What Is A Vertical Leg Press Machine?
A vertical leg press machine is a piece of workout equipment that trains the lower body and focuses mostly on the hamstrings and glutes. However, it is versatile as it can also train the calves and stimulate the thighs by stretching unique muscles that other machines are not able to reach.
This machine is used by lying on your back with your feet in the air. That might sound uncomfortable but most if not, all vertical leg press machines have a backrest that can be adjusted.
You can also adjust the platform that you push with your feet by changing its angle, this allows you to access specific muscle groups and change the difficulty.
How To Use It?
Vertical leg press machines do not have much of a learning curve and are easy to learn how to use but to avoid any injuries you have to make sure that you are in the correct position and using the right technique.
It’s as simple as resting your hips against the platform underneath the weights and as you push the weight up with your feet that are shoulder-width apart, engaging your stomach muscles and bending your knees until they are flexed past the chest to achieve that full range of motion.
To push the weight back up, push through your heels and keep your feet flat against the platform and push until it is back in the starting position. You can extend your knees but do not lock them as this takes the pressure off of the muscles and onto the joints.
It is important to keep your back supported as it takes all the weight from the leg press exercise, so make sure it stays flat as well as the buttocks against the rest and does not engage as you press the weights.
If you already have back, shoulder, or neck problems, you can still use the vertical leg press as long as you stay in the correct position.
There are different variations you can use with your leg press that can switch up your workout routine and engage new muscles, and they are easy to learn.
Placing your feet wider than your shoulders will target the inner thigh and the quads which is similar to a sumo squat. To target the outer thigh and quads, place your feet narrower than your shoulders.
If you want to target the hamstrings, you can place your feet higher up on the footplate which allows your legs to go further down before touching the torso, giving your muscles a better stretch especially at the back of the thighs. To target the quads, simply place your feet lower down on the footplate.
By changing the direction of where your feet are pointing you can target specific parts of your calves. If you point your feet inwards, it will engage your outer calves and if you point them outwards it will engage the inner calves but be careful that you are not creating a V-shape with your knees when you do this as it can put pressure on them.
It is best to change these variations around every few weeks so that you are sure to not miss out on any muscle group.
Another important part of using the leg press is using the correct weights. Some say that you should start by lifting 50% of your body weight before increasing it to 70% as weeks go by.
However, that should be used as a vague guide and not as a rule because it is recommended to start with a weight that you find easy to push.
Then you can use this as a warmup exercise for a few minutes and once you have done this and feel comfortable, you can add more weight that is heavier by 30 pounds each time.
Try to do three reps then rest for two before adding another 30 pounds to the weight. Continue this until you reach a weight that you find is too difficult but keep in mind that this does not mean that this is the weight you should use in order to progress.
The correct weight should make you feel a good amount of resistance and tension without making the leg press stiff. If your legs are moving smoothly then you have found the correct weight to be using before adding any more.
Another benefit of this machine is that you can use it on your own without needing a spotter which makes them one of the safest machines in the gym. There is also a catch on the leg press that stops the machine at a distance to prevent any accidents.
The leg press is also great for weight loss as it builds muscle in the lower body which then needs energy from calories to repair and make stronger.
A leg press is also a great exercise machine for aspiring runners because it makes you faster by strengthening the same muscles in your legs that you use for running and therefore use more force.
As well as running, it also improves your jump which gives you a good advantage when competing in basketball or netball.
If you are less inclined towards running and instead are hoping to become a weightlifter then you will not want to miss out on a session with the leg press because it will give you the ability to lift heavier weights.
This is because it makes your legs stronger which is an important factor when lifting weights.
You can also improve your balance with a leg press because it builds the muscles that you walk on every day and if these are stronger then they can support you better and since you use two legs at once when using a leg press, the muscle is built evenly on each side.
OUR TOP PICK
You can’t make many mistakes with this vertical leg press because it has an ergonomic design that lets you lie on your back correctly as you lift directly from your hips. It is also designed to make it easier for you to apply even pressure as you lift which allows you to get the best out of every session.
This machine will last many workout sessions and will stand by you through your fitness and muscle-building process because the 94-pound frame is made from heavy-duty material that you can put all of your strength on without fear of it breaking or shaking.
The way that it is designed makes it quite compact and portable, it only takes up about 13 square feet which makes it a good candidate as a new addition to an at-home gym or garage.
It has comfortable pads and straps that are adjustable and high-quality steel parts that gives it a long lifespan and the ability to perform well consistently.
Comfort plays a big part in the design of this leg press, as it has an angled, thick backrest and headrest and the footplate can be adjusted to accommodate your height. There are also hand grips that you can use to keep stable as you push the footplate up. It has a dual post design that features four starting height adjustments, a non-slip diamond-plated footplate, and three weight plate horns that are compatible with Olympic-sized weight plates.
Due to its design features, it can be a bit tricky to assemble it for the first time and does not come with instructions but you can find a copy of them on the internet which will help you step by step.
- Comfortable design – you can adjust to suit your height and the head and backrest are thick
- Can hold Olympic-sized weight plates – great for those who are serious about training
- Sturdy – has a solid frame and can take a lot of weight
- No instructions – it does not come with a guide on how to assemble the machine
This is another vertical leg press with a heavy-duty steel tube frame and therefore is very reliable and durable.
The footplate is oversized which gives you the space to try a range of foot positions to target different muscles and eight heavy-duty rollers give it a smooth and gentle motion as you push it. These rollers also make it much quieter so you can use the leg press in the house without disturbing anyone.
This leg press keeps you comfortable by keeping your back supported with 3-inch padding with firm stitching on the back support and the carriage can be moved all the way down to the back pad to enable a full leg extension.
These features allow you to adjust it to accommodate your height and still get a full range of motion.
You can also use this leg press for calf raises where you use your calves to push the toes forward to push the footplate. This should only be attempted by those who are experienced with practicing the proper technique on a vertical leg press.
Doing calf raises can increase your vertical jump, improve ankle stability and overall balance.
- Heavy-duty steel frame – has a 1000-pound capacity and is very durable
- Eight rollers – makes the movement smooth and quiet
- Large footplate – accommodates various foot sizes and placement to target different muscles
- No instructions – does not come with instructions on how to assemble it so you have to find them online if you are struggling
This leg press is small enough to fit nicely in your home or garage but is also very sturdy.
It is made from alloy steel with a powder coating that makes it more resistant to scratching, chipping, and fading so your leg press will look as good as new for years to come.
Even though it weighs only 77 pounds, the leg press has a 400 pounds weight capacity and is perfect for both men and women.
Since it is vertical and small, it can fit in a four-by-four space, this makes it more flexible with where you can put it and also means you can put it away in a cupboard or corner of the room when not in use.
This vertical leg press machine is also very versatile as it has three weight posts that are distributed evenly for you to adjust to your height and get the most out of your workout sessions and has features such as adapter sleeves, standard plates, and even Olympic plates which all come in variations of sizes.
It is advised when you are using Olympic plates to put the adapter sleeves around the plate posts for a secure fit. It also has a non-slip diamond footplate, dual steel locking pins, and three different starting and stopping positions.
It has an extra-thick back support and contoured head and neck rest that holds you in the proper position which is important when avoiding muscle strain and injury when you use a leg press.
- Small – it is easy to fit inside a home and does not look too imposing
- Additional features – comes with various sizes of plates including Olympic ones and adapter sleeves
- Hand grips – it does not have any handgrips, and this can make you feel unstable and risk injury if you are a beginner
Best Upright Vertical Leg Press Machines Buyer's Guide
Vertical, Horizontal, or 45 Degrees
There are several things you need to consider before buying a vertical leg press machine.
First of all, are you sure you want a vertical one or would you be more comfortable in a horizontal or 45 degree one?
The horizontal leg press is the most common because it lets you sit parallel to the floor as you use it and this makes it easier for a lot of people.
This position can make you feel more secure as it’s quite natural and if you are just starting out on a leg press, it’s less likely to be outside of your comfort zone. This helps you focus more on working the lower body as intended rather than worrying about losing your form and hurting yourself.
However, if you are not careful you can forget how to sit properly, and your head could fall to the side, or your back could arch without you realizing which can do more damage than good during your workout.
Another difference is that the weights are not always placed in front of you, sometimes they are behind you or underneath you.
The leg press that sits at 45 degrees is quite similar to the horizontal one, but it goes your legs a wider range of motion. The angle at which you sit at is comfortable and it gives you the option to use more weight.
When you use this leg press it is important to remember to keep your hips on the platform and your back straight as this is a common mistake that people make when they are using it.
However, it gives you the best of both worlds between the horizontal leg press and the vertical one as it gives your legs more of a workout but is not as taxing on the body as the vertical one.
If you want a leg press that will give you more of a workout and make your quads and hamstrings work extra hard then a vertical leg press will do just that as well as keep your back supported.
If you are taller than average, then you will want to get a vertical leg press that can accommodate this. Some have more adjustments than others and some done have any adjustments at all.
If you are shorter than average, then you will also have to pay attention to the height range that the vertical leg press you are interested in has.
The height on the leg press is usually adjusted by moving the footplate on notches to make it lower or higher.
If you get a leg press that does not accommodate your height, then you are not only getting much less out of your workout, but you also put yourself at risk of injury. Therefore, it is worth finding one that does.
Do you have a lot of free space in your home? If your answer is yes then you could go for one of the vertical leg presses that weigh up to 200 pounds and take up a fair bit of floor space.
If your answer is no then you should get one that is smaller so that it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the room and can be tucked away when not in use.
Having good back support is very important when you are using a vertical leg press because all of the weight comes down onto your back, so it has to feel comfortable and supported. Some leg presses have a headrest as well as a backrest that has thick padding which is ideal.
When you are working out frequently or training you want to be able to progress so you can get stronger and improve your fitness.
If you cannot add more weight onto your leg press, then all you can do is maintain which may be what some people want but if you want to go that extra bit further then make sure that the leg press has a good weight capacity such as those that can reach 1000 pounds.
Another bonus is if it comes with its own plates as this can be a good way to save money.
Having a heavy-duty frame will be able to take the strain of heavy weights without bending or wobbling which will make them heavier than other leg presses on the market but if you value weight training over portability then you it is a good option to go for.
Most vertical leg press frames are made out of alloy steel which is the best for stability and durability. You can also get leg presses that have a powder coating on them which prevents scratches, chips, and fading which can be a great feature for those who have their leg press in the garage with sharp objects around that can cause some damage in passing.
It is best to get a leg press that has a large footplate since this lets you change the positions of your feet so that you can target different groups of muscles and change the difficulty of your workout.
If you have bigger than average feet, then having a big footplate will accommodate your foot size so that you can keep them straight and in the correct position. It also makes working out more comfortable and distributes your weight more evenly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Leg Presses Good for Abs?
Since the leg press focuses on your lower body, you will not see much difference in your abs. However, by using the leg press you will be burning calories which in turn can result in weight loss that can make your abs look more defined since there is less fat on them.
If you want to target your lower body as well as your abs, then squats are a good option because they engage more muscles than a leg press would.
However, you will have to do more squats in order to make up for the lost muscle-building capabilities that the leg press has.
How Often Should I Leg Press?
After a good leg press routine, your legs should feel pretty exhausted which is a good sign that you have sufficiently exercised the muscles and they will begin to repair themselves. To give these muscles a break to get stronger, it is advised to not use the leg press more than four times a week.
However, if you use the leg press at least twice a week and are consistent then you will be on a steady trajectory of improvement with your fitness and muscle strength. This is a guide, and you should alter this depending on the intensity of your sessions.
Are Vertical Leg Presses Safe?
Yes, they are safe, if you are using them correctly. You do not need a spotter when you use a leg press because they are one of the safer exercise machines as the weight does not fall on you if you are not holding it up or collapse beneath it.
The frames used for vertical leg presses are heavy-duty and sturdy and there are usually handles that you can hold onto to help keep you in the right position. They also have back and head support with comfortable padding to keep you comfortable.
If you lock your legs as they extend then it can result in damage to your knee joints and if you do not keep a straight back then you can damage your spine. Despite this, a leg press is easy to get the hang of and you will realize how safe it is compared to other exercise machines.
Are Vertical Leg Presses Better Than Squats?
Since most of the body moves when you do squats, it is engaging muscles from all around the body such as the hips and abs which the leg press cannot.
Squats can also help strengthen your core which gives you a good advantage in other exercises as most of them involve your core. Your posture can also be improved when doing squats because you have to be aware of keeping your back straight.
There are some disadvantages too such as the risk of back injury if you do not keep it in the right position, risking injury to your knees, and the fact that you need a spotter if you are squatting with barbells can be an inconvenience.
The area in which a leg press has advantages over squats is that you can focus on just your leg muscles because the rest of your body is supported and disengaged.
A leg press also works your quads more than squats do because the range of motion is less than with a squat. You also do not need a spotter when you use a leg press.
However, with both leg presses and squats, you can add variations to them to work different muscles and if you like to do both you can alternate between them to get the best of both worlds.