Vertical Vs Horizontal Leg Press: What Are the Differences?

Sometimes, it can be challenging to differentiate between the vertical leg and leg press exercises. Distinguishing between them is crucial for many reasons. The main reason is that they train different muscles in the legs.

What Are The Differences?

The differences between these exercises are more than just their leg angles. These differences also come down to how each exercise loads your spine and hips, their range of motion, grip options, their ability to enhance weight loss, and the fact that one is performed with free weights and one with machines.

Understanding these differences is important because they can help you pick the proper exercise for your body. It can also help you eliminate different effects that come with each. These effects include elbow pain and wrist pain associated with the leg press.

1. Angle Of Operation

The Vertical Leg Press is done at a 45-degree angle to the ground, and the leg press is done with straight legs.
The two differ in that the vertical leg press requires you to push the weight up with your legs, while the leg press requires you to push it up with your hips and back. This difference in resistance makes them work different muscles in the legs and body.

2. Range of motion.

The leg press is more limited than the vertical leg press. When doing the leg press, you can only move your legs up a certain amount. But with the vertical leg press, your legs can travel from a 90-degree angle to the ground to 180 degrees perpendicular to the ground. Because of these differences in the range of motion, an individual's injuries may be a factor when deciding which exercise to choose.

3. Grip

The leg press has your hands positioned inside your legs. This position puts a lot of pressure on the biceps, elbows, and wrists. Because of this, many people who do the leg press find they experience elbow pain or wrist pain, or both. The vertical leg press eliminates this grip factor because it has you doing a straight-arm push-up with your arms placed flat along your sides instead of gripping them inside of your legs. Thus, your hands are free to move and not pressure the wrists.

4. Different Applications

While the leg press and vertical leg press work your legs, they are used for different purposes. The leg press is used in larger muscle groups such as the quadriceps and gluteal muscles.  The vertical leg press is used mainly in smaller muscle groups like the hamstrings and calves. The vertical leg press works for smaller muscle groups harder than the leg press. It also requires lighter weight and doesn't put as much stress on other muscles in the body, like the biceps and hips.

The vertical leg press is advantageous to athletes and women because it emphasizes more on hamstrings.

5. Free Weights vs. Machines

The vertical leg press is performed using free weights, while the leg press is performed using a machine. A person who wants to build muscle and strength would want to use the free weight version of the exercise. A person rehabilitating an injury would want to use the machine version because it doesn't pressure the joints or tendons.

6. Help With Weight Loss

Free weights are typically not used by people who want to lose weight because they tend to use heavier weight, which can cause the body to store fat instead of using it for fuel. Machines are a better alternative because they allow you to control how much weight you are using, making it easier to perform the exercise without putting on extra pounds.

Thus, the vertical leg press is suitable for those who want to build muscles, and the leg press is suitable for exercise.

7. Increase in Overall Strength

The vertical leg press is mainly used to strengthen the quadriceps. Quadriceps are the muscles used when you squat and jump. The leg press is mainly used to strengthen the hamstrings. Because of this difference, the vertical leg press is a much better choice for people who want to build muscle overall.

8. Working Principle

The vertical leg press uses a barbell and foot placement parallel to the machine, while the leg press uses your body weight and allows you to bend your knees at an angle.

9. Weight Limits

You can do the leg press with unlimited weights since it is a machine. The vertical leg press has a fixed range of motion and vertical knee placement. Vertical knee replacement means that gravity is a limiting factor.

What Do They Do?

Both exercises are used primarily as power builders in strength training. They also help develop mass in the legs.

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