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Vertical leg press machines allow you to do weight training exercises by using your legs to resist the load. This type of leg press benefits key muscles in the legs and lower back. There are a couple of different designs to leg press machines. These are a vertical leg press v 45-degree leg press.
The vertical machine allows you to lay on your back on a backrest that’s positioned vertically. Placing your feet on a metal footplate, you then push a load of heavyweight plates in an upwards motion. The 45-degree leg press means that your back is angled in a seated position. Again, you will resist the load by pushing with your legs.
We’ve reviewed some of the best vertical leg press machines on the market today. You can get a better understanding of how they work, and which one is best for you.
When you’re dealing with heavy loads between 400-1000-lbs, you need a vertical leg press machine that’s built of solid steel. Though most beginners will lift around a 400-600-lb load. It’s only seasoned weight lifters that will reach for a 1000-lb load on a leg press machine. Such heavy loads, however, require a solid and safe frame, so it’s important to check your leg press machine doesn’t have a wobble on it.
When lifting such loads, then comfort is essential. Thick padded back pads and neck pads are a must. Polyurethane pads are the best for long-lasting use. Also, make sure the footplate is comfortable to push on. That’s the main component in the machine and if it isn’t a good fit for you, then pushing on it may cause discomfort.
An adjustable frame might be best if you’re extra tall, or small. Not all leg press machines are adjustable so make sure the reach of the posts is comfortable for your size.
You need to feel comfortable when positioning your body and sit in the correct position. Follow the instructions or you may risk injury.
Check the measurements of any gym equipment to make sure it fits into your exercise area. That’s one of the advantages of a vertical leg press machine. Because it’s used in an upwards motion, it shouldn’t take up a lot of floor space.
Most brand new leg press machines come with instructions on how to put it together, so expect some assembly.
The 5 Best Vertical Leg Press Machines:
Below we list and review the 5 best vertical leg press machines currently on the market:
This machine focuses on the legs and lower back. It has 3-different positions with adjustable locking pins that allow you to perform powerful leg presses. Each position works on different sets of muscles. It’s also safe to do one-leg presses on this machine.
You will need to buy weight plates separately as they’re not supplied for this vertical leg press machine. There’s a generous space of 9-inches to stack the plates on the prongs. The plates need to have a 1-inch opening to slot onto the prongs firmly. Once plates are in position on the 3-posts, you can lay back on the extra thick pad board fixed to the base. It will support the back and hips as you lift with your legs. Your head will also be well supported with a padded neck rest. The extra-wide footplate makes it comfortable to push up with your feet and legs.
The solid frame is made from alloy steel. Nylon bushings lend the machine a good smooth motion. This space-efficient piece of gym equipment only takes up a floor space of approx. 4x4ft. You’ll need a little extra room to maneuver onto the machine. As most of the usage is in an upwards motion, you shouldn’t need much more floor space.
The frame has a 10-year warranty and all other parts are covered for 1-year.2.
Not to be confused with Titan’s leg press hack squat machine that they’re already popular for. This piece of gym equipment is a serious contender for any vertical leg machine. Titan has an already established reputation for producing quality gym equipment at affordable costs. Now they have designed a vertical leg press machine made from steel, making it solid and reliable.
The three x 2-inch weight posts allow 8.75-inches of space for spreading the load of your plates. What makes this machine unique are the 4 varying starting points at 26.5, 32, 35, and 38-inches. It means that it’s an ideal vertical leg press for different sized users.
Taking up a floor space of only 4×3-feet, and weighing only 94-lbs, this is a mobile machine that can be moved around easily.
Cushioned pads give you extra comfort for your back and neck. You know that you position yourself for a full lower body workout and avoid injury. There’s even a couple of useful cushioned handles for balancing while you perform your exercise routine.
The Valor vertical leg press is a steel design. Each steel plate post has an Olympic sleeve adapter, so this machine can hold both standard and Olympic plates. It’s another space-saving machine and only takes up approx. 3 x 4.5 feet when setup. With three posts to hold the plates, you can distribute the load evenly. Users suggest using iron plates rather than bumper plates. This is because there’s limited space on the plate posts.
The vinyl padded backrest is 33.5” x 17.5”. The ergonomic neck pad measures 10” x 7.5”. The method is to push up on the hammer tone footplate whilst lying on your back. The footplate reach is 41.5-inches. This works the muscles in your legs and lower back.
It has a 3-year warranty on the frame and a 2-years on the pads. Assembly is required but many users report that it’s not difficult and can be completed in around an hour.
Taking up a space of approx. 4×4-ft, this is a great space-saving piece of gym equipment. It’s crafted in alloy steel that’s powder-coated for long-lasting protection. This is another leg press that has 3-adjustable positions, using the locking pins.
With an extra-wide footplate for pushing up the load, it also has 3-posts for the weight plates. The posts will take 1-inch holed plates. You can also buy adapters to take Olympic plates, but they’re not supplied with this machine. Nylon bushings give a consistently smooth motion as you push the load.
Place your plates on the 3-posts. Get into position by laying down on the extra thick back pad. Arms will also layout flat, by your sides, on this floor pad. Position your head on the equally thick padded head and neck rest. Now you’re ready to do your leg presses, using the footplate to push in an upwards motion.
If you’re short on space, this vertical leg press machine could be a good option. Not only is it a great space saver, but it can also pack a heavy load on the 13.5-inch long plate holder posts. The two x 2-inch posts hold standard weight plates. You can also buy Olympic adapters separately. With the ultra-smooth nylon bushed bars, you’ll find a fluid up and down motion for this vertical leg workout.
It has everything you need to perform leg presses with comfort and safety. That includes padded back and neck rests, cushioned handles to hold onto, and a non-slip footplate. This steel-tube design weighs only 91-lbs without plates. The machine also has a 3-position lock, with 2-pins, so you can get in and out easily.
Added to these great features is a lifetime guarantee. It shows how confident the makers of the Yukon machine are about their product.
Popular Vertical Leg Press Machine FAQs:
What Muscles Does A Vertical Leg Press Exercise?
Leg presses mainly work on the quads (front of thigh). As you move your feet around, you can target different sets of muscles, such as the glutes (butt). This means you’re also working on the rotation of your hips, which is good for joints. You’ll also work on the hamstrings at the back of your thighs, which assist in walking and running.
It’s useful to compare vertical leg press v squats. With squats, you’ll use stabilizing muscles throughout the body. Whereas as a leg press machine takes most of the heavy load, allowing you to target the more primary moving muscles, such as the glutes.
What Causes Lower Back Pain With Vertical Leg Presses?
This resistance type of exercising offers many benefits, but it’s not without its risks too.
To reduce those risks, make sure that you’re seated correctly. Hips shouldn’t roll, the spine should be straight, and the lower back shouldn’t move from the back pad.
As should your head and neck be straight too, once you begin the exercise. Don’t use too heavy a load in the weight plates, or you may strain too many joints, leading to aches and pains, or even injury. Don’t do your presses too fast. Perform them with a smooth movement for your level of fitness, and don’t jar any joints as you resist.
Why Don’t All Gyms Have A Vertical Leg Press?
Surprisingly, many public gyms don’t have vertical leg press machines. Those who wish to build muscle strength often prefer squats as they’re more of a full-body workout. Whereas leg presses target the leg and lower back muscles only.
The machine doesn’t work on the whole body, as squats do. Much depends on what you wish to accomplish, strength or cosmetics? There’s no reason why you can’t do both. Use the squats for building up strength and the leg press machine for getting those leg muscles sculptured quickly.
How To Use a Vertical Leg Press Machine
1. Step 1 – Load up the machine with weight plates
Using a leg press machine means that you can lift more weight with your legs than you would with squats. This is where it’s good to know your personal RM (Repetition Maximum). Here’s a useful article in calculating your own RM.
As a rule of thumb, men who weigh approx. 150-lbs should be comfortable with approx. 172-lbs load. In contrast, a woman of the same weight should look to lifting around 105-lbs. Here’s is a good source of reference for understanding the average weight plates on leg pressing exercises.
2. Step 2 – Get Into Positon
Lay on the back pad and position your head on the neck pad. Ensure your spine is aligned straight. Place your feet on the footplate, shoulder-width apart.
3. Step 3 – Begin the extension
Before you extend your legs with a vertical push, unlock any safety pins and take a deep breath. If you want to concentrate on the quads, don’t extend the legs fully, stopping just before the full extension. For the glutes, let most of the push go through the heels. For the quads, let most of the push go through the balls of your feet. Keep looking upwards, maintaining the head and hips in one position throughout the exercise.
4. Step 4 Ending the extension
Drive the load back to the starting position by extending the knee joint. Do this at a steady pace so your knee doesn’t lock. The entire extension should be performed at a smooth rate, with no jarring at any point.
5. Step 5 – Doing it Right
Repeat as per your preferred sets and reps. Keep the lower back on the pad at all times. Experiment with your toe angle, adjusting as you do so until you feel comfortable. If anything feels painful, you’re not doing it right and you need to adjust. This should be a smooth transaction throughout.
Here’s a useful video to watch on how to use a leg press machine:
If your local gym doesn’t have a vertical press machine, you could still do vertical leg press Smith machine style. That is if your gym is equipped with a Smith machine. A Smith machine can be adapted to include vertical leg press exercises. It’s great for the “donkey kick,” which is an exercise that targets the glutes. Though this is more about lifting the weights using the back of your legs and kneeling on the floor as you do so.
Owning a home gym has many advantages, such as privacy and doing your workout at your own convenience. Adding a vertical leg press machine won’t take up that much space because you perform the exercises vertically. For ideas on other home gym equipment see our guide on the best home exercise equipment.
Always take care when using gym equipment, most especially if you have any injuries. Exercising is a good way to repair any injuries to joints, tendons or muscles, so long as you take care not to overdo the injury. The leg press is a good exercise if you have a knee injury, but don’t extend your legs all the way.
To work out the rest of your body you could consider adding an all in one home gym or weight bench to your home gym. The Marcy Multi-Position Bench is ideal if you have a knee injury. It has foam padding in the kneebars and inclines to 6 different positions, allowing you to tailor your exercises accordingly. It also folds away so it’s another a space-saving piece of gym equipment.