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Leg Press Foot Placements – Will It Work For Different Muscles?

The leg press machine is a great substitute for more conventional leg exercises like lunges and squats, as it targets the muscles in the legs. ...

by Jessica Bennet

This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

The leg press machine is a great substitute for more conventional leg exercises like lunges and squats, as it targets the muscles in the legs. This machine is popular among people who want to strengthen and tone their lower body since it offers a safe and regulated environment for leg exercises. 

The intensity of the leg workouts can be increased by adjusting the foot position. The muscles worked during an activity can be influenced by foot positioning, which can also impact the success of the workout session. 

The Muscles Worked During Leg Press

The leg press engages muscles like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Leg Press Workout


The leg press exercise heavily recruits the quadriceps muscles, which are found at the front of the thigh. The feet’ position on the platform will determine the degree to which the quads are activated. The muscles are:

  • Rectus femoris
  • Vastus lateralis
  • Vastus medialis
  • Vastus intermedius

⚜ Hamstrings

Leg press exercises also involve muscles in the back of the thigh, particularly when the feet are positioned higher on the platform. The muscles involved include:

  • Semimembranosus
  • Semitendinosus
  • Biceps femoris: long head
  • Biceps femoris: short head 

⚜ Glutes

During the leg press exercise, the gluteal muscles in the buttocks are activated. Their performance increases when the feet are placed lower on the platform. The gluteal muscles involved in the exercise are:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteal medius
  • Gluteal minimus 


The leg press exercise can also train the calf muscles to some extent; however, they are not the main target. The calf muscles are:

  • Gastrocnemius
  • Soleus

Importance Of Foot Placement On The Leg Press

The foot placement on the leg press is important as it can impact the targeted muscles and the total effectiveness of the workout.

Changes In Muscle Emphasis

The leg press is a workout that emphasizes different lower body muscles depending on where the feet land. The quads, hamstrings, and glutes can be worked out in varying degrees depending on where the feet are placed on the platform.

Changes In Joint Angle

Foot placement can also affect the angle of the joints engaged in the leg press exercise. For example, adopting a broader stance may necessitate more glute muscle activity and put more strain on the hips.

The Range Of Motion May Be Increased Or Decreased

The exercise’s range of motion can also be affected by foot placement. The range of motion can be increased or decreased by positioning the feet higher or lower on the platform. 

Comfort And Safety Can Be Affected

Correct foot placement is necessary for the comfortable and safe use of the leg press. There is a greater chance of injury or discomfort, depending on the position of the foot. 

The Proper Leg Position On Leg Press

The foot placement on the leg press depends on the personal fitness objectives. Experimenting with different foot positions can help target different muscles and attain varying degrees of difficulty. It is critical to comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of each foot placement and to pay attention to the body’s cues regarding what feels most natural and comfortable. 

Different Leg Press Foot Placement Positions

There are 5 major leg press foot positions, and each position offers slightly different results based on the preference and body type of the person. 

Standard: Shoulder Width Foot Placement

Placing the feet shoulder-width apart in the dead center of the footplate and pointing your toes slightly outward is the standard foot location for the leg press. To target the entire leg muscles, many people adopt this posture, which is regarded as the default or starting position for the leg press.

To perform this placement correctly, the back should be pressed firmly against the seat, the knees should be in line with the toes, and the center on the leg press’ footplate.  

The target of the standard foot placement is the lower body, such as the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It helps evenly engage the lower body without isolating specific muscle groups more effectively than others.  


For beginners, the standard foot placement on the leg press is ideal since it offers a stable basis and is simple to perform. It also works well for people who want to target their entire leg muscles because it engages the hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps to some extent.

Also Read:- 10 Best Leg Machines – Enhance Your Journey To Tone Your Muscle

Wide: 1.5x-2x Shoulder Width Foot Placement

In wide foot placement, the feet are placed wider than shoulder width. It may often range from 1.5–2 times wider than the shoulders or as wide as the leg-foot plate will allow. This stance results in greater activation of the hamstrings, glutes, and adductor muscles as it allows an increased range of motion. To comfortably correspond with the wider hip placement, the wide foot stance should also be matched with a little more toe-angling outward.  

The primary targets of the wide-stance leg press are the hamstrings and glutes. It also leads to considerable activation of the quads and adductors. While all the muscles are engaged in some capacity with any leg press machine foot position, the wide stance works the glutes, hamstrings, and adductors a little bit more. 


The increased range of motion and muscle activation in the glutes and hamstrings are the major benefits of the wide foot placement. People who aim at targeting these muscles, like athletes and powerlifters, will be better beneficiaries of the wide-stance leg press.  

The other major foot placements include a high-stance leg press for building strength and size in the glutes and hamstrings, a low stance for deeper knee flexion leading to increased quadriceps activation, and a single-leg stance that isolates and targets specific muscle groups in the legs. 

Also Check:- What Is The Arnold Split? Ultimate Guide For Bodybuilders!


Practicing different leg press foot placements, like standard, wide, high, low, single, etc., will help to target various muscle groups in the legs and attain effective results. Each foot placement has its benefits and helps to gain different targets according to the person. Incorporating these positions will help maximize the results of the fitness journey.

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