The best way to do the 45-degree leg press

Trifocus Fitness Academy - 45-degree leg press
Personal/Fitness Training Blog

Well-defined and robust quadriceps are a tell-tale sign of a conscientious athlete. In the bodybuilding community, large sweeping quads add to an aesthetically pleasing as well as balanced physique. Many of us start our leg workouts with a robust and compound barbell movement such as the back squat, deadlift or, alternatively, clean. As the workout progresses, so does volume increase. At the same time, the complexity of movements also decreases.

The 45-degree leg press machine is a phenomenal, compound, push exercise which targets the quadriceps in addition to the glutes. This plate-loaded piece of exercise apparatus can be found in even the most hardcore of gyms and utilises a lever or sled apparatus to hold onto the weight.


Sit in an angled 45-degree leg press machine. Place the feet shoulder-width apart in the centre of the footplate. Unhook the safety stoppers and support the weight with your legs.


Slowly lower the weight, bringing the knees to the chest but stopping when the knees are at a 90-degree angle. Pause of a moment before pushing through the heels to return the weight to your starting position. Repeat with the left leg. Perform how many reps necessary for the desired results.

Form tips for the 45-degree leg press

Avoid Half Reps

The 45-degree leg press provides a maximum benefit if is performed utilising full range-of-motion reps. Half or quarter reps put increased stress on the knees, supports poor movement patterns in addition to not providing as much stimulus to the target as well as supporting muscle groups.

Switch Up Your Stance

In order to emphasise glute involvement, adopt a wider stance and/or place your feet somewhat higher on the sled or platform. To accentuate quadriceps involvement, choose a narrower position and/or put your feet a bit lower on the sled or platform. Aim to do full range-of-motion reps with your knees pointing the same way as your toes.

Stay on the Padded Support

During the entire movement, don’t let your glutes and back leave the padded support. Coming off the padded support alters the movement pattern, lessens the range of motion of the rep, and does not provide as much stimulus to the target as well as supporting muscle groups.

Safety tips for the 45-degree leg press

  • Monitor the spine, pelvis, hip, ankle and knee motion
  • Cue glutes and quads
  • Spot the footplate
  • Keep the lower back flush with the bench

Biomechanical analysis for the 45-degree leg press

The 45-degree leg press is a movement of the lower body that takes place in a sagittal/media plane and mainly uses the muscles of the legs. The actions are concerned with using  multiple joints, namely:

  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Ankle

During the upward phase of the leg press, the hip (a ball and socket joint which is formed by the femur and hip girdle) there is extension brought about by the gluteus maximus, medius and Bicep Femoris muscles.

The knee, which is a hinge joint – that is formed from the tibia and femur rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and vastus intermedialis muscles – causes extension.  The ankle is a hinge joint which is formed by the tibia and calcaneus. There is plantar flexion which is brought about principally by the action of the gastrocnemius and soleus. The upward movement is a concentric muscle contraction.

During the downward phase, at the hip, the gluteus maximus and medius, as well as bicep femoris muscles, cause flexion. At the knee, the Rectus Femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and vastus inermedialis muscle cause flexion. At the ankle, there is dorsiflexion which is brought about principally by the action of the gastrocnemius and soleus. The downward movement is an eccentric muscle contraction.

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