Do you keep a workout log and want to track your weight progress in a leg press machine? If so, then you may be curious how much weight is on the leg press machine before adding weight to it.
Whether you want to try new workout equipment or prefer to save your back from discomfort when lifting weights, the leg press machine is a great tool to try. Read on to learn more about the leg press machine and the ideal weight for your goals.
Let’s get started!
Leg Press for Beginners
The leg press machine is the apparatus used to perform the leg press. Such an exercise helps build squat strength and evaluates a person’s overall lower body strength. The compound movement taxes the legs while supporting the back. It also recruits all major leg muscles – quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Leg Press Machine Benefits
- Less risk of injury than free weights (deadlifts, squats) as leg training eliminates the need for barbells and free weights.
- Helps overcome muscular imbalances (especially in the lower body)
- Promotes leg development
- Promotes a fixed pattern of movement (stable foundation for workouts)
- Promotes a sharper mind and stronger bones; Optimal bone density prevents degenerative musculoskeletal diseases linked with age, like osteoporosis.
- Enhances speed needed for running and jumping
- Increases strength for better vertical leap and spring speed
The leg press machine is best for beginners who want more endurance and strength in the lower body to do more advanced leg exercises later. It’s also best for people with back problems or weak knees as the pressure is more on the hamstrings and glutes.
So, How Much Weight Is on the Leg Press Machine Before You Add Weight to It?
It depends on the leg press machine design. But for the models you often find in commercial gyms, you should expect a standard leg press machine weighing around 34 kg./ 75lbs.
How much does a leg press machine weigh (by brand)
Other common leg press machines weigh 100 lb. (Star Traq), 118 lb. (Gold’s Gym), and 80 lb. (Hammer Strength and Legend Fitness).
Still, when people ask how much you leg press, the answer is usually the number/amount of plates – not the actual leg press weight. As long as you’re progressing in your workout, you’ll be fine.
Read Next: Best Folding Weight Bench with Leg Extension
Different Types of Leg Press Machines and Their Average Weights
1. Seated Upright Leg Press Machine – 20 lbs
Seated upright leg presses are often seen in the machine section in commercial gyms—this equipment loads the weight up on the machine and pushes it forward to press (plates) the importance.
The seated form of leg presses helps keep your torso and upper body still. As you push forward against the footplate, your seat will slightly raise or go backward because your seat is a part loaded with weight resistance.
2. Standard Leg Press/ 45- Degree Leg Press Machine – 75 lbs.
Most leg press machines come at a 45-degree angle. This leg press machine allows you to sit with your legs facing at about a 45-degree angle to press the weight upwards.
To do this workout safely, adjust the back pad from the beginning and sit in the machine keeping your head and back against the back support.
3. Vertical Leg Press Machine – 15 lbs.
The vertical leg press is the least common of all leg press machines. You won’t typically see these leg presses in local gyms. They are ideal for home use because they are lighter and smaller.
This leg press machine is designed to have you laying flat on the bench rest and your legs straight upwards at about a 90-degree angle. You press weight upwards too. This type of leg press is more likely to give you a big bum than other leg presses.
The vertical leg press machine can be a little disconcerting if you have never tried one before. So, begin with a lightweight and have a spotter to help out.
4. Hammer Strength Leg Press Machine – 118 lbs.
The hammer strength leg press machine allows the user to get total leg development safely. Since the machine is plate-loaded, you can overload weight and challenge your glutes, hamstrings, and quads in a more isolated way.
This leg press machine weighs around 118 lbs. and is as popular as the 45-degree leg press machine.
5. Hack Squat Leg Press Machine – 75 to 105 lbs.
The hack squat leg press machine is an upside-down leg press, wherein the shoulder or back pads are at the top while the foot platform is found at the bottom. The benefit of this type of machine is that your back stays upright during the workout.
Additionally, this position results in more knee bend and less hip bend, making it better to target quads.
This type of leg press is meant to replicate the motion and feeling of a hack squat. You begin this workout in a standing position with your feet up against the leg press. As you’re about to squat, move the handrails out and squat down. These machines have starting weights of 75lbs.
Why the Angle of the Leg Press Matter More Than the Weight
Most leg press machines have 45-degree angles, varying from model to model. Other leg press machines have a 90-degree angle. The flatter the leg press angle, the easier workout, and the heavier the leg press feels.
The reason is simple: you workout against gravity when you press upwards. On the other hand, you only have to overcome friction and inertia when your leg presses forward. The angle of the leg press allows you to load the equipment and cause stress to the legs. The leg press is likely equipment that will enable you to lift the most weight.
This is why experts typically recommend an angled leg press machine (normal) because it is more compact for home use and works your legs harder. But if you can’t use that kind of leg press machine for health reasons, then go for a horizontal leg press machine.
How to Do the Leg Press Safely
The two common concerns in leg press workouts are the lower back and the knees. And you can protect these parts of your body by ensuring your glutes are in contact with the seat when you’re at the bottom of your leg press.
Also, it helps when you maintain a slight bend in your knees at the top of your press while on a seated upright leg press.
Before starting your lower body workout, make sure your body form is correct. It’s best to test a few sets or reps without any weight. This step is necessary because different machines function differently due to weight differences.
Standard leg press machines, for instance, have an average sled weight of 75lbs. But other machines weigh 80-100lbs. The hammer strength leg press has a starting weight of around 54kg./119lbs.
Adjusting the back support angle
You can adjust most back pads on leg press machines – a benefit many fitness enthusiasts overlook. Making this small change to a part of the leg press will recruit several muscle groups in the legs.
So, lower the back support angle on your next leg day.
Lowering the back pad opens up the hips and allows you more mobility. This position also moves the focus away from the front quads and more on the glutes and hamstrings. Pushing the leg press plate away through your heels enhances the recruitment of the posterior chain muscles.
The hip angle is open with the back pad in a lower setting. As a result, your body creates a straight line at the peak of the movement, and you achieve more hip extension.
How much weight should I lift on a leg machine?
For beginners, start by pressing 50% of your body weight. Then, go up to 70% of your body weight after a few weeks. For example, if you weigh 179lbs, the ideal weight you should lift on a leg press is 89.5lbs, then move up to 125.3lbs.
What are some of the best leg press machines?
There are highly thought of and well-known leg press brands in the market today. Some include Body-Solid, Powerline, Valor Fitness, XS Sports, TDS Premier, XMark, Panatta, Yukon Fitness, and Powertec Fitness.
Standard foot placement
If you’re wondering where to put your feet on a leg press machine, it comes with different options. The standard foot placement is positioning your feet in the center of the footplate, your feet hip-width apart.
This foot placement offers overall development of the hamstrings, glutes, and quads and will not put emphasis on any particular muscle group. This stance is best for beginners to the leg press machine.
As you perform the leg press movement, maintain your feet flat on the platform all the time. Moreover, you should keep your knees as near as possible to your chest without rounding your back. Your head and back should remain flat to the back pad throughout the exercise.
Keep breathing during your effort phase. If you focus on inhaling on release and exhaling on exertion, your breathing will become automatic.
Frequency of workout and stretching
The average frequency of leg press is four sets, with about six to 10 reps in each set. Do this workout twice a week, giving at least one day of rest in between.
If you have never done any leg presses, begin modestly with three sets of 10-leg presses. Advance the frequency of the workout from there as you build your strength.
But should I stretch before or after a leg workout? Such is a common question in gyms relating to leg press, and the answer is after a workout. Try a brisk walk in the weight room to loosen joints.
Then, do a few quadriceps stretches and static lunges to ensure that your hamstrings, quadriceps, and knees are not too tight after the workout.
Weight increments for leg press
If you have knee pain, avoid using the leg press. Doing so may worsen the condition. Increase in small increments as well. Avoid adding more than 20% weight at a time.
One of the most significant factors in leg press is to ensure that you are not lifting more than you should. Reduce the weights if you cannot control the movements yet. Leg press needs to be performed with complete control by not allowing your legs to collapse at the end of the leg press movement or rushing through the workout.
Nevertheless, proper form is more important than the weight you lift.
Leg Press vs. Squat: Can You Do Both?
Both leg press and squat have their place and time in your training program, especially if you want to build strength and size. Some lifters prefer to do one over another, but there’s no need to do both exercises.
A 2016 study in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness even looked at the body composition results of the subjects using three different interventions: (1) a program using the leg press, (2) a program using the squat, and (3) a program using both workouts.
The result shows that there was no significant increase in the fat-free mass and body mass after all three weight training interventions. This result means you can use either the leg press, squat, or both exercises to increase the muscle.
However, don’t expect a reduction in body fat by doing both workouts. The leg press and squats work the quadriceps. Squat activates other muscle groups, including your back, hamstrings, core, and glutes.
So, opt for leg press if you want to isolate your quads. The hack squat leg press variant offers more leg pressing capabilities than other leg presses.
On the other hand, if your goal is to achieve functional strength, you can’t ditch the squat workout. The important takeaway when comparing these two workouts is that a high degree of technical expertise is needed to execute squats effectively and keep the joints safe.
And that concludes our leg press machine guide. We hope this article can help you maximize your time at the gym.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder, an Olympic weightlifter, a powerlifter, or anyone who wants to build lower body strength and size, the leg press should be your go-to exercise. Whatever leg press machine you choose, they all fundamentally offer you the chance to target your hamstrings, glutes, and quads effectively.
If you’re up for a challenge, change your foot positioning as it can work muscles differently. For instance, a narrower foot placement works the outer thigh muscles. Using a wider foot placement targets the inner thigh muscles.
So, good luck on your next leg day!
To read more about gym workouts, check our other reviews at ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.