How Does a Leg Press Tone Your Legs?

A leg press works most of the muscles in your thighs.
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Long, lean legs are a classic signal of beauty, yet many women worry about weight on their legs, particularly their thighs. Women tend to build more fat along their thighs, making it much more difficult to meet the ideal of shapely, thin legs. A leg press is a valuable tool that can help you tone your thighs and achieve the body you want.

Leg Press Basics

    Two types of leg presses are generally available in gyms. Sled-style leg presses position you so that you're below the weight and push it up diagonally away from your body. Cable leg presses, conversely, are positioned so that users are seated with the weights directly in front of them. You then push a plate mounted to a resistance cable away from your body.


    The quadriceps are the group of muscles at the front of the thigh and are often the first thigh muscles to become visibly toned. These muscles extend and straighten your knees during exercise. When you push on a leg press with your legs, your quadriceps are engaged as you push out.


    Positioned at the back of the thigh, the hamstrings flex the knees and extend the hips. These muscles are worked as you pull your knees in toward your body after pushing the leg press weight or cable away. To maximize the benefits to these muscles, pull your knees slowly back toward you rather than allowing the leg press to force them back.

Other Muscles

    The calf muscles, located at the back of your lower legs, help to flex the ankles and the knees. A leg press primarily works the muscles of the upper legs, but if you point and flex your feet as you perform a leg press, your calves will be engaged and get a light workout. Leg presses also work your gluteus maximus -- commonly called the glutes. These hip muscles help to extend the leg and are engaged as you push out on the leg press.

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