Leg presses are a go-to for building muscles in your legs and buttocks. Specifically, the exercise develops your hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteus maximus, or glutes. Your glutes are large muscle groups that contribute to the shape of your buttocks.
Leg presses are effective, so expect some soreness after your workouts. If you are new to exercise, particularly strength training, or used a weight that's far heavier than usual, you'll likely be aching for the next few days.
Read more: Muscles Involved in a Leg Press
What Soreness Means
The dull pain you feel in your buttocks after performing leg presses might be due to delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. Exercise tears your muscle fibers. This stress, combined with the increased circulation and cell activity required to heal it, makes you feel achy and sore — so sitting may even be a challenge. Your body repairs the tears and adds extra muscle tissue, leaving you stronger than before your workout.
As the Hospital for Special Surgery explains, DOMS soreness usually begins eight to 10 hours after you work out and peaks at 24 to 48 hours after you exercise. If you're just starting an exercise program, chances are you'll experience significant post-workout soreness.
If the pain is severe and accompanied by redness or swelling, discuss your symptoms with your doctor to determine if you've torn or otherwise damaged a muscle. As the Mayo Clinic notes, the signs and symptoms of a muscle strain will vary, but can include the aforementioned redness and swelling, along with muscle spasms or weakness, limited range of motion, bruising and outright pain.
The Range of Soreness Symptoms
The pain in your buttocks might begin 12 to 48 hours after the workout that included leg presses. It might fade within the next day or last for a week. A massage soothes some people, but stretching won't ease the pain of sore muscles.
Even though the soreness makes you want to sit still, choose movement. A heavy lifting session with repeats of the leg press isn't the answer. But, walking, cycling or another light cardio movement that flushes out the muscles of your butt and legs is warranted.
Prevention and Treatment
The American Council on Exercise recommends allowing your body at least 48 hours between strength and power workouts, giving your muscles the time they need to rest and rebuild. Wait to perform the leg press until the soreness has mostly subsided. The key to minimizing post-workout soreness is regular moderate exercise.
Another key concept: Start with what you can handle now, and increase the intensity of your workout sessions gradually as your body adapts to the challenge. Start with light weights to ensure you don't overwork your muscles and allow adequate rest between workouts.
Before doing the leg presses, warm up with some light cardio and dynamic stretches such as leg swings or lunges. After your workout, lengthen your muscles with some static stretches. If you exercise regularly, incorporating leg presses and a wide variety of other exercises, your physique will develop. Eventually, only intense workouts will cause significant soreness.
Read more: Is the Leg Press a Good Machine to Use?
Expert Insight Helps
If you're new to exercise, hire a personal trainer to help you perfect your leg press form. Many varieties of the exercise exist, including standing and seated versions. Choosing a different form of leg press might help you get your workouts in without feeling as sore.
If you experience shooting or severe pain during your workout, stop immediately and talk to your doctor.
- American Council on Exercise: "Seated Leg Press"
- Hospital of Special Surgery: "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS): What Is It and How to Deal With It?"
- ExRx.net: "Sled 45 Degree Leg Press"
- American Council on Exercise: "How to Select the Right Rest Intervals and Post-Training Recovery for Your Clients"
- Mayo Clinic: "Muscle Strains"