Vertical Leg Press vs Horizontal Leg Press vs 45 Degree Leg Press

Which is better Horizontal Leg Press vs. Vertical Leg Press?

A long time argument with varying ideas thought out the bodybuilding ages, which is more superior for lower development? Leg Press or Vertical Leg Press?

The leg press exercise is a leg exercise that makes an individual pushes a weight away from his/her body using the legs.

Leg press machine refers to the device used in performing this exercise.

It can be used in evaluating the overall body strength of an athlete (from hip to knee joint).

However this exercise can inflict an injury to an individual.

If your knees are locked up during the exercise, your knees can bend in a wrong way, causing a painful sensation if you put in too much weight that your legs cannot properly handle.

Leg press is a great lower quadrant workout, which uses a machine that can help in building the quad muscles.

There are different kinds of leg press; however, they are similar in terms of the movements but could vary in the places it hits the muscle.

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Kinds of Leg Press

  • Horizontal Press

    It is also known as “seated press” in which it is performed while you’re seating in an upright position.

    Your feet are pushed against a board that is attached to a stacked weight through a steel cable.

    You should always keep your knees bent in a normal position.

    If you straighten your legs, you should press the plate in order to lift the weight.

a man is doing Horizontal Leg Press

  • Vertical Press

    It is an exercise similar to “horizontal press”, however, you should position your back on the floor while your legs are straight up in the air.

    You midsection should be at an angle of 90 degrees your legs should be pushed into a plate facing down.

    The weight should be on the top. Straightening your knees pushes the weights up.

a man is doing vertical leg press

  • 45 Degree Press

    It is another kind of leg press, but it is performed in an angle of 45 degrees.

    You are seated in an in the inclined sled and pushes outward using your legs.

    Sometimes it is known as “vertical press”, though your legs should be in the middle of the horizontal and vertical presses.

a man is doing 45 Degree Leg Press

You want to practice safely without injury. You must use STRAPS, WRAPS & SUPPORT.

Advantages of a Leg Press Machine

There are numerous types of machines and exercises that are used in building your hips and legs.

However, the machine for a leg press exercise or a “vertical press machine” are often seen and used.

While it does not work like the hack squat and angled press machine, there are some advantages in choosing the machine in strengthening and defining your muscles in the lower part of your body.

1/ The Right Moves

To get the advantages of the machine, you have to execute the vertical press in a correct way.

You should begin by resting your hips on a back pad underneath the weights.

Then set your feet on the platform then press upward for you to lift the weight.

Free the locks then grip the handles.

Slowly engage your stomach muscles and bend your knees until it is flexed all the way through.

In extending your legs you should push over your heels so that you can push the weights into its starting position.

2/ Muscle Isolation

The “vertical press” allows a variation of stance in targeting a specific muscle more intensively.

Narrow stance necessitates the solid use of your quadriceps while a stance that is wider will work on your thigh muscles.

The vertical press has the potential in working mainly on your gluteal muscle.

There is a significant use of your hip and leg on the machine than any standard squat.

Based on a study that is published today.

3/ Back Support

It is important to support the back because it receives all the force that comes from the weights during a leg press exercise.

It makes an ideal safety precaution for those who suffered and are recovering from back injuries.

Even in an angled press, there are still tendencies that your back will engage in lifting weights.

If you are in a horizontal position it makes your back more relaxed, it can even prevent back injuries.

4/ Safe for Solo Missions

Most of the exercises that are performed on a machine, the machine for leg presses are the safest machine because you can use it without the help of a spotter.

It allows you to workout alone without any disturbances or paying for a spotter in a gym.

In this machine, you can lift heavier weights and you can even add some weights while you’re working out.

What are the Benefits of a Leg Press Machine?

1/ Learning Curve

If your goal is to do a basic training or look good, the machine is an alternative option to perform a free weight squat.

With this machine, you won’t have to waste your time learning how to use it, it is very simple to use, just get yourself on a proper position then just press using your legs and that’s it.

2/ Muscle Emphasis

By doing different placements of your feet, it is very easy to highlight the muscles that the machine is working on.

If you take your feet on the board and just press it all the way through, you can feel that you’re glutes and hamstrings are slowly developing.

When you take your feet downwards, you can feel that you quadriceps are working out.

3/ Safety First

when you perform an exercise on the machine, mostly those that develop your lower body strength, it is that you fail on that exercise.

If you failed in doing an exercise it simply means that your muscles are on its limit, if you continue the exercise it may cause your muscles to tear and you wouldn’t want that happen.

Leg press has a catch where it limits the machine to an ideal distance that makes you feel comfortable.

4/ Working around Injuries

Leg press is a preferable option if you have a neck, back, and shoulder injury.

It gives little stress to your body which is good if you have that kind of injuries.

On the machine, you can develop leg muscles, it reduces the pressure on your body further while you are still working on your muscles.

Alternatives for a Leg Press Machine

This exercise primarily targets your muscles such as the hamstring and quadriceps, and it also helps in developing your gluteal muscles and hip flexors.

Finding an alternative exercise for leg press isn’t that difficult.

You can always use complex lifts to mobilize your legs and multiple joints.

1/ Parallel Squats

Performing a squat to a distance where your thighs become equal to the floor’s angle will develop the similar muscles, hamstring, and quadriceps.

The key to a successful squat exercise is to make sure that your hips should drop low plenty while you’re maintaining a vertical upper body and arched back.


2/ Leg lunges


Leg lunges activates the muscles that are utilized for leg presses, you should, however, bend your legs to an angle of 90 degrees and your thigh should be in the same angle as the floor.

Furthermore, your trail leg is needed to extend 180 degrees if possible.

When you are executing a lunge position, you should be sure that you won’t lean forward so that your knees won’t extend past your foot.

If you are to stand, drive your foot downwards and extend your bended knees.

You should keep looking forward while your back is arched throughout your movement.

3/ DeadLifts

Deadlifts activates the same muscles. You can encounter difficulties in getting on the starting position, however, it depends on how flexible you are.

Furthermore, it can be executed with the use of a trap bar, hex bar, and straight bar.

If you are in the initial position, your feet have to be in a narrower than the width of your shoulder and your thighs need to be in the same angle as the floor while your back is arched and your chest is extended.

Use a neutral, overhand, or underhand grip.

What Muscle does this exercise Target?

1/ Gluteals

Some exercises engage your gluteal muscles as a stabilizer.

It is the key muscle group located on your buttocks, the exercise engages them throughout the phase.

Pushing an enormous weight develops your muscles on you gluteals that can add the thickness of muscle in your gluteals that increases the boundary of the hips, furthermore, it can increase your body power in strength associated tasks.

2/ Quadriceps

It is the largest muscle that has four sections that form your front thighs and engages to lower or raise your body.

This muscle contributes to pressing your leg into the leg platform upward.

When performing the second step in lifting you will utilize the weight when it descends to its starting position.

3/ Hamstrings

This muscle stretches from your lower gluteal to your knees on your thighs, they deliver the majority of power used when running.

A strong hamstring decreases the time needed for activities, but its primary role is to prevent injuries and pulls.

4/ Calves

The workout engages your entire calf muscle.

The exercise tones the muscle and prevents injuries by creating muscular endurance, however, leg presses can’t help you in building noticeable mass in your calf muscle, even if you are pressing a numerous quantity of weights with a low quantity of reps.

Complete the first step by lifting your toe, flex your feet up in order to push through the platform more, and direct most of your stress in pressing your calf muscle.

Injuries that Might Occur

1/ Muscle Strain

It is a kind of injury that can occur if you use an extension machine constantly.
It is in the form of a muscle that has a huge tear.
Performing leg extension that has a high quantity of weights can tear or pull your quadriceps.
You should stop right away if you sense a discomfort when using an extension machine.
Not properly warming up can also cause muscular strain.
Warm-ups, like jogging or walking for about 10 minutes, can lessen the possibility of muscle strain.
It is mostly recommended by fitness instructors.

2/ Knee Cartilage

Overusing an extension machine can cause injury to your knee cartilage, and it is very painful.
Your knee cartilage serves as your own shock absorber, it supports your knees while jogging, running, walking, and skating.
Your knee cartilage keeps all of your movements smooth.
Overusing such a machine can result in breakage of cartilage and inflammation and the very first indicator is the sense of pain.
If you are to avoid an injury sub this exercise to other exercises such as leg press and lunges.

3/ Tendons

The patella tendon is the one that connects the kneecap to the shin.
Raising heavy loads can form a small tear of your tendon or it will become inflamed.
As you gain more strength, your tendons respond to it and it increases your tendons resistance loads.
In avoiding an injury, you should increase your tendons resistance regularly instead of adding some more weights in your strengthening session.


How to Prevent Injuries

1/ Proper Techniques

Performing the proper techniques in this exercise can lessen the chance of you having an injury.

When you are sitting on an extension machine, you should check the alignment of your knees and hips and it should be at an angle of 90 degrees.

There should be a back pad in order to support your back while lifting heavy weights.

Position the pad beyond your ankles, in that way your feet can move freely.

Hold onto the handles if you are to perform this exercise, and you should exhale while pointing your toe on the ceiling at the same time straightens your legs.

Keep your knees bent To release, you should inhale bit by bit then slowly push the weight on its starting position, however, you shouldn’t allow the plates to join till the final rep of your exercise is finished.

2/ Use a Full Range of Motion

Lessen the load by half and start by using a motion that is full range.

It will let you activate some more muscle, hamstrings and your glutes, in particular, it won’t even take you half an hour to unload and load the machine.

It can also dramatically and instantly reduce the risks of experiencing an injury through this exercise.

Similar to squat exercise, the perfect depth depends on the individual or athlete.

But preferably you would want to take your thighs similar to your belly or chest as you want without even lowering your back or your hips leaving the pad.

Generally, cut the distance at the position where your back would begin to round, then the stoppers should be set properly on the machine for safety.

3/ Employ Tempo Training

As an alternative to leg press, you should try executing the exercise slowly with a controlled tempo likely for higher repetition.

Doing a 2 minute set of workout will help on losing some unwanted weights for about 4 to 5 seconds, you should pause below for seconds, then try a push up to add tension stimulus.

You will get a much better result, and you will be more of a muscle minded person.

This training is really great for protecting your joints from any injury.

4/ Superset with Competitive Exercises

Comparing light exercises from heavy exercises is a great way to work on your muscles to improve your movement patterns.

Example, you can do around 20 squats then do a leg press immediately for more than 20 reps.

It will savagely burn unwanted fats on your body and your muscle pump are going to be impressive.

This kind of stack or superset can start the stimulation of muscle growth through metabolic stress when using a relatively lightweight that will save your joints from experiencing an injury or easily recover from it.


How to Determine the Ideal Weight for a Leg Press Exercise

  • The factor of Body Weight

    Lifting the weight that is similar to your weight determines on how heavy you should only lift.

    For women and men ages 20 to 30 the ideal weight is twice their body weights.
  • Trying out a Weight

    Another method includes resting for about two minutes then lift a 30 and 40 pounds weight.

    It is determined by how your body reacts to a certain weight.

    If your body can lift a 40-pound weight you can increase the weight until you determine the ideal weight for your body.


It is very important that if you are to work out with a leg press machine, you should learn the techniques on how to prevent injuries and maximizing the potential for muscular growth.

As hardcore bodybuilders would say squats will always be the king of lower body exercise especially when you want a total body development.

However, leg press has its own place for growing and refining those muscles.

So the back to the question, which is better with the different types of leg press machines?

I would answer this with varying situations, if you are just a fitness enthusiast that is looking for additional leg workout that opts to minimize knee pressure.

I would advise the horizontal leg press for you, not only its safer it seems to target more of the frontal quad area of the legs, giving the defined frontal development.

Now for a more serious lifter who wishes a larger development, vertical and angled leg press do hit the hamstring region more which produces the thick look of the legs.

But size development has many factors as to the genes, and your nutrition vertical type of leg press do let you push more poundage and could recruit more fibers of muscle for growth.

Hope I helped you with this tips! Now hit the weights and grow those leg muscles!!!