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Ultimate Leg Press Workout Routine (How Many Sets and Reps?)

Are you tired of doing the same old leg press workout?

Do you want to use the leg press to make more leg progress strategically?

In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about using the leg press machine, including proper form, effective exercises, and an advanced workout routine to help you build strength and muscle mass in your legs.

Get ready to feel the burn!

Quick Leg Press Machine Workout Basics

The leg press machine is a popular piece of leg day.

The leg press targets muscles the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, making it a compound exercise that simultaneously works for multiple muscle groups.

Depending on the foot placement on the leg press footplate, you can emphasize different muscle groups more prominently. 

There are multiple types of leg press machines that you can try out as well, such as the leverage pivoting leg press, seated horizontal leg press, vertical leg press, and more!

Incorporating the leg press is highly beneficial and improves lower-body strength and muscle mass while being considered a safer exercise than other lower-body exercises, making it a good option for individuals with back or knee problems who need a lower-impact exercise.

Leg Press Better Than Squats?

The age-old question, is the leg press better than the squat, is best answered by saying no; they are just different. 

While both exercises are effective for building leg strength, the leg press can be better for training the legs in a certain way than the squat.

Additionally, the leg press can be safer at high volumes of weight or reps, which we will discuss shortly. 

How To Leg Press Basic Instructions

Using the leg press machine is quite simple. It can be explained in a few quick steps:

  1. Adjust the machine's resistance so it is appropriate for you!
  2. Adjust the seat if needed or possible, on the machine so it fits you nicely.
  3. Select the desired foot placement. Standard foot placement is shoulder width apart, middle of the way, and down the footplate.
  4. Release the safety handles and slowly lower the platform towards your body by bending your knees.
  5. Once your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, slowly push the platform away from your body by straightening your legs.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Top 3 Leg Press Workout Routines with Sets and Reps

Heavy Weight Leg Press Workout:

This workout focuses on heavy-weight and low reps to build leg strength and muscle mass. In this instance, you can replace a squat or a deadlift with this type of workout imitating a heavy compound lift.

Here's an example of a heavy-weight leg press workout:

  • Warm-up: 2-3 sets of 10 reps at 50% of your leg press
  • Working sets: 4 sets of 6 reps at 80-90% of your max weight
  • Rest between sets: about 2 minutes

If you do not know your max leg press weight, start warming up with the weight of your body. Workout your way up to a challenging weight to do 6 reps at, but you could complete 3 more sets of. 

Supplemental Leg Press Workout:

This workout uses the leg press as a supplemental exercise after a heavy compound exercise like squats or deadlifts. The goal is to target the leg muscles with a higher rep range to promote muscle growth and endurance.

Here's an example of a supplemental leg press workout:

  • Squats or deadlifts: 3-5 sets of 2-6 reps at 80-95% of your max weight
  • Leg press: 3-4 sets of 15 reps at a light to moderate weight
  • Rest between sets: 1 - 1.5 minutes

Getting your heavy sets in with the squats or deadlifts and going into some lighter leg press working sets at about 15 reps is an awesome way to keep pounding your legs after you're drained from heavy squats or deadlifts.

High Volume Leg Press Workout:

This workout focuses on extreme volume to burn out the leg muscles at the end of the workout. Here's an example of a high-volume leg press workout:

  • Beginning - middle of leg workout as normal
  • Leg press: 4-5 sets of 20 reps at a lightweight
  • Rest between sets: 1

Choose a weight that you can easily go slow and control with, but perform the movement 20 or more times, and your legs will burn like fire. 

7 Advanced Leg Press Techniques 

  1. Pause Reps: Pause reps involve holding the weight at the bottom of the movement for a few seconds before pushing it back up. This technique can help increase time under tension and promote muscle growth.

  2. One-Legged Leg Press: The one-legged leg press involves performing the exercise with one leg at a time. This technique can help improve balance and stability, as well as target each leg individually.

  3. Drop Sets: Drop sets involve performing multiple sets of the leg press at decreasing weights without rest between sets. This technique can help increase muscle endurance and burn out the leg muscles.

  4. Reverse Band Leg Press: The reverse band leg press involves using resistance bands to assist with the upward movement of the weight. This technique can help increase explosiveness and power in the legs.

  5. Isometric Holds: Isometric holds involve holding the weight in a static position for a set amount of time. This technique can help increase muscular strength and endurance and promote better mind-muscle connection.

  6. Super-Sets: Performing the leg press and going directly into another exercise immediately after is a popular advanced technique for combining rep ranges and different supplement exercises. For example, doing a set of the leg press, immediately hitting the quad extension machine, and then returning to the leg press.
  7. Varying Leg Press Foot Placement: If you want a slightly more advanced leg press workout, change the variation of foot placement that you use. Placing your feet more narrow or wide on the footplate can target various lower body muscles more prominently.


By understanding the basics of the leg press machine, such as the different types of machines and the muscles worked, individuals can incorporate it into their workout routines safely and effectively.

In addition, advanced leg press techniques can be used to challenge the muscles further and promote muscle growth and endurance.

When performing the leg press, it's important to maintain proper form, gradually increase weight and intensity over time, and listen to your body to avoid injury.

Incorporating the leg press into your workout routine can improve your lower body strength and help you achieve your fitness goals!

Researching leg press machines of your own? Visit our guide on the best leg press machine with all types of leg press machines from brands across the united states!

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About The Author

Matt Gemkow, the author of this content section at Select Fitness USA, boasts more than 15 years of fitness experience. He started out in sports and athletic training for many years and has since 2014 transitioned into heavy-weight training and bodybuilding. As a result, he has become one of the most experienced fitness equipment experts out there, and a valuable source of information.