Leg Press for Athletes | Worst Exercise Ever? – Garage Strength

Leg Press for Athletes | Worst Exercise Ever?

There are multiple variations of the leg press. There is the old-school leg press that has you straight up and down that gives a dummy pump to the quads. Then there came the leg press which is on an angle that slides on the rails–which is pretty standard in commercial gyms. And there is now also the newer leg press that is more on a swing.

Sometimes you use the leg press to replace the squat (not a good idea). Sometimes you use the leg press to target the quads (a much better idea). Putting the feet low on the footplate and allowing nice dorsiflexion from the ankles allows the quads to be much more isolated. You can even raise your feet higher on the footplate and try to isolate the glutes with a little bit of hamstring. And then you can do quarter presses with too much weight and give the leg press a bad rap. 

leg press alternative

Having A Bad Rap

Many functional gurus tend to hate the leg press. Even sports performance coaches hate the leg press. Weightlifting coaches despise the leg press too, prescribing the squat as the only viable option. Ironically, the bodybuilding world sees the leg press for what it is: a tool to blow up small quads into bigger quads.

Your goal in resistance-based training is to accrue specific adaptations. The leg press is good to blow up the quads. It is extremely beneficial. 

Individuals who stink with plantar flexion when in a bent knee position can benefit from using a leg press. If you are a shot putter or discus thrower this means you. If you are a bodybuilder with small quads relative to their glutes, hamstrings, and/or upper body you need to be on the leg press and getting a ton of reps.

The leg press is also a great machine to get yourself mentally tough. You can begin to relate your mental being to your physical meeting. You probably have ten more reps in the tank. Get those 17 more reps.

It Can Happen

You can use the leg press and potentially find yourself having lower back pain, especially with the older models. The newer leg press models that swing are phenomenal. 


You want to begin by examining sports that have hip flexion and knee extension to signal using the leg press.

There is also the single-leg leg press. The single-leg leg press is a tremendous movement to find the differences between each leg. It is also paramount to know that when you are pressing in hip flexion with knee extension with a single leg is what happens when riding a bike.  

You also have accommodating resistance. Using a PowerLastic band wrapped around the machine as pictured below.

You can use the leg press with explosively accommodating resistance. At the top, the accommodating resistance is pretty heavy. Then as you lower the resistance lessens and it feels easier. Then to be explosive as possible upon the concentric, you press with extreme purpose. It is even to your benefit to rapid-fire reps like an engine piston. This can be done bilaterally or unilaterally. It will help your body learn how to produce a ton of power and also help target your quads at the lockout.

If you are anyone who focuses on speed, single-leg leg presses that are banded are great for improving your reactive ability.


85% of the time the leg press will be used as an accessory where the athlete is weak. In some instances, the leg press might even be used for absolute strength, like sprint cycling. In reality, it all comes back to the goals of real life. The leg press provides some sense of adaptation that can benefit you. 

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