It’s been a while since I’ve posted another Best Butt Exercisebut today I want to share one that’s really been working my glutes lately!

Unfortunately though, you will need some equipment for this one – but the good news is that if you go to a gym, it’s highly likely they’ll have the machine you need there.

Yes, I’m talking about the leg press today – and to do it you’ll need to use the leg press machine.

Despite the name, the leg press exercise can be adapted to really work the glutes, and work them well it certainly does!

Exercise: Leg Press
Muscles worked: Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings
Jolie Recommends: 5+ sets of  8-12 reps
Difficulty rating: 5
Effectiveness rating: 8

Exercise #47: Leg Press


Most online guides and people will tell you that the leg press is predominantly a quad exercise. To that I say: it doesn’t have to be!

I have recently been going to my local gym and after a round of barbell squats, I started getting into the habit of finishing off my muscles on the leg press machine.

A leg press machine – this one is pretty old school though, all the ones at the gyms I’ve been to have an adjustable pin and weight plates for easy adjustment.

This machine is great because it allows you to lift a heavy load (remember, only progressive overload will trigger muscle hypertrophy and growth), without having to concentrate too much on form/balance/whatever else.

Don’t get me wrong, you should still be doing every rep in a mindful way, but I have found that when it comes to leg press, all I have to worry about and my main focus can just be pushing that weight up there with my legs and glutes.

The fact that I can focus on just moving a weight (and there’s not as much concentration needed for maintaining good form) means that I can in turn lift more weight, which means my glutes get worked – hard.

How To Target The Glutes During Leg Press

Foot position is important here – you want your feet to be high and somewhat wide-ish. I’ve covered targeting the glutes with the leg press exercise before, which included some one-leg variations, but you can just as effectively hit the glutes with the normal two-legged leg press (and it’s actually become one of my favorite glute moves).

The main cue that helps me to get my glutes firing when I do leg press is to actively think about squeezing my glutes the whole time, and especially before you begin the press. Once you’re set up – you simply press with your legs.

Of course, the quads do get activated as well, but the fact that I’m squeezing my glutes automatically makes them work during the movement (and for me, I feel my glutes burning even more so than the quads when I use this technique).

I find that I need to place my feet higher on the platform to target my glutes more. In this case, if I was her, I’d be placing my feet at least 1.5 black lines higher on the board than what’s shown in this picture.

After you’ve pressed (legs are at extension), there’s a trick to lowering the weight that will give you maximum glute work. Lower the weight nice and slowly, under control. Squeeze your glutes hard during this process!

How to Do the Move

So let’s leg press! Here’s how to do it. I know in this video he says that leg press is for building your quads, but I have found that if I place my feet just slightly higher than he demonstrates, and focus on squeezing my glutes, it works my glutes more than my quads.

  1. Place your feet around shoulder width apart with your toes pointed slightly outwards on the leg press platform.
  2. Squeeze your glutes, hard.
  3. While still squeezing your glutes, press firmly through your feet to raise the platform, stopping just before your knees lock out (DON’T fully straighten your legs!)
  4. Slowly lower down the platform, while still squeezing your glutes the whole time.
  5. That’s one rep. Repeat!

Perfecting Your Form

  • NEVER lock out your knees or straighten your legs fully – always maintain a slight bend in your knee for safety.
  • Use your mind-muscle connection to engage the glutes from the beginning and throughout the move.
  • Keep your feet flat on the platform and drive through the middle of your foot or slightly towards your heels.
  • Don’t let your knees buckle/cave inwards as you press. If anything, keep them aimed slightly outwards.
  • Release the weight down slowly to really work the glutes to their full potential.

Reppin’ It

I like to aim for as much volume as I can with leg presses once I am happy with my form and can feel the glutes burning!

For beginners, don’t start out too heavy. Try just pressing half your bodyweight to begin with and work your way up to your body weight to make sure your form using the machine is right.

Once you feel your glutes working the way you want them to, feel free to load on the weight to make those glutes grow. You might surprise yourself with how heavy you can go on leg press. Even up to two times your own body weight is considered normal.

I like to do around 5 or more sets of about 8-12 reps.

Best Butt Exercises: Leg Press (with Machine)
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