Leg Press Foot Placement

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The Leg Press Foot Placement Machine can tell you which leg muscles to work out. The leg press is an important part of any program to strengthen the legs.

It is a great way to strengthen your legs without risking injury because it puts less pressure on your back.

Leg Press Foot Placement

The leg press is a great way to work on your quadriceps, and it can help you a lot as you try to make your legs stronger and bigger overall.

Even though it might look like a simple exercise, there are a lot of things that can change how your leg muscles are worked.

This article will show you how to move your feet around on a leg press to work different muscles and get the most out of it.

WHAT IS THE LEG PRESS?

You sit on a leg press machine with your back against a backrest. You use your feet to push a sled (platform) against resistance while your back is supported by the backrest.

A leg press machine’s sled can be loaded with plates or hooked up to a pulley system with a weight stack.

The leg press is a great exercise for building strength and muscle in the lower body, and it is generally thought to be safer than the squat or any other free weight leg exercise.

For some people, this is the best way to start building leg strength if free weights scare them or are hard for them to get to for other reasons. But for most lifters, it’s just a way to add more weight to their lower body workouts and focus on their legs.

Muscles Used In The Leg Press

leg press foot placement

The muscles used in the leg press are:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves

Before trying to put more focus on one muscle group over another, you should know how your muscles work when you do a leg press.

After lowering the carriage toward you, a few things need to happen for you to be able to push it back up to the top.

To get the carriage back to where it started, you must first straighten your knees. Your quadriceps do almost all of the work here, but your calves help out a little bit.

Second, your hips must move outward to counteract the bending that happens when the platform is brought closer to you. This is done with the help of your glutes and some of your hamstrings.

Leg Press Foot Placements

Let’s now discuss the 5 feet placements in more detail!

  • Regular Stance – Put your feet in the middle of the platform, shoulder-width apart. the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves are all used.
  • Narrow Stance – Stand in the middle of the platform with your feet a little closer together. Makes the quads stand out more.
  • Wide Stance – Stand in the middle of the platform with your feet farther apart than shoulder-width apart. focuses more on the buttocks and hamstrings.
  • High Stance – Stand on the platform with your feet shoulder-width apart. focuses more on the buttocks and hamstrings.
  • Low Stance –  Put your feet low on the platform, shoulder-width apart. The quads and calves get more attention.

You could also combine a narrow stance and a low stance to work your quads even more… or choose a high, wide stance to work the glutes and hamstrings even more.

But it wouldn’t make sense to combine the opposites, like a high stance and a narrow stance, because these foot positions are best for different muscle groups.

1. Regular Stance

leg press foot placement

The normal foot stance has your feet about shoulder-width apart in the middle of the platform.

Target Muscles

This position works your quadriceps the most, but it also works your glutes and hamstrings.

How To Do It

  • Step inside the leg press and put your feet right in the middle of the platform.
  • Shoulder-width apart or just outside of shoulder-width apart is how far apart your feet should be.
  • In this stance, your toes should be just a little bit spread out.
  • As you do reps, go as deep as you can while keeping your feet flat on the platform.
  • The ankles shouldn’t start to come up.

Pro Tip

To get the most out of your quads and glutes in terms of strength and growth, you’ll want to go as deep as possible on each rep. Don’t give up range of motion to carry more weight.

Drawback

Worrell and his colleagues did a study in 2001 that showed that the glutes are used the most at the end range of hip extension (when your hip joint is straight). When you lock out each rep of the leg press, your hip joints are still bent a fair amount.

Because of this, the leg press is probably not the best way to really work your glutes and hamstrings. Choose a different kind of deadlift instead.

In fact, a variation on the hip thrust would be best because your glutes will work hardest at the top against the weight of the barbell.

2.  Low On Platform

leg press foot placement

Target Muscles

Even though the leg press already works your quads, this position will work them even harder by letting your knees go further past your toes.

How To Do It

  • Step inside the leg press and place your feet so that your heels are almost hanging off the bottom platform.
  • Shoulder-width apart or just outside of shoulder-width apart is how far apart your feet should be.
  • In this stance, your toes should be just a little bit spread out.
  • As you do reps, go as deep as you can while keeping your feet flat on the platform.
  • If you can’t go all the way down without your heels coming up, you can either limit your range of motion or wear squat shoes.

Pro Tip

If you want your knees to move further ahead of your toes, your ankles will need to be more flexible than they are now.

In this case, you can wear a shoe with a high heel and a low heel. This is a good idea because it will help you get the knees-forward position you want without having to move your ankles more.

Drawback

For this stance to work your quads more, you’ll need to be able to move your ankles enough. Without this, you won’t be able to go as deep as you need to to get the most out of your quads.

If you have trouble with stiff ankles and don’t have squat shoes, spend more time during your warm-up doing ankle mobility drills.

Here’s a short video that shows you how to move your ankles better. Even though it’s for the squat, your increased flexibility will help you a lot with the leg press.

3.  High On Platform

leg press foot placement

With this stance, your feet are about shoulder-width apart and high up on the platform.

Target Muscles

Even though the leg press already works your glutes and hamstrings, this stance works them even more by making you extend your hips further.

How To Do It

  • Step inside the leg press and raise your feet so that your toes are almost hanging off the top edge of the platform.
  • Shoulder-width apart or just outside of shoulder-width apart is how far apart your feet should be.
  • In this stance, your toes should be just a little bit spread out.
  • As you do reps, go as deep as you can while keeping your feet flat on the platform.
  • Make sure your lower back doesn’t rise all the way off the backrest. If this happens, you may need to limit your range of motion.

Pro Tip

Changing where your feet are can help shift the focus to your back muscles, but you can also use mental cues to focus on the muscles you want to work.

When doing this variation of the leg press, think about “pushing through your heels” or keeping the weight “heavy in your heels.”

Reminding yourself of these cues as you do the exercise will help you remember that your knees shouldn’t move forward too much. This will keep the focus on your glutes and hamstrings.

Drawback

Even though this stance will work your glutes and hamstrings more than usual, it may also work your lumbar (lower back) muscles more than usual.

This happens because your hips are extending more, which means that your hip joints are bending more than they would be in a normal stance.

If your lower back is sensitive or you have a low back injury, this might not be the best place to put your foot.

4.  Narrow Stance

leg press foot placement

Your feet are in the middle of the platform, but they are only about hip-width apart.

Target Muscles

Even though the leg press already puts a lot of attention on your quadriceps, this stance will put even more attention on them.

How To Do It

  • Step inside the leg press and put your feet in the middle of the platform.
  • Feet shouldn’t be more than hip-width apart, or just a little bit more.
  • In this stance, your toes should be just a little bit spread out.
  • As you do reps, go as deep as you can while keeping your feet flat on the platform.
  • Each time, try to lower yourself until your thighs lightly touch your stomach.

Pro Tip

If you have a narrow stance, your range of motion for this exercise will be limited because your thighs will likely touch your stomach at the bottom.

But this makes it possible to use heavier weights. Don’t be afraid to add more weight to the leg press carriage because of this.

Drawback

Athletes with limited hip and ankle movement might have a hard time with this style of foot placement.

Either your heels will rise off the platform or your knees will cave in. You should avoid both of these positions at all costs.

Because there is a lot of internal rotation (turning in), people with stiff hips may need to switch to a different stance variation.

5.  Wide Stance

leg press foot placement

With this stance, your feet are much farther apart than shoulder-width apart on the platform.

Target Muscles

Even though the leg press works your glutes and hamstrings, this position will work them much more.

How To Do It

  • Step inside the leg press and put your feet in the middle of the platform.
  • Your feet should be about 1.5 times the width of your shoulders apart, and your feet should almost be hanging off the platform.
  • In this stance, the toes should be spread out a lot, up to 45 degrees.
  • As you do reps, use how flexible your inner thighs are to tell you when to stop. This will vary from person to person.
  • Try to get the tops of your thighs parallel to the floor over time (this would be parallel to the floor if you were performing a squat)

Pro Tip

Make sure to push your knees outwards with this wide foot placement variation. This is especially important when you’re going up, because it helps you keep a good leg press technique.

If you let your knees cave in, the force you put into the platform is no longer aligned directly with your knees. This causes a small but noticeable loss of power.

Drawback

One problem with a wide stance is that it requires a lot of flexibility in the muscles on the inside of the thighs. The adductors are the main muscles in the groin area. If they aren’t flexible, it will be hard to keep your knees out at the bottom of the leg press.

Also, lifters with an adductor injury or whose inner thigh muscles tend to strain might want to choose a different foot placement to lower their risk of getting hurt.

How To Take Leg Press Exercise – Video Review

TYPES OF LEG PRESS MACHINES

Leg presses come in two main types. So let’s talk about each…

1) Incline Loaded Leg Press Machine:

leg press foot placement

You sit at an angle on this leg press machine and push the sled up at a 45 angle. Only the sled moves, not the seat. For resistance, heavy plates will be put on the sled.

Leg press machines with plates can hold a lot of weight (between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds, depending on the machine). Keep in mind that the sled itself is also heavy, so if you are a beginner, try it first without any plates.

2) Cable Seated Leg Press Machine: 

leg press foot placement

When you use a cable leg press machine, you usually sit at an angle and push down. When you push your feet into the platform, it doesn’t move.

Instead, it’s the chair or seat that moves against the resistance. So, when you put your feet on the platform and push up, your legs stretch out and the chair moves up.

The resistance is made by a system of pulleys and cables that are connected to a weight stack. The weight stack moves up and down as you press.

Pulling and plugging the pin into different spots on the weight stack makes it easy to change the amount of resistance. Plate-loaded leg press machines can hold a lot more weight than cable leg press machines (i.e. just a few hundred pounds).

WHICH IS BETTER, A PLATE LOADED OR CABLE LEG PRESS MACHINE?

For serious lifters, the leg press with plates is the best option because you can load it up much more.

With the cable leg press, you can only work with a few hundred pounds at most, but with the plate-loaded leg press, you can work with small amounts of weight all the way up to huge amounts like 1,000 pounds or more.

You should also pay attention to the angle at which you press.

The 45-degree upward angle lets you work out your legs as a whole much better than the horizontal or upward angle of the cable leg press machine, which really only works the bottoms of your quads near the knee.

Now, it’s clear that the plate-loaded leg press machine is better all around, but the cable leg press machine does have its own benefits.

For one thing, the weight can be changed quickly, which can make for some tough drop sets. Also, you don’t have to worry too much about failing because the seat is moving, not the sled.

Leg Press Benefits And Pro Tips

Leg Press Benefits

  1. It’s better for the spine because it supports the back.
  2. You can lift more weight than when you do leg exercises with free weights.
  3. It works all the muscles in your legs at once.
  4. There are a lot of them, and most gyms have more than one.
  5. On one machine, you can work out your whole leg with a wide range of positions.
  6. It’s easy to make changes and gain weight.
  7. It can be done by people with less skill than barbell squats.
  8. Weight doesn’t fall off the machines because they have built-in safety features.

Leg Press Pro Tips

  1. Try barefoot leg press for better foot and lower leg engagement.
  2. On the other hand, squatting shoes help the ankles move better when doing the leg press.
  3. Don’t just stand in one place; move your feet around as you go through your program.
  4. You can do more than one kind of leg press in the same workout or program.
  5. With the leg press, you can keep going past failure with the help of a spotter (advanced).
  6. Most importantly, to avoid getting hurt, don’t make the mistakes below.

Leg Press Common Mistakes

leg press foot placement

▶ Lifting Heels

When you do a leg press, you should put your feet in a way that keeps the pressure on your heels.

If the ankles don’t move well or if you lift too much weight, the heels can lift off the plate.

Especially when lifting heavy weights, this can put stress on the tendons and ligaments in front of the knee.

Pay close attention to this when you place your foot low, because if you don’t have ankle mobility, this is when your heels will want to lift.

▶ Rounding Lower Back

When using the leg press, a common mistake is to lower the weight too far, which causes the hips and lower back to round and lift off the back support.

When you use heavy weights on the machine, this can be very bad for your lower back.

Engage your core, glutes, and lower back to keep your back firmly pressed into the seat.

Also, you should only lower the plate as far as you can safely press it back up to the starting position.

Watch out for this mistake, especially the one with the high foot placement.

▶ Locking Out Knees

Lastly, there is one more common mistake that beginners make when they use the leg press.

When our muscles get tired, we want to relieve the tension by locking out our knees, just like we do when we stand.

In the leg press, on the other hand, all of the force of those heavy weights is pushed straight toward the knee.

It’s important to keep the muscles tight, which is the whole point of the exercise.

Don’t lock out your knees. Instead, straighten your legs as far as you can without locking out your knees.

Alternatives To Leg Press

If you can’t add a leg press to your routine for some reason, there are many other things you can do.

The classic squat, with of its many variations used to add resistance, is another compound leg exercise that has a similar effect.

You can also use the hack squat, the Smith machine squat, or the V-squat machine to work your legs.

There are, of course, also a lot of exercises that work the leg muscles in different ways or on their own.

Some of the many options are lunges, deadlifts, leg extensions, hamstring curls, and calf raises.

The Bottom Line

The leg press is a great exercise for making your legs stronger and more muscular.

You can also put more emphasis on certain muscle groups by changing where your feet are on the plate.

When you put together your next workout plan, choose the leg press foot position variation of your choice and let the gains fly.

FAQs – Leg Press Foot Placement

FAQs - Leg Press Foot Placement

A high foot position makes it easier to move the hips when doing a leg press and puts less pressure on the knee joints. Because of this, you’ll feel a greater stretch and a heavier load on your glutes and hamstrings. This is important for athletes who mostly use their quadriceps.
Instead of being raised, your bottom should be flat against the seat. At the knees, your legs should make an angle of about 90 degrees. If your feet are too high on the plate, it will put pressure on your glutes. If your feet are too low, it will put extra pressure on your knees.
Slower reps are the way to go if you want to build muscle quickly, whether you’ve been working out for years or are just starting out. When you do slow reps, your muscles are under tension for a much longer time than when you do fast reps.

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Disclaimer: Leg Press Foot Placement  information above is for estimate only. The data has been gathered from various sources Like online, on-site, and/or via phone.

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