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Leg and Knee Exercises: Leg Press

The following exercise helps build strong, balanced leg muscles. Make sure to adjust exercise machines as instructed by your physical therapist. They will tell you how many times to do the exercise. Ask your physical therapist to show you how to do the exercise, if needed.

Here are the steps for the leg press:

  • Sit with your back and tailbone (sacrum) flat against the backrest of the machine, or as directed by your physical therapist.

  • Place your feet on the resistance plate with your toes pointing forward and heels flat on the resistance plate.

  • Push with your legs until they are almost completely straight. Be sure not to lock your knees. Tighten your stomach muscles to stabilize your spine.

  • Slowly and steadily bend your knees, lowering the platform as far as comfortable, and then push back until your knees are almost straight. You should not feel pressure or pain in your knees.

  • Repeat 8 to12 times, focusing on feeling a burn in your thighs and glutes (buttocks).

Side view of woman using incline leg press.


To prevent injury, stop any exercise that causes pain. Discuss it with your physical therapist or healthcare provider.

Online Medical Reviewer: Ross Brakeville DPT
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2022
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