4 Types of Leg Press Machines And Their Difference

Ask any fitness expert and they’ll tell you that you shouldn’t be skipping leg day. Even if you’re not an athlete, working on your legs can help you become more functional. Developing strong legs can help you climb up the stairs, lift things from the ground, and even improve your overall health. If you’re thinking of doing leg exercises, then you want to know the different types of leg press machines. Here, we’ll discuss different leg press machine variations and how each option can help you get closer to those ideal tree trunk legs.

There are different versions of the leg press machine that aim to train the quads and glutes: the standard 45-degree linear leg press, horizontal seated leg press, vertical leg press, and the dual-function leg press. However, keep in mind that no leg press machine is perfect. Looking at the leg press types, there are versions that require more flexibility while there are those that prioritize safety and injury prevention over putting your core muscles to work. 

WBCM Using 45 Degree Leg Press

Main Types of Leg Press Machines

If you’re planning to invest in a leg press or simply looking to use the one in your local gym, you might want to know more about the different leg press machine types. Nowadays, there are a lot of designs available in the market. Whether it’s a vertical, horizontal, or angled leg press, knowing the pros and cons of each design can help you in many ways during your leg day.

You can find a workaround on days when you have lower back injuries or on days when you want to push yourself and involve more stabilizer muscles during your leg day.

Standard 45-Degree Linear Leg Press Machine

The 45 degree leg press is probably the most common type of leg press machine that you’ll see in a gym. It is the type of leg press machine that can help build strong and defined quads and glutes. Even professional athletes and bodybuilders love using this type of leg press machine because it allows them a better range of motion compared to just doing traditional back squats.

To operate, you’ll have to load weights equally on both sides. Keep in mind that this type of machine could either be a pin-loaded or a plate-loaded version depending on the manufacturer’s design.

However, there are a few downsides to the 45 degree seated leg press. One, this might require more flexibility on the part of the user which makes it challenging for beginners. Also, the angle of the machine could put some stress on an already injured knee. That is also the reason why it is always important to have proper form when performing the leg press.

However, there is an interesting study that discovered squats produce more stress on the knees than the usual leg press. It means that if you have a knee injury, this machine might still be the better choice if given the choice between doing squats or leg press.

Rogue ISO Leg Press 35

If you’re looking for the best 45-degree seated leg press equipment, then the smart choice is the Rogue ISO Leg Press 35. This heavy-duty leg press machine can carry a whopping 2475 pounds. It has an adjustable lumbar seat and adjustable spring safety stops giving you peace of mind as you go heavy. It is made of high-quality steel, perfect for both beginners and advanced users.

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Horizontal Seated Leg Press Machine

Another popular variant of the leg press is the horizontal seated leg press machine. Now, there are two versions of the horizontal seated leg press.

The first version of the horizontal leg press machine comes with a seat that slides on its track. A common design of the horizontal leg press machine is where you're pushing the platform as you extend your legs. In this version, the seat remains in place while the platform moves forward and back.

Because of its horizontal design, it usually comes with a weight stack where you select the right resistance using a pin.

The difference between the 45-degree seated leg press equipment and this model is the direction in which you are pushing. In this version, you get to push parallel to the floor while a 45-degree seated leg press requires the user to push diagonally and at an incline position.

This is fairly common in commercial gyms simply because it is easiest to use compared to the other leg press models. The best thing about the horizontal seated leg press is that you are in a comfortable seated position, perfect for those that have spinal issues as it can significantly minimize stress on the lower back. But for those who want a more functional workout, this isn’t the leg press for you since it doesn’t engage stabilizing muscles.

Body-Solid ProClubLine Leg Press Machine

The Body-Solid ProClubLine Leg Press Machine comes as a good option for horizontal seated leg press equipment. It comes with a 210-pound weight stack, perfect for those who are only starting to build their leg strength. If you wish to make it a bit more challenging, we suggest that you do a single-leg press instead of using both legs on the platform.

Why should you step one instead of two legs? For one, 210 pounds isn’t much for some users. Also, there is a study that supports improved strength in both dominant and non-dominant legs if you perform single-leg exercises.

Aside from its durable steel frame design, you also get a comfortable seat with a DuraFrim back pad perfect for those with lower back issues. It also comes with 2 positions on its press plate accommodating different heights.

Using Horizontal Leg Press

Vertical Leg Press Machine

The next version of the leg press machine is the vertical leg press. Unlike the usual leg press where you push diagonally at 45 degrees, a vertical leg press is designed to get the user to push the weights straight up.

Because you lay flat on your back, it may not be as comfortable for those who are having back issues. However, it does a good job for targeting both the quads and glutes.

What makes it popular for a lot of users is the fact that it doesn’t consume a lot of space compared to other leg press versions. Since you don’t push at an angle, it requires less space making it a perfect pick for a lot of home gyms.

Now, what are the reasons why it is not as popular as other leg press designs? For one, it targets the quads, but with less emphasis on the glutes. Next, you can expect a difficult time scooting in and out of the machine since you will have to be flat on your back.

Titan Fitness Vertical Leg Press

If you’re looking to save space in your home gym or commercial gym, you might want to check the Titan Fitness Vertical Leg Press. It comes with a simple design that weighs only 94 pounds and could accommodate a total of 400 pounds. In addition to this, it is easy to assemble and it comes with safety features that prevent users from getting squashed while using the leg press. With a weight post measuring 50 mm in diameter, it means that it is compatible with both standard Olympic plates and even Bumper Plates. Olympic Plates have a center hole with a 50.8 mm diameter while the bumper plate comes with a snug fit with its slightly smaller center hole measuring 50.4 mm in diameter.

Dual-Function Leg Press Machine

Another space-saving leg press machine option is a Dual Function Leg Press Machine. It functions not just as a leg press machine but also as a hack squat machine. And if you want a complete lower leg workout, you can even do calf raises with this variant of the leg press.

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Looking at the different leg press machines, a dual-function leg press is an economical option since you don’t need to buy additional equipment just so you can do squats.

As for its design, you have padded parts in different areas of the Dual Function Leg Press. Since it functions both as a hack squat and a leg press machine, you have the leg press back pad, the squat back pad, and the shoulder pad. If you wish to be doing a leg press, you will have to treat it as your traditional 45-degree seated leg press machine. You will be pushing diagonally at a 45-degree angle targeting your glutes and quads.

Titan Fitness’ Leg Press Hack Squat Machine

To use the machine for squats, you will place your shoulders below the shoulder pad and perform a regular squat. Because of this design, it makes squats less strenuous given the cushion and the 45-degree angle at which the user is standing. If you're looking to engage your core muscles, this is likely the closest that you can get to a regular back squat.

The only downside to this type of leg press machine is that it puts more stress on the back especially when you’re doing hack squats. Even if you’re pushing yourself off the ground from an angle, you need to keep your core engaged to do the movement properly.

Performing Titan Fitness’ Leg Press Hack Squat Machine

Photo by @1bigimpact

If you’re planning to invest in one, Titan Fitness’ Leg Press Hack Squat Machine is a game-changer. It allows users to work on different muscle groups and perform different exercises. Not only do you get a leg press machine, you also get a piece of multi-functional exercise equipment for hack squats and calf raises.

Weighing 325 pounds, it comes with a durable construction that could accommodate up to 1,000 pounds of weight. And after you're done, it even comes with dual-weight plate storage holders to keep everything tidy in your gym.

As for plate compatibility, you can use Olympic weights and Bumper plates since the weight post diameter is 49 mm in diameter.

Using Dual-Function Leg Press Machine

Does The Type of Leg Press Machine You Use Matter?

So does the type of leg press machine matter? Short answer: yes. Not all leg press machines are the same. Each design comes with its pros and cons.

For one, there are versions that require more space than others. In addition to this, some leg press variations tend to engage the core muscles while others simply isolate the quads. For instance, if you’re going to compare the 45-degree to the seated leg press, the latter requires no engagement on your core whatsoever.

Another important aspect when it comes to choosing the right leg press machine is ergonomics. A lot of individuals dealing with back injuries stick with leg presses for the meantime instead of doing back squats. But before you load some plates into a leg press machine, keep in mind that the adjustability of the backrest is also a factor that can affect your comfort level when dealing with a back injury.

If you’re having back issues, the 45-degree version or the horizontal seated leg press are two of the most popular options for people who are dealing with an existing back injury.

FAQ

Does the Type of Leg Press Machine Matter?

Yes because it comes with different designs, therefore targeting different muscle groups. There are some leg press machines that are less strenuous to the back and knees.

Is Vertical Leg Press Better?

A vertical leg press allows you to work on your quads but doesn’t work the glutes that much. However, compared to other leg press machines, this version comes with a space-efficient design perfect for small home gyms. Whether it’s a better option or not, it depends on the user’s requirements and needs.

Conclusion

While all leg press machines help improve the quads and the glutes, there are subtle differences for each design. By knowing the peculiarities of each leg press machine, you can maximize your leg day and even work around your injuries. What do you think of these leg press machines? Let us know in the comment section below. 

Also read:

References:

  • Effects of Technique Variations on Knee Biomechanics During the Squat and Leg Press // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11528346/
  • The Benefit of a Single-Leg Strength Training Program // SageJournals: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/03635465000280042101
  • Optimizing Backrest Geometry to Minimize Interfacial Pressure Concentrations // NCBI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34864904/
  • Biomechanical Modeling for Understanding of Low Back Injuries // ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288144961
  • What Muscles Does the Leg Curl/Extension Machine Work? // Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/539351-what-muscles-does-the-leg-curl-extension-machine-work/


My name is Ihor and I have been a professional weightlifter since 1996. With over 20 years of competition experience, my resume includes European Champion in 2009 and the silver medalist at 2011's Senior World Championships – 105kg division.

I competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.

After hanging up my own competitive lifting shoes, I decided to share my huge background as a coach. I am currently coaching multiple athletes who are competing at national and international competiti

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