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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
October 04, 2023
Regardless if you hate it or love it, leg day is one of the most important parts of a workout routine. The legs are the trunk of our bodies, providing the foundation for our mobility, posture, and a balanced physique.
Besides the compound movements of squats and deadlifts, the leg press is one of the best exercises for building leg muscle. Although it can be large, a leg press machine is a gym staple and an excellent investment for an at-home gym.
So, how much does a leg press weigh? In this article, we will find out the leg press machine's weight and the best ways to use these machines.
Table Of Contents
A leg press is a strength-building exercise performed on the leg press machine designed to target the lower body. A compound movement, it uses the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves to push weight away from the body.
Featuring a large, slightly reclined seat connected to a weight sled, the leg press machine sets you up to safely execute the movement. On it, the sled's platform for the feet is held up by two sliding rails that move as you press the weight, safety latching when you're done to ensure the machine doesn't crush your legs. The sled also features extended bars on each side, sometimes one in the middle, to load weight plates.
To leg press, sit with your back against the seat and feet shoulder-width apart, flat on the foot platform, knees bent at roughly 90 degrees. To start the movement, you push the platform and sled diagonally away from the body until the legs are fully extended. Then, slowly lower the legs towards the chest, ideally past the starting position, and repeat the cycle for repetitions.
As mentioned above, leg pressing primarily targets the quadriceps, with the hamstrings, glutes, and calves supporting the movement. This variability means that people use the leg press for all aspects of fitness, including building muscle, increasing strength, rehabilitating injury, burning calories, or increasing endurance.
There are different types of leg press machines for different exercises, fitness levels, and goals. However, the standard leg press machine is often called the 45-degree linear leg press or plate-loaded leg press, where you can alter foot placement to emphasize one body part over another.
Other common variations found in gyms include:
For this article, we are measuring the starting weight, which is the minimum weight resistance of the machine without any weight loaded.
Most leg press machines weigh between 90 and 180 lbs by themselves, but thanks to variance in brands, machines, and angles, calculating how much weight you are lifting can be challenging.
For example, pushing something on an angle is much easier than straight upward. The angle from a standard 45-degree leg press machine reduces the force our muscles require by roughly 30%. Therefore, we are truly lifting only around 70% of the actual weight.
Regardless, let's take a look at the sled weight of common options:
Standard leg press machines found across gyms worldwide usually have an average starting weight of 125 lbs (57 kg), although some can exceed 200 lbs. Remember, we only lift around 70% of that, meaning an average starting weight of roughly 88 lbs.
Some of the popular brands and their weights are:
Another staple in most gyms, the seated leg press machine has a very light initial load weight, typically around 20 lbs.
While the cables attached provide additional resistance, the primary weight comes from the pin-loaded weight stack attached. These weight stacks usually reach 250-400 lbs, so they are not ideal for heavy-weight training.
As an example, the Pro Select Seated Leg Press and Calf Raise Machine can hold 441 lbs (200 kg) of total weight with a 210 lb weight stack.
The hack squat is a common leg press variation because it involves the same motion with the legs, but the body is in a different position.
Since it is a similar angle as the leg press, you lift roughly 70% of the total load. The hack squat carriage is slightly lighter than standard, with an average leg press weight of roughly 80-110 lbs. Although the carriage is lighter, you have to consider you are also lifting your body weight, whereas in a seated press, you aren't.
Here are some common brands and their weights:
The pivot leg press is very similar to the standard leg press, except the platform has lever arms that rotate around a pivot point rather than rails to guide the sled.
Pivot leg presses create a more natural pathway for the leg press. Unfortunately, the manufacturer's specifications aren't included, so we don't know the exact starting sled weight, but it is estimated to be roughly 5 to 30 lbs.
Compact machines are designed to be as small as possible, making them ideal for home gyms.
Weight equipment can weigh several hundred pounds and take up large areas of space, so finding the perfect size equipment is essential. The average compact leg press machine weighs around 200 lbs, with a starting weight of around 25-35 lbs.
Common brands and their weights:
The vertical leg press is unique because it is the only type in which you push 100% of the weight without any mechanical advantage.
You are only lifting the top carriage plus whatever weight is loaded, so there isn't much of a starting weight. The average weight bar for a vertical press is around 15-20 lbs. These machines are relatively light compared to others, with the entire unit weighing around 100 lbs on average. This type of leg press can put severe stress on the lower back, so be cautious not to overload it.
Options and weights include:
One of the best pieces of equipment for an at-home gym is a hack squat and leg press combo machine.
The starting weight for hack squat/leg press combo machines is similar to regular hack squat machines, ranging from 70-100 lbs, with an average starting weight of roughly 75 lbs. You can do more weight on the leg press portion because hack squats also involve lifting your body weight.
Take a look at the variance between these brands as an example:
For a more in-depth breakdown of the different leg press machines, check out our article 7 Different Types Of Leg Press Machines.
Just like the starting weight and targeted muscles vary by machine, the method you use them also varies.
Let's start with the easiest to use: the horizontal seated leg press.
As they usually only exceed 200-300 lbs, these leg presses are generally best for beginners. This is a good way to practice for a standard 45-degree leg press machine as the starting position is the same: back against the backrest, feet shoulder-width apart on the platform, with the only difference being the angle of the seat. Once you get comfortable here, many of these tips apply across the board to other leg press machines.
Here's how to use it:
Most trainers and experts suggest a rep range of 10-12 for four to five sets. Keep in mind we walk on our legs all day, so they are built for endurance. This is why higher volume is best for leg hypertrophy, so it is common for people to perform 15-20 reps each set. If max strength is your goal, hit some warm up sets and then aim for 5-8 working sets of 2-5 reps.
Some important tips to remember when using the leg press include:
For more information on using a leg press machine, check out our article 7 Leg Press Foot Placements and Muscles Worked.
These are some of the most common questions related to the leg press.
The average leg press for an adult male weight lifter is roughly 500 lbs for a one-rep max. Beginners should be able to do around 200 lbs.
The leg press machine provides structural support to the body so the leg muscles can press the weight, whereas a squat requires back strength, core strength, and balance, among other accessory muscles.
A common reason for a weak leg press is weak glutes and hip abductors. Other possible reasons include foot placement, bad form, such as not keeping your heels flat, rotating the feet, or collapsing the knees inward, and improper range of motion, either going down too far or not far enough.
Yes, the quads are the primary muscle group of leg press exercises. Secondary muscles include the hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
Yes! Be sure to keep the weight moving without stopping the movement, but go as slow and controlled as possible, especially on the downward portion of the lift.
The legs require significant volume to build, so most lifters agree that four or five sets of 10-12 repetitions to build strength and muscle. Feel free to do more reps, up to 15-20 per set.
While the squat and deadlift are often considered "superior", the leg press is an underrated lower body exercise for those looking to load up serious weight. But to pack on the pounds and hit a new PR, you first need to understand how much the sled weighs by itself.
The exact weight of the sled varies depending on the brand and machine, so it can be difficult to calculate. However, the average 45-degree leg press starting weight is around 125 lbs, while hack squat machines start at roughly 75 lbs.
Finally, if you're going to compare you squat PR with your best leg press, there are a few things to take into consideration.
First, the angle created by a 45-degree leg press machine creates a mechanical advantage compared to lifting straight up. Based on the angle, the true weight of a leg press is roughly 70% of the total., making actual average starting weight for a standard press machine is around 88 lbs rather than 125 lbs.
But arguably more importantly, the leg press adds a lot more stability to your lower body lifts. This global stability allows you to put a lot more force into the plate and put up some huge numbers. So, don't be surprised if your total leg press towers over your squat or deadlift - all three can build tree trunks for legs.
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