Leg Press And Feet Placement Explained

The leg press is one of the complex exercises for legs that can be used in many ways as well as you will find different types of leg press machine. Continue reading to find out more about how to develop and adapt your leg day with different foot placement on the leg press machine.

You may not realize it, but placement of your feet when you are on leg press really matters. It is also a great way to make your workout more versatile every time. While barbell back squat is widely considered as one of the best leg exercises, I personally prefer leg press because I was able to develop more strength than with back squat. However, both leg press and squat are complex exercises, so you can target more muscles by doing one exercise. Seated leg press builds your quads as well as your glutes and calves. The leg press is great for isolation the legs, making it a perfect exercise for developing both strength and mass quickly. Also, the leg press is more safe than squat because it only allows standard movement that minimizes chances of injury. The leg press is not recommended to anyone with lower back problems or hip/knee issues due to a lot of stress on the lumbar spine and joints although, still safer than squat due to reduces stress.

As I will talk about the different placement of the feet, there are also different types of the leg press machine itself. You will find a sitting horizontal leg press and angled leg press machine where you put your feet against a platform above your head, or you will find a vertical leg press machine where you lay horizontally on your back with your legs vertically towards the ceiling. Also, in some bodybuilding gyms, you will find another type such as single-leg press, standing leg press, plate-loaded leg press machine of different angles.

Horizontal Leg Press Machine

With the horizontal leg press version, you use a different type of movement with a direct drive. These are the easiest of all leg press machines because their mechanism is parallel to the ground. The weights may either be positioned in front of, underneath, or even behind you, depending on the design.

Angled Leg Press Machine

This type of leg press features a seat that inclines to the specified angle and a weighted system that is controlled on an incline by a sled mechanism. When performed properly the knees are at about 90° angle to the body, and the weight is pushed at an angle while you remain seated. Proper positioning of the feet is crucial - we will talk about it below.

Vertical Leg Press Machine

This model is different in that they are specifically designed to maintain proper support for your back and hips. Because of the added task of defying gravity, this model provides great levels of growth through a maximum performance of the leg muscles.

Other Types of Leg Press Machine

Foot Placement Variations

Most of the leg press allows you to place your feet into different positions. Also, you can activate the quads more by pushing with the toes or engage the glutes more by pushing through the heels. This concept applies to all leg-pushing exercises. Therefore, you are able to target specific muscles and achieve leg strength and muscle definition because of its stability to isolate the lower body it is an ideal exercise for moving heavy weights. However, the correct seated posture is very important for safe use.

Standart Stance

Standard shoulder-width foot placement in the middle of the platform is the most widely used leg press form for overall leg development.

Wide Stance

By positioning the feet wide, with toes slightly flared out you can work more the abductors, inner hamstrings, and inner quads. This works your inner thighs.

Narrow Stance

A narrow stance puts more emphasis on the adductors and outer quad.

High Narrow Stance

High feet placement increases the degree of hip extension and flexion while reducing the range of motion around the knees. You will emphasize more your glutes and upper hamstrings.

Low Stance

A low foot placement reduces the degree of hip extension and flexion while increasing the range of motion around the knees. In this case, you get more quad activation and less involvement of the glutes and hamstrings.

You can also do calf raises by placing your feet at the bottom edge of the leg press platform.

Benefits Of Leg Press Machine

  • a great option for those who have difficulty squatting due to back or knee pain, because of reduced stress load on the back, whilst challenging your leg muscles

  • the extension of your knees against the resistance offered by the leg press works your thigh muscle

  • strengthen your knee and hip joints

  • can be used to develop strength and/or muscle size depending on the type of training

  • the action of extending your hips works your butt or gluteus maximus muscles

  • the load-bearing effect of the leg press strengthens your legs bones


The leg press is another complex exercise for legs and it doesn't get to be boring due to different foot placement as well as different leg press machines. The option of different foot placements allow isolate specific muscles, this decreases an eventual adaptation of your muscles and decreases failure to progress. Because the leg press allows movement in a fixed pattern, it is a great exercise for beginners, or for people coming back from an injury, who need to master a correct and safe movement pattern before advancing to the more challenging barbell and dumbbell leg lifts.

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