It’s not hard to get a glute-focused leg press: all you have to do is learn where to put your feet and how to master your form. Get these down, and you’ll be rocking solid, firm glutes that will not only look better but also increase your athletic performance and decrease your risk of injury.
If you’re like me, leg day makes you hate everything. But in a good way.
After you’re done, you feel accomplished–but you’re just mad at the world during the exercise.
And there’s no exercise that makes me angrier during–yet more impressed with myself after– than the leg press.
This exercise–though it summons my deepest rage–is actually amazing because, in my opinion, it works your legs like no other move. What’s great about the leg press is that you can actually switch up the positioning of your feet and the form of your reps to bias specific muscles, such as your quads, hamstrings, calves…or–you guessed it–your glutes!
What are Leg Presses for Glutes?
A leg press is typically performed on a leg press machine. There are many types, and we’ll cover those later. For now, let’s start with the basics of a leg press. For most leg press motions, you will:
Push weight with your legs: Regardless of the type of machine you use, you’ll extend your legs until your knees are straight in order to perform a leg press. This extension and pushing motion will be where you feel it in your glutes the most.
Slowly lower the weight and return to the starting position: You’ll return to the starting position by slowly lowering the weight back down, bending your knees as you do so.
Bias the glutes: When it comes to leg presses for the glutes, there are simple positioning techniques that’ll fire up those glutes and maximize your leg press stances.
Why Should I Use Leg Presses for Glutes?
We’ve all seen the Instagram and TikTok videos that show glute exercises trending for women. But to be honest: glute exercises as a trend just for women is a bit of a misconception. All people should work their glutes because glutes are an integral part of our bodies, and getting a toned butt isn’t just great for anyone’s appearance; it’s pivotal for overall health.
What are Glutes?
The simple answer: your butt. But, believe it or not, there’s a lot more to your rear end than meets the eye. What we refer to as “glutes” are actually a muscle group comprised of three different gluteal muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. When you perform a glute-focused leg press, you primarily target your gluteus maximus muscles.
What is the gluteus maximus?
If no other reason persuades you to work out your glutes, let this one be it: your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body. So, if we step away from the cultural expectation for women to work out this muscle, it makes so much sense for all people to exercise the largest muscle in their bodies!
What does the gluteus maximus do?
- Hip Extensor: The gluteus maximus works as a hip extensor, meaning it enables us to stand, walk, run, and climb.
- Stability & Balance: Adding tons of support to our bodies, the gluteus maximus enables us to keep our balance during motions like squats or lateral shifts in weight.
Why should I work out my gluteus maximus with leg presses for glutes?
- Wanna be faster? Your gluteus maximus literally gives you the thrusting force to generate speed and greater agility.
- Wanna stand taller? Working your glutes can also help improve your posture by naturally strengthening your posterior chain.
- Wanna be stronger? If you have a job where you sit all day, your glutes actually tend to weaken with extended sitting. By prioritizing these muscles with leg presses for glutes (or another glute exercise), you’re preventing your day job from literally kicking you in the butt!
- Wanna protect your lower back? By stabilizing your pelvis and assisting with posture during dynamic movements, the gluteus maximus is key to protecting your lower back and maintaining proper spine alignment.
- Wanna give that booty a lift? No matter your gender, adding muscle to your glutes will help improve the aesthetics of your behind by toning your muscles, and preventing sag or flab–giving your largest muscle in the body a tighter, stronger appearance. You’ll be sure to turn some heads.
Best Machines for Glute-Focused Leg Presses
Now that you feel confident that working your glutes is a great life choice, let’s dive into the best leg presses for glutes! Today, we’ll just focus on the two most popular leg press machines you’ll see at your local gym. I’ll show you the benefits of each machine and how to use form and position to maximize the glute bias of these exercises–plus where to put your feet! (Read more about 4 Incredible Glute Machines to Discover at Your Gym for Unbelievable Glute Transformation.)
45-Degree Leg Press for Glutes
This is perhaps the most popular of the leg press machines and my personal favorite. For this machine, you’ll sit in a seat low to the ground–facing a platform for your feet–above you at a 45-degree angle.
Typically, this machine will have a place for you to load weight plates. You should also find a built-in safety lock, which will allow you to lift the weight initially with your legs and then lock the machine in place when you are done with the reps. If this safety lock is not apparent or easy to use, just ask a gym staff member or your personal trainer to show you.
How to Use a 45-Degree Leg Press for Glutes:
- Load the desired weight onto the machine.
- Sit in the seat, placing your feet flat on the platform above you.
- Push up on the platform with your feet, releasing the safety lock as you do so.
- Brace your core, and pull your butt back against the back of the seat to ensure good form and prevent lower back damage. All of the exertion should come from your legs.
- Slowly lower the weight, bending your knees. At the end of the motion, your knees should be in front of your face, and your legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Push the weight back up to the starting position, and repeat.
Benefits of a 45-Degree Leg Press for Glutes:
Range of motion: You’ll get an extensive range of motion due to the 45-angle on this one.
Muscle engagement: The angle also naturally uses gravity to ensure muscle engagement. As you use this machine, you’ll feel right away that there’s really no cheating against your leg muscles working to their fullest here–as long as you keep your butt against the seat, preventing your lower back from engaging.
45-Degree Leg Press for Glutes - Form, Position, and Where to Put Feet:
Regular Leg Press for Glutes:
Regular position means that your feet are shoulder-width apart, placed directly in the middle of the leg press platform. Regular foot positioning is a great option if you're trying to target all areas of your lower body, as it will hit your hamstrings, glutes, and quads with equal ferocity.
High Feet Leg Press for Glutes:
Shift those feet just a bit higher on the platform, and you’ll ignite your glutes for a super glute-focused leg press. Your feet should go up to the top of the platform without any part of your shoes hanging off of the platform. With this position, you’ll also hit the hamstrings in the process.
Wide Feet Leg Press for Glutes:
Back to the middle of the platform, move your feet out wider than shoulder-width apart. For this leg press glute position, you’ll need a ton of flexibility because it’ll work your hip flexors as well as your hamstrings and glutes.
Horizontal Seated Leg Press for Glutes
How to Use a Horizontal Seated Leg Press for Glutes:
- Load the desired weight onto the machine. Sometimes, these machines are pin-loaded.
- This time, the platform will be in front of you rather than above you. Sit in the seat, and place your feet on the platform in the desired position.
- Push out on the platform with your feet, releasing the safety lock as you do so.
- Just like the 45-degree angle machine, brace your core, and pull your butt back against the back of the seat to ensure good form and prevent lower back damage. All of the exertion should come from your legs.
- Slowly return the weight, bending your knees. Then repeat.
Benefits of a Horizontal Seated Leg Press for Glutes:
This machine positions you to push parallel to the floor, which will feel generally easier than the 45-degree leg press machine. Because you’re in a natural, comfy seated position, you really minimize stress on the lower back. This is a great workout for beginners who are just learning form for this reason!
One downside is it won’t engage as many muscles as the 45-degree leg press, such as your stabilizing muscles. Also, because you’re seated in a normal position, this machine won’t allow you to target the legs in the same way since you’ll be distributing some of the weight-pushing to other parts of your body.
Horizontal Seated Leg Press for Glutes - Form, Position, and Where to Put Feet:
For this leg press machine, the foot positions for activating your glutes will be exactly the same as the 45-degree angle: Regular Leg Press, High Feet, and Wide Feet!
Leg Press for Glutes - Single-Leg Variation:
Another great way to get a glute-focused leg press is to use the single-leg variation of the leg press.
How to Perform a Single-Leg Leg Press for Glutes:
- Use a lighter mount of weight than you would for both feet.
- Set up just as you would for a regular leg press–both feet on the platform. This helps you assume a normal stance.
- Push up with both feet, releasing the safety.
- Then, move one leg off the platform–while allowing the other to complete reps just like a regular leg press–but this time on its own solo journey!
Benefits of a Single-Leg Leg Press for Glutes:
When focusing on just one leg, you’ll really get that extra glute focus while also focusing in on any muscle imbalances you may have.
You’ll want to use a lighter weight than when performing this motion with both feet, but besides this, the instructions for a single-leg leg press for glutes are the same–just with one leg at a time!
Single-Leg Leg Press for Glutes - Form, Position, and Where to Put Feet:
For this one, you’ll most likely want to keep your foot in a regular position–shoulder width and in the middle of the platform. It’ll work your glutes without any special foot positioning.
Other Helpful Hints to Maximize Glute Activation During a Leg Press
Point your toes out: When you point your toes out, you’re externally rotating your hips, which will give you more glute activation. I recommend keeping your toes at a 45-60-degree angle.
Go deeper in your reps: Increasing your range of motion will also help you focus on those glutes! Don’t come down so far that your legs need to flare out or are uncomfortable–but try to increase the amount of hip extension by going deeper in your reps.
After All Those Leg Presses, Give Those Glutes Some Love!
So, you’ve taken my advice. Your glutes have been officially ignited through all those leg presses you added to your workout routine!
What better way to celebrate than to give those glutes some love for all the hard work they just put in! (Read more on upper glute workouts.)
It’s basically like getting an at-home massage for your booty. The QL Claw targets all those trigger points we feel in our glutes from sitting too much, poor posture, or just moving the wrong way.
There are 3 different levels of deep glute release when using the QL CLaw, and when you’re using the QL Claw, it’ll be a sigh of relief as you instantly feel your glute pain relieved!
If you don’t believe me, take it from Asher Weitzen, the surfing phenom, who says about his own personal experience with the QL Claw:
“...[M]y muscles within my glutes are typically hard to reach, and yet the Claw easily allowed me to massage and work through these muscles.” - Asher Weitzen
So, treat your glutes the way they deserve. Work them out hard using leg presses for glutes, so they can get strong, look so fine, and help fortify you against injury.
Then, take care of them at home with your own, at-home massage device: the QL Claw!
Now that you've read about the leg press for glutes, check out more Gluteus Maximus Workouts and also how to Hulk Up Your Hamstrings by Mastering the Lying Leg Curl!