Are you tired of using the same old machines on leg day? Try the underappreciated vertical leg press! It’ll give your lower body muscles the ultimate workout and carry a lower risk of injury compared to other leg exercises.
The vertical leg press is a machine that you should pay attention to as it is starting to become a popular piece of gym equipment, but may not have hit your local gym yet. It is very popular among home gym owners due factors like cost and space saving size. It promotes the development of your legs by isolating the muscles and effectively engages your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Here’s all you need to know about this excellent machine and the benefits of getting and using one.
Vertical Leg Press Machine Overview
The Vertical Leg Press Machine facilitates a unique exercise position; you lie on a back pad, placing your feet on a footplate positioned directly above. This arrangement enables your legs to push straight up, allowing for excellent isolation of the quadriceps while providing robust back support.
The machine works by loading weight plates onto pegs located atop the footplate. This design lends itself to efficiency and safety, allowing users to exercise without needing a spotter. Unlike other bulky gym apparatus, the vertical leg press boasts a compact, space-efficient design, making it an excellent addition to home gyms.
Key muscles targeted during this exercise include the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. However, the nature of this vertical exercise means you aren't directly working against gravity, reducing undue pressure on the legs. This feature, coupled with the excellent back and neck support, make the vertical leg press a safe yet effective choice for those seeking to build leg strength and muscular definition."
How To Do A Vertical Leg Press (Step-by-Step Guide)
For vertical leg presses, you lie on a back pad and place your feet on a footplate directly above the back pad. You load the weight plates onto pegs that are directly on top of the footplate. This puts your legs straight up to isolate your quads and supports your back. This machine mimics the seated position but provides a refreshing variation.
Proper form is important during all kinds of strength training. Here's an overview of how to do the vertical leg press:
Lie on the back pad with your hips positioned directly under the footplate.
Then place your feet on the footplate. The foot position you use should be dictated by the different muscles you want to target for the exercise.
Push up with your legs to lift the weights, disengage the machine lock, and then grab the handles. This is your starting position.
Brace your core and then bend your knees to lower the weights. Do this slowly until your knees are flexed nearly, with your back still glued to the pad (avoid rounding your back).
Push up to extend your legs and return to starting position to complete the reps.
Repeat for as many reps as desired, maintaining correct form
Vertical Leg Press vs Leg Press
When choosing a leg press machine to work your quads and glutes, it can be hard to decide which works best. All leg presses are relatively similar and work the same muscles, so you’ll only need one for your workout. However, here's the how the unique design of the vertical leg press fairs against all different types of leg press machines.
Vertical Leg Press Vs. Horizontal Leg Press
The horizontal leg press is also known as the the seated leg press because it requires users to sit when using it. Once seated, you put your feet on a plate about 12-15 inches apart. The seated leg press machine usually has a weight stack built in and when you push the foot plate, you will engage the resistance of the weight stack. It's rare to find a plate loaded version of this machine. When doing horizontal leg presses, a neutral position should have your knees bent and your legs flat on the footplate.
The vertical leg press is similar to this machine but has your back against the floor with your legs up in the air. Your body is bent at a 90 degrees angle, and your legs are pressed against a plate facing downwards. Straightening your knees with a vertical leg press pushes the weight upward.
Vertical Leg Press Vs. 45-Degree Leg Press
The traditional 45-degree angle leg press exercise puts you on an incline where you press outwards with your legs. This machine sometimes called a vertical leg press, positions your legs between vertical and horizontal. With the 45-degrees leg press machines, you can easily keep your hips grounded and your back straight to do your leg press properly.
Note that the vertical leg press isn’t directly working against gravity. Even though the weights have upward mobility, there isn’t additional pressure on the legs, making it safe.
Benefits of Vertical Leg Press
The are many advantages of a vertical leg press machine. It is excellent for building strong and sturdy leg muscles. This machine isolates your quads in a way that will show changes. The quadriceps are some of the largest muscles in your body, and people can easily see when you work them (2).
Great for Home Gyms
Homeowners sometimes find it hard to get machines for their home gyms because of a lack of space. Equipment like the smith machine, leverage squat machine and even a horizontal press which you can use to build your legs, take up too much space. They also tend to be expensive.
The vertical leg press is one of the best leg press machines for home gyms. It is leg press variation that you can use to save space and cash. They come in smaller lengths, widths, and heights than any other type of leg press machine. A vertical leg press also has no moving parts outside of the frame of the machine. It’ll fit right into your room and won’t put too much of a dent in your pocket.
Complete Back and Neck Support
The vertical leg press offers wide neck and back support during your leg press. This is so important for people who are recovering from injuries. This machine’s padded support is recommended If you’re prone to back pain.
This is different for the horizontal and 45-degree leg press machines. Even when using the angled machine, you will engage a bit of your back muscles. With the vertical leg press, you can completely relax your back and use only your legs to push the load.
Safe for Solo Use
There’s no need for a spotter when using the vertical leg press machine. You can work out to your heart's content at the gym without feeling like you’re holding anybody up. Every vertical leg press has built in safeties that make easy to start and stop the exercise. Load up as much weight as you want and get to pressing!
It’s also great for people who want to get a leg press for their home gym. With the vertical leg press, you can work out at home alone without needing someone else to help. You can use the appropriate weight for beginners or your body and quickly rack it yourself.
Weight Load Ratio
If you’re using the leg press for the first time, starting with a light weight is always best. This will help you know your muscle strength; once you do, you can add more load for hypertrophy. For many people, the sled itself might be enough weight; it weighs about 20kg and above.
A safe rule to use when choosing weights is to go for about 50-75% of your body weight. This is in addition to the machine's weight, which depends on factors like the type of steel used. With time and more consistent use, you’ll notice that your leg strength is increasing, and you can increase your load too.
It’s important to note that if you experience sharp pain or discomfort after increasing the weight, you should reduce it immediately. Although using heavy weights can benefit muscle growth, it isn’t necessary. This study shows that the training volume increases muscle growth and hypertrophy in your quads, not weight (3).
Vertical Leg Press Benefits Conclusion
The vertical leg press machine promotes the development of the muscles in your legs, including the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Your adductor muscles, gastrocnemius, and calves are also recruited when using this machine.
Using the vertical leg press significantly isolates your quads. People with back pain will benefit from using this machine since it supports their neck and back. This machine and the exercise you do on it resemble the barbell squat but are easier to do, less technical, and place less stress on your spine.
Remember to try out this piece of equipment without any weights first to help you familiarize yourself before adding weights to it. Plus, you can switch your foot placement to focus on other parts of the leg muscles. A narrow stance will extensively work your quads, while positioning your feet wider will also greatly recruit the inner thigh muscles to a large extent. Either way, it’ll make an excellent addition to your home gym.
Nunes, J. P., Costa, B. D. V., Kassiano, W., Kunevaliki, G., Castro-E-Souza, P., Rodacki, A. L. F., Fortes, L. S., & Cyrino, E. S. (2020). Different Foot Positioning During Calf Training to Induce Portion-Specific Gastrocnemius Muscle Hypertrophy. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 34(8), 2347–2351. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000003674
El-Ansary, D., Marshall, C. J., Farragher, J., Annoni, R., Schwank, A., McFarlane, J., Bryant, A., Han, J., Webster, M., Zito, G., Parry, S., & Pranata, A. (2021). Architectural anatomy of the quadriceps and the relationship with muscle strength: An observational study utilising real-time ultrasound in healthy adults. Journal of anatomy, 239(4), 847–855. https://doi.org/10.1111/joa.13497
Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 51(1), 94–103. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764