How to Leg Press | 3 Leg Press Variations for Max Gains

How to Leg Press | 3 Leg Press Variations for Max Gains

Other than the squat, the leg press is a fundamental, mass-building exercise for lower body development. It isolates your lower half by mitigating upper body involvement while still requiring a strong force output from your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and even calves.

It is also a very safe movement to perform because your spine is not loaded and your body is in a fixed position executing the exercise through a fixed range-of-motion.  

Through subtle technique variations, you can target different muscle groups allowing for total leg development from only one exercise. 

The Standard Leg Press

The standard leg press begins with placing your feet in the center, or slightly lower, of the plate with toes pointed slightly out. Feet should be just outside shoulder-width apart.

Without rounding your back and in a controlled fashion, lower the weight down just until your glutes begin to lift off the seat. This will likely be when your legs reach a 90-degree angle.

When pushing the weight back up, ensure to push through your heels and do not lock your knees at the top! This places the knee in a very vulnerable position and can result in serious injury.  

The standard leg press predominantly targets the quads and the glutes.

Ham & Glute Variation

With a flex knee, bring your feet toes up to the top of the pad.

Remembering not to round your back, similarly lower the weight until you feel yourself beginning to lift off the seat, and push back up driving through your heels. 

Inner-thigh Leg Press

*This is dependent on the machine being used*

Similar to a sumo deadlift, widen your foot placement with your feet in the middle of the pad - your toes should be close to the edges of the plate. 

The same principles of form on the concentric and eccentric portions of the lift apply here, too; push through the heels, keep it controlled, don’t lock your knees, and when you start to raise from the seat, push the weight back up. 

Practical Recommendations

There are endless ways to incorporate these variations into your own workouts. Begin first with the standard variation to establish a strength and technique base. Then, slowly experiment with the others as you grow in confidence with the exercise. 

Just remember; focusing on progression and balancing intensity is key to maximizing your gains, so train hard, but train smart!

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