Yes, this can be a safe way to leg press if performed correctly. This exercise is somewhat similar to “sumo squats” with free weight or body weight. If you are in doubt whether you’re performing this exercise correctly have a certified personal trainer (assuming you are not one) take a look at what you’re doing, and make any necessary corrections.
I hope this helps.
It is natural for most people to point their toes outward when doing squats or leg exercises. What you’re talking about has a lot to do with natural protation in the feet. This happens in feet because the big toe and middle toe bear most of the weight load. Think of it this way, these two toes are 1-2 inches long on average, they can offer more support over a wider area if your feet are pointed outward a little. Posture starts in the feet. The amount of pronation in your feet is directly related to stability in your knees, your hips, and then your spine. Take care of your feet and consider getting a trainer to instruct you on the correct amount of “pointing your toes out” for most people. If that feels comfortable to you, then you may have normal feet that don’t need any attention, but if it doesn’t feel good or if it puts a lot of strain in your knees, then you should consult a podiatrist for a defninte answer on how much outward rotation is natural and neutral for you. Many times they can make custom orthotics to be worn to correct issues in your feet. Don’t just go with any old orthotic (shoe insert) that you get one of those stations in that “analyzes your feet” in a popular all-purpose store.
I see that you are indeed a personal trainer so I am assuming you have heard varying opinions on this.
Depending on the placement of your feet and how much ROM is applied determines the target of the exercise whether it be the hamstrings, glutes quadriceps, and calves. However if this exercise is performed improperly the leg press can be very damaging to the knees.
When I started training I always remembered the – “toes in” targets “outer thighs” while “toes out” targets inner thighs with a 30 deg. angle in or out with toes and lowering weight until knees are @ 90 deg.
And then another issue is how far apart are the feet? 6-8 inches or wider?
I think it’s all a matter of what’s best for the individual depending on their body type and what they are most comfortable in doing.