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How to Do the Leg Press

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Updated May 19, 2014

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How to Do the Leg Press -- Positioning the Body
Starting position for the leg press

Starting position for the leg press

(c) Paul Rogers

Two types of leg press machine are in common use: the standard horizontal leg press and the 45 degree leg press. This second leg-press machine has a seat in which the body reclines at an angle and the leg press is in an upward diagonal direction using a sled mechanism.

This description uses the standard seated leg press machine. You may need a trainer to show you how to adjust the machine for your first exercise.

As for all exercises, don’t lift too heavy to begin with and stop if pain is felt. Remember to breathe during the effort phase; don’t hold the breath.

Muscles worked: quadriceps and hamstrings of the thigh, gluteus (butt).

Body Position

  • Sit on the machine with your back and head against the padded support.

  • Place feet on the foot plate about hip width apart, ensuring the heels are flat. The legs should form an angle of about 90 degrees at the knee with a little variation either way as long as the heels sit flat on the plate.

  • The knees should be in line with the feet and neither bowed inward nor outward.

  • Your bottom should not be raised from the seat platform. If it is, and the legs are at too sharp an angle, then you need to adjust the seat back until the correct position is enabled. You can recognize this poor position when the knees seem to be in front of your eyes and you feel cramped.

  • Grasp the assist handles.
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