T Nation

Leg Press Question

I’ve got a question. I was reading in Polquin’s book that Step Up’s are a good hamstring excercise. Unfortunately my gym doesn’t have a good sturdy box to do them on. Will one legged leg presses with my foot positioned higher up on the platform work the hamstrings? It seems to me like the leg is going through the same range of motion as it would in step ups.


The leg press is a linear exercise. It is like comparing leg press to squat. It’s just not as effective. You will still see some results, just not as dramatic. Try an aerobic step or the back of a bench that has a spotters platform. Any platform will do. I have done them both ways you described. No comparison. The step up, using correct TUT is brutal.

Bodz, I saw your answer here and it really piqued my curiousity. My gym has a nice block for doing step-ups, and I’ve tried them but didn’t get ANY results whatsoever. Since it’s a CP recommendation, I figured that I simply wasn’t doing them right, but don’t know where the problem lies. I used TUT to the best of my ability (I find it hard to keep my balance on each and every rep), and weights up to 110% of my max squat. The block itself is about 8-9 inches high. Since it’s supposed to be a hamstring exercise, I went for fairly low-rep sets, usually in the 6-8 range. Any advice?

I use a flat bench. Its pretty high and tough but effective.

Chris, your step is too low. You need to get the heigth up to where your thigh is parallel to the ground. Also make sure you step up to it. Think of climbing stairs, you go forward, not up and down. In this case, you step up forward and step back down. The shakiness is normal till you build up the muscles of the lower leg including the ankle. I suggest doing what I call storks. It looks silly, but after you finish for the day, try and stand on one leg. The other leg hold, so your knee faces down, thigh is parallel and shin/calf is horizontal to ground. Stay in this position and watch the muscles of your ankle fire to keep in that position. Its amazing. Do this for a minute, then switch sides.

Bodz, thanks for the advice, man. I’ll give your recommendations a shot.

Using the one legged leg press in place of step ups is like replacing pull ups with lat pull downs. The hip flexors will be left out using the leg press. Machines make things easier. Lifting is one of the few areas that we don’t want things to be easier. The harder the exercise the better. My gym has one of those stupid deadlift machines. Useless.

How about One-legged stiff deadlifts, russian deadlifts, good mornings, reg.stiff deadlifts, and best of all box squats(I know, you don’t have a box) These exersices place much more emphisis(?) on your hamstrings than step-ups. But don’t take my word for it, try what bodz said first than try afew of my exersices and feel the difference in your HAMS—NOT QUADS

Logan, I agree that there are a lot of different exercises for hams. I don’t dispute that. We were discussing the step-up. I think all exercises have their place. We all change exercises every 3-4 weeks, so these are good for the rotation. While one may be superior for someone, it may not have the same effect on others. Good post on alternative exercises.