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Vertical Leg Press vs. Leg Press

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Vertical Leg Press vs. Leg Press
What's the difference? Photo Credit: Minerva Studio/iStock/GettyImages

When you want to use a machine to build muscle in your quads and glutes, it's not easy to know which is best. The leg press can be done in a number of different ways; however, they're all fairly similar and work the same muscles.

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Therefore, you only need to choose one of the versions — the horizontal or the vertical, plus the 45-degree leg press — to achieve your goal.

The leg press targets main target muscles are the quadriceps in the thighs and the gluteus maximus in the buttocks. The hamstrings, which are also in the thigh, are secondarily targeted. Varying the angle of the legs changes the emphasis placed upon the muscles.

Read more: Muscles Involved in a Leg Press

Horizontal Vs. Vertical

Also referred to as the seated leg press, the horizontal leg press requires you to sit in a chair and press your legs against a plate, which is attached to a weight stack by a long cable. In a neutral position, keep the knees bent. When you straighten the legs, you press against the plate and pull the weights.

The vertical leg press is similar to the horizontal leg press, except your back should sit against the floor with your legs positioned straight up into the air. The body is bent midsection at a 90-degree angle, and your legs are pressed up against a plate that faces downward. The weight is on top, and straightening the knees presses the weight upward.

The vertical leg press is similar to the horizontal leg press, except your back should sit against the floor with your legs positioned straight up into the air.
The vertical leg press is similar to the horizontal leg press, except your back should sit against the floor with your legs positioned straight up into the air. Photo Credit: Ibrakovic/iStock/GettyImages

45-Degree Leg Press

Not interested in a horizontal or vertical press? Try the 45-degree angle leg press by sitting in an incline sled and pressing outward with the legs. This is also sometimes known as a vertical leg press, although the legs are positioned halfway between the vertical and horizontal presses.

Read more: How Much Weight for a Beginner on a Leg Press?

Risk of Injury

The risk of injury compared to other leg exercises is significantly reduced in the 45-degree and vertical leg press, where the burden is assumed by the legs and the back is in a stabilizing position.

In the vertical leg press, the body movement isn't actually working directly against gravity, despite the upward mobility of the weights, so there isn't an additional strenuous pressure upon the legs. However, the horizontal leg press is not necessarily a risky move if done with proper form.

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