So, you want to know, “Why Are My Glutes Sore From Leg Press?”
The leg press is a fantastic lower body exercise, especially for hypertrophy.
So, if you want to add some serious muscle to your legs, it makes sense to leg press.
That being said, the leg press is mainly intended to work the quads, so if you’re feeling glute soreness, something isn’t quite right.
So, allow me to explain what’s going on here and how you can fix it.
Glutes Sore From Leg Press?
There are various reasons why your glutes are sore from leg press. Firstly, if your glutes feel sore before you’ve even fatigued your quads, this points to a potential glute weakness, as there is no way you can perform leg press without mainly using your quads. Furthermore, the higher or wider your feet are on the foot plate, the more likely you will be to activate your glutes.
1. Your Glutes Are Weak
The most obvious reason that your glutes are sore from leg press is because you have weak glutes.
There is absolutely no way you can leg press without using your quads.
So, if you’re immediately feeling leg press in your glutes, this is a sign that your glutes have fatigued before your quads.
Admittedly, these are two of the largest and strongest muscle groups in the body.
However, your glutes should always be bigger and stronger than your quads.
So, the soreness that you’re feeling is likely to be that you’ve taken your glutes as far as they can go, and now they’re giving out.
If I’m honest, glute weakness is extremely common.
However, this appears to be a more likely occurrence amongst men than women.
I guess this has much to do with women focusing heavily on glutes workouts over the last few years.
In truth, we should all be working the glutes much more.
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As I’ve mentioned, the glutes are the largest and strongest muscle group in the human body, so it makes perfect sense that you should train them regardless of your body composition goals.
Basically, if you want to be stronger, build muscle, lose weight, strip body fat, then make sure you work your glutes.
With that being said, there does seem to be a huge focus on the quads when it comes to lower-body training, especially for men.
And of course, this can eventually lead to muscle imbalances and muscle weaknesses.
Plus, this is the main reason why your glutes feel sore after leg press.
2. Where Are Your Feet on the Leg Press Machine?
I’m sure you’re aware that foot position plays an important role when you leg press.
In fact, you can target certain muscles more effectively depending on where you place your feet on the foot plate.
The leg press machine will always work the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the calves to some extent.
You would typically have your feet in the middle of the foot plate and approximately shoulder-width apart for the conventional leg press.
The traditional version focuses mainly on your quads, but it will also activate the glutes and hamstrings.
You can actually work the glutes and hamstrings more by ensuring that you go through the full range of motion.
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Next, there is the wide stance, which involves having your feet approximately 1.5 x shoulder-width apart.
You should also have your toes angled out slightly in much the same way as you do when you squat.
You’ll find that this stance puts you into slight hip abduction, which immediately means that you will have activated your glutes more.
Plus, you should feel the wide stance leg press in your hamstrings more too.
Then there is the narrow stance leg press, which focuses much more on the quads.
In fact, a narrow stance is a fantastic way to almost completely isolate the quadriceps.
Personally, I actually like to perform barbell back squats quite often with a narrow stance, as I know how fantastically well it hits the quads.
Feet High & Feet Low
You can also place your feet high or low on the foot plate.
The higher your feet are, the more hip extension that is required, which means that you’ll automatically activate your glutes and hamstrings more.
Whereas, the lower your feet are, the further your knees can travel past your toes, which obviously increases the range of motion for your knee.
And increased knee range of motion will mean that you’re working your quads harder.
I will also add that you can of course do single leg press, as well using the leg press machine for calf raises, thus giving you 7 different foot placement options.
So, make a note of exactly where you’re placing your feet next time you leg press, as this may explain your sore glutes.
3. You Have Anterior Pelvic Tilt
The final thing to consider is the possibility you have anterior pelvic tilt.
In fact, it may be very likely if your glutes are sore after leg press.
Research suggests that approximately 85% of men and 75% of women have anterior pelvic tilt.
And just to make matters worse, the vast majority of people don’t even realise they have this “condition”.
Anterior pelvic tilt can best be described as a change in posture which sees the front of your pelvis rotate forward, whereas the back of your pelvis rises up.
In effect, your posture makes it look as though your butt is sticking out and up into the air.
Now, I’ve mentioned that many people aren’t even aware that they have anterior pelvic tilt.
This clearly means you can live a normal and healthy life with anterior pelvic tilt.
However, any form of poor posture can eventually catch up with you and cause you issues in later life.
With that being said, anterior pelvic tilt will typically mean that you have tight pelvic and quad muscles.
Furthermore, it’s likely that your abs and glutes will be weak, all of this can cause you lower back pain.
And this can certainly be exasperated when you leg press.
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So, if your glutes are sore from leg press, this is definitely something you need to look into.
How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt
So, I hope you understand that sore glutes from leg press may initially point to a glute weakness.
Basically, even though the leg press stimulates most of the lower body muscles, it is primarily a quad exercise.
Therefore, glute soreness typically means that your glutes are fatiguing before your quads.
So, it is likely that your glutes are weak in comparison to your quad strength.
Where you place your feet on the leg press machine will also make a difference.
Having your feet higher or wider on the foot plate will activate your glutes to far greater effect.
Finally, you may actually have anterior pelvic tilt, which is most commonly associated with weak abs and weak glutes.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.