you would have them in a squat). This is the optimal position to engage the entire posterior chain and generate the most power.
  2. Grasp the bars on either side of your hips for support. This will help steady you in the machine and help your lower back stay in contact with the seat back.
  3. Extend your legs slightly to lift the cart and de-weight the stops, then open the stops so the full weight of the cart is supported by your legs. Your legs should be straight with your knees soft and not locked.
  4. Slowly bend your knees to lower the cart toward your chest, tracking your knees over your toes — not inward or outward — and keeping your feet in full contact with the platform at all times.
  5. When your knees make a 90-degree angle, press through your heels to drive the cart back to the start. Pushing through your heels engages the power of the glutes and hamstrings, combining that with the force of the quads to move the load.

Beginner Tip: Use the cart with no weight plates at first to get used to the mechanics of the move. Then add weight slowly as you get stronger.

Heels rising off the platform?

  • You’ve lowered the cart too far.
  • Your feet are placed too low.
  • You have a limited range of motion in your calves and ankles.

Do This:

First try repositioning your feet a little higher on the platform. (Remember that in the down position, your knees should make a 90-degree angle). If that’s not the issue, then you’re probably tight. Shorten your range of motion during the move to accommodate your limitations, and after training, work on stretching your calves and ankles to increase your flexibility.

Other Exercises That Work The Same Muscles:

  • Lunge
  • Squat
  • Hack Squat
  • Smith-machine squat
  • Walking Lunge

Tip: Change your foot position on the platform to change the focus of the move. A narrow stance puts more emphasis on the outer quads, while a wide stance — with your toes and knees turned out — will work more the inner quads and inner thighs.

Tip: Your hips and lower back should always be in contact with the seat. If they rise away from the seat, you’re going too heavy or too low or both.