Every Leg Press Variation: Explained

Posted by Ryderwear HQ on

The leg press is a leg day staple for a good reason.

Perfect for powering your leg development, the leg press builds your quads, hamstring and glutes, without the added pressure on the spine and lower back that comes with the squat.

For lifters who love a leg day pump, there’s few things better than loading up the leg press and grinding through as many reps as possible until you collapse in a sweat-drenched, shaky-legged mess (you’re already kind of on the ground anyway).

There’s also plenty of subtle leg press variations you can use to load more of the resistance to a certain muscle group, which is why we’ve written a guide to every leg press variation you can use to level up leg day.

Best For: Overall leg development
The OG leg press position. The basic leg press stance is best for overall leg development, dividing tension evenly between your quads, hamstrings and glutes.

Best For: Adductors and inner quads
Positioning your feet further apart will move the tension to your inner quad, thigh and glute muscles, similar to a standard sumo squat. A wider stance often works better for lifters with long limbs.

Best For: Abductors and outer quads
By positioning your feet closer together, you’ll work the outer thigh muscles, and place more emphasis on the quads and remove tension on the hamstrings.

Best for: Glutes and hamstrings
Placing your feet higher up on the leg press removes tension on the quads, and activates the glutes and hamstrings with more hip extension and less knee flexion. A high feet leg press is a great alternative for exercises like deadlifts and hamstring curls, with less pressure on the lumbar spine.

Best For: Quads
Place your feet low on the leg press to shift the load to the quads, with less involvement from the glutes and hamstrings. A low feet stance is the best substitute for squats, with less hip extension and greater knee flexion. However if you suffer from knee pain, go easy on this one!


Kill two muscle groups with one machine. Use the leg press to hit these calf raise variations and turn your calves into bulls. 

The basic calf raise stance will divide the load evenly across your inner and outer calves.

Target the outer part of your calves (lateral head) by pointing your toes inward for maximal tension.

Target the medial head (or the inner part) of your calves by pointing your toes outward.