Does Leg Press Work The Glutes? (Try This)

December 30, 2022

The leg press is a machine typically used to build the quads. Most lifters don’t use it correctly under developing their entire lower body. But is there a way to use the leg press to work the glutes?

The leg press works the glutes, especially when the feet are higher on the platform. However, other exercises like deep squats and hip hinging are better for maximizing glute growth.

But there are many different leg press machines. Is one better than the other for glute development?

Does The Leg Press Work Glutes?

The leg press does work the glutes. But it requires slight modification. Placing the feet higher on the platform increases gluteus maximus activation [1]. Therefore, put your feet higher if you want to prioritize glute development with the leg press.

If the quadriceps are your focus, place your feet lower on the platform. It’s also important to get as deep as you can. A common mistake is half-repping the leg press. Doing so doesn’t put the glutes under much stretch, making it sub-optimal for building a bigger butt.

Can You Grow Glutes With Just The Leg Press?

Can You Grow Glutes With Just The Leg Press

You can’t grow glutes only using the leg press. While it is an exercise that works the glutes, there are better exercises for growing your butt into something you’re proud of. Here’s a quick list of exercises you can use with the leg press:

  • Hip Thrust
  • Glute Bridge
  • Deep Squats
  • Lunges
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • KB Swings

These exercises should make up the core of your glute training, with other glute isolation exercises like kickbacks being the icing on the cake.

Can Leg Press Replace Squats For Glutes?

The leg press can replace squats for the glutes, but I would only recommend it if you cannot squat due to past injuries. The glutes see significant glute activation during the squat and are one of the prime movers.

Especially when the low bar back squat is used due to the greater forward lean [2][3]. However, if you prioritize other movements, such as the hip thrust, lunge, and Romanian deadlift, you could use the leg press as an accessory movement without squatting.

Best Leg Press To Work Glutes

The 45° incline leg press is your best option for working the glutes. It’s the most readily available at most commercial gyms. Horizontal leg presses are awkward, pin-loaded, and have a reduced range of motion because of their design.

They are also difficult to get started with heavy loads. The vertical leg press is another option, but these machines are not common.

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Modify your foot placement on the leg press higher up the platform to target your glutes. But don’t rely entirely on the leg press for maximum glute development. Squatting and hip hinging should make the bulk of your glute training for low to high reps.


1. Da Silva, E. M., Brentano, M. A., Cadore, E. L., De Almeida, A. P. V., & Kruel, L. F. M. (2008). Analysis of muscle activation during different leg press exercises at submaximum effort levels. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research22(4), 1059-1065.

2. Murawa, M., Fryzowicz, A., Kabacinski, J., Jurga, J., Gorwa, J., Galli, M., & Zago, M. (2020). Muscle activation varies between high-bar and low-bar back squat. PeerJ8, e9256.

3. Glassbrook, D. J., Helms, E. R., Brown, S. R., & Storey, A. G. (2017). A review of the biomechanical differences between the high-bar and low-bar back-squat. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research31(9), 2618-2634.

About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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