45 Deg Leg Press Exercise Guide — How to, Muscles Worked, & Variations

45 deg leg press machine Dorian Yates
Image via Instagram @thedorianyates

The 45 deg leg press allows you to push heavier loads than the machine leg press. 

Many athletes approach leg day with trepidation due to its challenging nature. However, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts widely acknowledge the critical role of leg day exercises. These exercises fortify the muscles in your lower body, enhancing balance and explosive strength.

Various exercises are available to maximize the benefits of your leg workouts. This guide will zero in on the 45-degree (deg) leg press, which offers a potent solution for those seeking to strengthen their lower body, primarily focusing on the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

In this article, we’ll explore the 45 deg leg press and highlight its significance in bolstering lower body muscles. We’ll also explore its advantages and alternatives and provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on executing this exercise properly.

Technique & Muscles Worked

The 45 deg leg press is a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups in the lower body, including quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves (1). Core muscles like the abs, obliques, and lower back stabilize the exercise. 

Beginners should start the 45-degree leg press with light weights. However, advanced athletes can also use this exercise to target their legs while decreasing the chance of injury compared to other leg exercises like squats. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do the 45-degree leg press with proper form. 

  1. Load the 45 deg leg press machine with appropriate weights and adjust the seat to fit comfortably. 
  2. Place your back and head flat on the machine seat. Position your legs at a 45-degree angle in the middle of the platform to avoid slipping during the exercise.
  3. Grab the handles by the side and extend your feet to unpack the plates from their hold.
  4. Take a deep breath, brace your core, and slowly lower the weights until your knees almost touch your chest. This is your starting position.
  5. Next, exhale while fully extending your legs by pressing against the platform. Be careful not to lock your legs to protect your knee joints
  6. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for the desired reps.


It’s a compound exercise that works the lower part of your body. It’s effective for building muscle and strength in your legs. Below are the benefits of using the 45 deg leg press.

Useful for Beginners

The 45-degree leg press is suitable for beginners who want to develop power and strength in their lower bodies. This enables them to transfer their skills to more advanced training and exercises like CrossFit, deadlifts, squats, and powerlifting.

Improved Athletic Performance

Regularly performing the 45-degree leg press can improve lower body strength and balance. It also increases speed, power, and explosiveness, making it useful for aerobics, sports, and other exercises.

Build the Lower Body

When performing the 45-degree leg press, the position eliminates all upper body muscles. This focuses on the lower body, increasing the muscle hypertrophy of different muscle groups in the legs.

Reduces the Risk of Injury

Doing the 45-degree leg press on a machine eliminates the use of free weights, which helps with the problem of balancing weights. The machine also offers seat and back support, which helps train your lower body, even if you have a back injury.

Use Heavier Loads 

Performing the 45-degree leg press allows you to accommodate heavy loads and use more than the machine leg press. The machine provides load support and stability, combined with stacking plates on each side, allowing you to push as much weight as possible for massive muscle gains.

Improve Flexibility, Posture, & Movement

The 45 deg leg press strengthens lower body muscles like the quads, calves, and hamstrings. These muscles help with balance and proper form. Studies show that strengthening your quads as you age can help prevent random falls and injuries (2).

45 Deg Leg Press Alternatives

The 45 deg leg press is a leg-strengthening exercise effective for building your lower body. This exercise is done with a machine, making it easier to perform. However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to this exercise to avoid a plateau. Below are some other alternative exercises for building your legs and lower body.

Bulgarian Split Squats

Bulgarian split squats are unilateral exercises that work the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. The core stabilizes the body during this exercise. You can do this routine with just your bodyweight or different free weights.

Box Jumps

Box jumps build explosive power, working on your glutes, hamstrings, abductors, adductors, and quads. Use a durable and steady box for this exercise to avoid injuries.

Banded Squats

A banded squat uses resistance bands that target the glutes, hamstrings, core, and quads during a squat—using resistance bands while squatting forces your lower body muscles to contract more, building strength.


What does the 45 degree leg press work?

The 45 deg leg press works on your lower body, providing strength and balance. This includes your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Your core also plays a role in this routine. For more info, check the guide above. 

Is the 45-degree leg press good for you?

A 45-degree leg press is good because it’s easy for beginners and allows advanced athletes to load up with heavy weights. It also reduces the risk of injuries by isolating the lower body and providing stability. 

What weight should a beginner leg press?

For beginners who want to do the 45 deg leg press, starting with no weights is advisable to get the feel, movement, and form down. Then, you can progress to light weights (usually half your body weight) that are comfortable for you.

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  1. Da Silva, E. M., Brentano, M. A., Cadore, E. L., De Almeida, A. P., & Kruel, L. F. (2008). Analysis of muscle activation during different leg press exercises at submaximum effort levels. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 22(4), 1059–1065. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181739445
  2. Ahmadiahangar, A., Javadian, Y., Babaei, M., Heidari, B., Hosseini, S., & Aminzadeh, M. (2018). The role of quadriceps muscle strength in the development of falls in the elderly people, a cross-sectional study. Chiropractic & manual therapies, 26, 31. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-018-0195-x
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.