In this article we will be looking at the foot placement for the leg press, and it’s muscle target and benefits.
The barbell squat is considered the best of all leg exercises, but the leg press is definitely next for beneficial strength and growth. The leg press is easy to load up and press but, where you place your feet is an important decision.
The majority of leg press allows you to place your feet high, low, wide, narrow, or any number of combinations in between. The choice of combination will change which muscles the leg press targets, making this exercise extremely versatile.
The leg press has its advantages, it increases leg strength and muscle definition. It’s stability to isolate the lower body and safety make it ideal for moving with heavy weights.
Anyone with lower back problems or hip/ knee issues should avoid the leg press. The position of the movement can put a lot of stress on the lumbar spine. Form is paramount, make sure you know how to safely use the press and how to use a correct seated posture.
People using the leg press tend to use it in only one particular way. But with anything you can tweak your exercise with different stances. The same principles apply to the leg press. Small changes in stance can impact more on specific leg muscles.
Standard Leg Press Foot Stance:
The standard way most people will do the leg press is with feet parallel in the middle of the platform, hip-width apart. You can activate the quads more by pushing with the balls of the feet or engage the glutes more by pushing through the heels. This concept applies for all leg-pushing exercises.
Sumo Leg Press Foot Stance:
By positioning the feel wide, with toes slightly flared out you can work more the abductors, inner hamstrings and inner quads. This works your inner thighs.
Duck Leg Press Foot Stance:
You’ll feel this more in your inner thighs and right up into the glutes but also in your vastus medialis oblique. The VMO is the outer quad muscle responsible for the tear-drop shape much desired by bodybuilders.
Narrow Stance High Platform:
In this stance you can engage more of the muscles of the back of the leg:
- the hamstrings
You can typically push a more weight in this position. But short people may find it difficult to stretch their legs all the way.
Narrow Stance Low Platform:
With feet together as low as you can go on the platform, this makes this move very quad dominant. Some prefer to keep their heels on the platform but you can hang your heel off, so that only the balls of the foot are in contact. From this position you can also do calve raises.
Single Leg Press:
For those with lower back concerns this is possibly the best and safest way to use the leg press machine as it keeps the pelvis in a more neutral position. Pushing with one leg at a time can aid with leg strength imbalances.This is an amazing glute workout. Push hard with the heel, to the point of the toes coming up. Start this exercise with no weights at all on the machine, it will likely be heavy enough. Have the other leg at the ready in case it’s too heavy.