Leg Press Machine: The Pros and Cons

Leg Press Machine: The Pros and Cons

What is Leg Press?

The leg press is a very old school weight training exercise to build bigger legs and gain strength. This exercise is performed on a leg press machine, which is also known as a just leg press. It is done by pushing the weights or resistance away from the body using legs.

The leg press can be used to determine the overall lower body strength of an athlete. Often this exercise is looked down upon by the gym-goers as it does not provide better results when compared to back squats. There is no doubt that the back squat is an excellent lower-body exercise, but that does not lessen leg press’s benefits. 

The leg machines are very effective when it comes to training the targeted muscle part due to its fixed movement. Also, a leg machine is good for beginners to learn the movement and gain confidence before they try free-weight squats. 

Types of Leg Press Machines?

There are mainly two types:

  1. Seated leg press or cable type leg press: The user sits upright with bent legs and pushes the weight with the help of his feet, that are planted on to a plate attached to the weights by a long steel cable. The weight is adjusted by inserting a pin in a weight stack in this.
  2. A sled type vertical leg press: The movement remains the same in this, but a user has to sit down below the sled and press the plate situated in front of his head. Plates are attached to the sled, which is mounted on rails. This leg machine typically has an adjustable safety feature, which prevents the user from injury. Often these types of machines can be converted into a hack machine too making them a perfect hack squat substitute.

Both of these variants can help you achieve bigger legs if appropriately used. These are often termed as a squat press machine. Have you heard a word, smith machine leg press? Yes, a smith machine can also be used to train legs by doing squats and vertical leg presses by pushing the smith machine barbell loaded with plates.

These leg press machines and squat machines are very effective for men and women who want to achieve bigger and stronger legs. You can buy these leg machines at local gym equipment stores, or else you can buy a leg press machine online on e-commerce websites.

A leg press can isolate the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstring, and calves. The amazing benefit is that this exercise does not put the strain on the knees and spine. No matter if you are a pro or just a beginner, you can always train your legs on the leg machines.

How to grow bigger legs? 

There are no shortcuts when it comes to making serious gains in your legs. You must adopt the right training regime for the lower body. Legs are the base and include the biggest muscles in the whole body. For speed, coordination, balance, and other athletic abilities, we need strong knees, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Along with free weight or smith machine squats, the best leg extension and best leg curl machine will help you out.

How to buy a leg press machine for sale?

There are lots of cheap leg press machines with the best quality components out there in the market. You can check a leg press machine price online before you buy it. Below is a list of leg press weight machines you can buy.

  • Leg press
  • Hack squat machine
  • Leg press machines
  • Leg press hack squat

How to Do Leg Press Correctly?

A leg press stimulates the glutes, hamstrings, and quads with just a short range of motion. Here is how you can get the best out of it:

  • Place the feet shoulder-width apart on the pad.
  • Point your toes a bit outwards.
  • To stimulate the glutes more, position the feet high and wide on the pad.
  • If you want to emphasize the quads, place the feet on the bottom and slightly less than shoulder-width.
  • Push the weights and release the leg press safety handles.
  • Inhale while the negative movement and exhale, or also you can hold the breath while pushing the weight.
  • Make sure you are firmly set against the seat to ensure there is no strain on the lower back.
  • Do not lock the knees, as it can cause serious injuries.
  • After completing the desired sets, make sure you lock the handles first before getting out of the leg press machine.

Leg Press Pros and Cons           


  • It is a very safe exercise for a beginner to avoid injuries and learn the movement before going to lift the free weight barbell and dumbbells.
  • It is a very excellent leg machine for the isolation of a specific muscle such as quads, glutes, and hamstring. 
  • You can lift really heavy with limiting the injury chances. Ronnie Coleman, a pro bodybuilder and eight times Mr. Olympia, has lifted nearly 2,300 pounds in his peak.


  • These machines do not activate the stabilizing muscles, which can lead to muscular imbalance and also injury prone body if not combined with free weight exercises.
  • No matter how heavy you lift, but it won’t stimulate the supporting muscles of the knees, ankles, and hips.
  • If you are training for athleticism, this machine or exercise is useless as this has a fixed movement and no functional movements.

You can use a leg machine for the assistance work, but if you want to build massive legs or gain strength, you must have a proper lower body training plan.

Leg Press vs. Squats, which is better? 

leg press vs squats

Both these exercises can help you develop the legs completely. While squats are a compound movement, that means that it works your whole body, not just legs, on the other hand, a leg press will only stimulate the lower body part. There are several factors below, you can decide yourself after reading the points.

Do Squat If:

  • Your goal is to gain more strength or power.

If you need to gain more strength for your sports or general purposes, you must choose squats over leg press. Some studies show that squat can activate the core and posterior chain more, resulting in more speed, strength, power, and several other factors.

  • You want to be huge.

Listen to any pro bodybuilder from the golden era of Arnold schwarzenegger or the modern era of Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler, they all recommend squats to get huge. As it is a compound exercise, which means while squats, your whole body is working.

  • You want to get an iron core and six-pack abs:

While squats, your core works double-time to maintain an upright posture and stability, which means an increase in the core strength. A compound exercise like squats can help you achieve six-packs in no time.

            Do Leg Press If:

  • You are a beginner or not strong enough to squat.

As a barbell back squat demands more strength and skill levels, and if you are a beginner, you can work your way through leg press first.

  • You need assistance working the legs.

You can add volume to your workouts with preventing the injuries. Just 4-5 sets on a leg machine after squats can work as a miracle for you. Good luck with sitting on the toilet pot the next day.

  • You need to pump those legs.

Some people train their legs very hard with squats the first day and then just pump blood with leg presses the next day. This is a very crucial experiment if it works for you; it will result in bigger legs in no time.


Whatever is your goal, maybe to get stronger or get bigger legs, a leg press combined with other lower-body exercises will help. A strict diet and dedication are the key to achieve bigger legs and gain more strength. If you want to grow bigger legs or want to increase strength and power for the sports, you can always contact me on my mail id, and i will be glad to share my experience. If you have any advice or question, please write in the comment box.

Manoj Datic