How Deep on Leg Presses?

Sounds a bit dumb but how deep should I go on the Leg Press?

The leg press is just a bit more quadricep work to help squat and sumo deadlift without the heavy loading up on my lower back. Is deeper better on the leg press for this purpose? I heard there’s like injury risk if you go too deep?

I’m not a huge fan, though I have used them in the past.

If you feel you need them, then use a slow eccentric (I tore a quad once by descending to fast with heavy weight) and only go as deep as you can maintain a neutral spine. Use a foot width and angle that permits the thighs to slide past the ribcage. Also avoid locking out the knees at the top (there are a few youtube videos of knee hyperextension injuries).

There is also a one leg version that Ed Coan used to use.

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That is the answer right there.

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I think leg pressing can be terrible on the lower back. It’s the reason I never do them. I personally think your lower back is safer on a squat, unless you reallllly limit your ROM on the leg press. Definitely don’t go as deep as you can, particularly if the weight is heavy.

If it’s available, I would use the hack squat machine and do leg extensions instead. I think those are both superior machines to the leg press, and aren’t accompanied by lower back stress.

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My reason for no longer using the leg press stems from the lack of transfer to the squat. Since I’ll raise some hackles, I’ll explain.

I feel that of the 3 lifts, the squat is the one which is less aided by dissimilar variations. IMO powerlifting squat assistance should be as similar in motor pattern to the main lift as possible. For example a box squat performed a la Matt Wenning is more transferrable than a front squat. I also feel that properly programmed, the squat assists the deadlift and vice versa with the exception that a lifter who squats wide would probably do well to CDL most of the year a la Coan.

Regarding the leg press, in the past, I was one of those who would regularly include the leg press as assistance. At the time I was leg pressing 720 for 2 sets of 15 rock bottom with knees hitting upper arms, after squatting. When I returned to comp. lifting I abandoned the leg press and didn’t see a difference at all.

Plenty of gym rats can leg press in the 500’s who cannot squat 315 properly.

Besides most trainees I have dealt with over the years have been weaker in the posterior chain, so why perform a movement which uses no hamstring, no back/core, and has minimal glute flexion/hip rotation?

going to have to join the darkside for something like this

How can it have no hamstring or glute work? Your knees need to extend and so do your hips, what extends your hips?

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Leg press hip ROM is like 45 degrees. It involves hip extension, but barely any.

In my experience it has to do with the particular machine. I’m not into leg pressing at all, I train in my basement, but in the past I have used a few leg press machines and some are OK while others will destroy your back. It seems like it has to do with the angle of the back rest/seat and the foot plate, if it’s not well designed then it is dangerous.

Hack squats are a good substitute if the leg press machine is shit.

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I don’t mind the leg press machines where you are lying flat on your back and just pushing your body away. Much easier to not stress the lower back!

Gets great ROM in a part of the hip extension that is pretty neglected in a lot of powerlifters and strongmen:

Leg Press

As you noted, it is a quad dominate movement.

It is a good Auxiliary Exercise for the Deadlift. Gene Bell, one of the great Deadlifter of his era, was ask it helped his Squat.

Bell replied, that if helped is Deadlift more so than his Squat.

Deadlift Quad Drive

Both the Conventional and Sumo Deadlift require quad drive.

In the Conventional Deadlift (Research Dr Tom McLaughlin) the drive off the floor is initiated with the back, then the quad fire. It is like a one-two combination in boxing.

The Sumo Deadlift is initiates the drive off the floor with the legs with assistance from the back.

Thus, increasing Quad Strength is vital for the Conventional and especially the Sumo Deadlift.

Deadlift Lift Leg Press Assistance Training

The Conventional and Sumo Deadlift are performed from a Quarter Squat Position. That means the most effective method of preforming the Leg Press for Deadlift Training is to preform them from the same Quarter Squat/Leg Press Position; this eliminate the back issue.

Conventional Deadlifters will increase quad drive for by performing Leg Press from the same medium to narrow width stance as their Deadlift.

Sumo Deadlifter will increase quad strength by performing the Leg Press from the same wide stance as their Deadlift. This isn’t usually possible since most Leg Press Platforms don’t have a wide platform.

However, narrow Quarter Leg Presses will help increase quad drive for Sumo Deadlifters.

Other Quad Dominate Deadlift Auxiliary Exercises

  1. Back Quarter Squats

  2. Front Quarter Squats

  3. One Leg Step Ups holding Dumbbells

  4. Hack Squat

Kenny Croxdale


Your hips don’t fully extend in the leg press.

bad link

Here’s an idea: you are going to do leg press for quad development, since that is all it is really good for anyway. Don’t worry so much about hip ROM or the distance the weight actually moves but rather knee flexion/extension since that is what you are trying to train here. If possible, find a foot placement that allows you to put your knees in full flexion (with zero back rounding of course), which basically means until your calves press against your hamstrings. This will probably mean having your feet at the bottom of the foot plate. If you can go further down by allowing more hip flexion you don’t necessarily need to, your quads will already be fully stretched by that point.