Whether you want to target your leg muscles or protect your back during a workout, a leg press machine is essential. Using a machine for leg presses throughout your strength training can quickly and safely tone up your legs, glutes, quads, and core. And with several different options available to choose from, your possibilities are endless!

Of course, you don’t want to go out and buy the first machine you encounter. Finding the right machine means taking your fitness goals, physical capabilities, and budget into account. With a little guidance and research, you’ll be well on your way to getting that toned lower body you deserve.

In this article, we’ll explore what a machine for leg press is and what to look for when buying one for your home gym. We’ll also cover five of the top options out there for home machines, along with which type will best fit your needs.

The Best Machine For Your Needs

We’ve touched on what type of machines are available, but which one is right for you? Depending on your fitness goals and overall strength, you’ve got plenty of options. Here are some of our suggestions for the home machine press of your dreams.

Seated Leg Machine

Closest to a regular squat, the seated machine for leg press helps you work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and inner thighs. Seated machines for leg presses can have seats that either sit straight up (also known as a horizontal leg press) or at 45 degrees. They especially protect your back and knees by removing the pressure from them and focusing on your thighs and hips. This type of machine can be either cable or sled-type.

Cable seated machines are equivalent to what most gyms have, and they can be somewhat cheaper than sled-type machines. However, they also offer less versatility and weight options, since they come with a predetermined stack attached to the cable. Sled-type seated machines can be costlier because you must buy leg weights to effectively use them. These weights are plates that can be added to and removed from the machine as needed. They offer more challenge in terms of muscle-building and endurance.

#1. Powerline Vertical Leg Press – The Best Compact Machine
Body-Solid Powerline Vertical Leg Press
160 Reviews
Body-Solid Powerline Vertical Leg Press
  • Vertical leg press that effectively isolates your lower body muscles
  • Dual-adjustable 1/2-inch locking pins; 3 starting and stopping positions
  • Extra-thick back pad and contoured head and neck pad

Although this is a more compact machine, it still has mega weight lifting abilities that will accommodate the needs of most people who use it. The Powerline is the second vertical leg machine on the list.

Highlights:

  • Compatible with standard weight plates (Olympic adapter sleeves available)
  • Max weight lifting capacity is 400 lbs
  • Total product weight is 93 lbs
  • Dimensions: 46in x 48in x 60in

Who Makes It:

Powerline is a line from the larger and more well-known Body Solid fitness organization. Body Solid offers fitness products for residential and commercial use as well as plans for organizing your fitness space.

The Bottom Line:

If you have minimal space in your home, a vertical leg machine is the best option for you. Another plus is that this machine can accommodate both Olympic and standard weight plates.

 

#2. Leg Press & Hack Squat Machine– Great for Home Gyms

Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine
51 Reviews
Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press/Hack Squat Machine
  • Quad Track roller System operates smoothly and distributes weight evenly
  • Both back pads utilize a quick flip-and-lock mechanism
  • Extra-heavy Gauge diamond plate foot platforms for both leg press and hack squat positions

This machine is a squat press machine that combines traditional leg presses with a squat rack attachment. On this machine alone, you can get both a leg press and a hack squat workout.

Highlights:

  • Max weight lifting capacity is 1000 lbs
  • Compatible with Olympic weight plates
  • Total product weight is 317 lbs
  • Dimensions: 83in x 34in x 56in

Who Makes It:

Body Solid reappears on this list of the best leg machines you can buy. It is no surprise that this well-known company sells various high-quality products.

The Bottom Line:

If you have existing Olympic weight plates in your home and you want equipment for a better leg workout, the Body Solid leg machine is one of the best options for you. It has up to 1000 lbs of weight lifting capacity, so power lifters should be able to make mega gains on this machine.

 

#3. Leg Press Hip Sled – The Best Leg Machine for Pros

Bodycraft F660 Leg Press/Hip Sled
9 Reviews
Bodycraft F660 Leg Press/Hip Sled
  • Adjustable shoulder pads allow for a wide range of user heights. This also allows us to make the machine...
  • Fully adjustable foot plate for any desired angle
  • Foot plate also folds out of the way for Hack Squats

This heavy duty and extremely versatile leg machine is best for those who want to lift heavy weight. You can lift up to 1000 lbs while doing calf raises, seated leg press exercises, and sliding hack squat exercises.

Highlights:

  • Max weight lifting capacity is 1000 lbs
  • Able to perform calf raises, hack squats, donkey squats and seated leg presses
  • Total product weight is 378 lbs
  • Dimensions 48in x 60in x 70in

Who Makes It:

Body Craft is another industry-leading company not to be confused with Body Solid. Aside from stationary fitness equipment, Body Craft also sells bikes for exercise and recreation.

The Bottom Line:

Hardcore weight lifters looking to do leg max outs should choose this machine. With so many exercises available on the leg press hip sled, you can push 1000 lbs on your legs, glutes and calves to get ready for your next bodybuilding show (or maybe just your next mirror selfie).

 

#4. Squat & Calf Machine – All-in-One Machine

Body-Solid Leverage Squat and Calf Raise Machine (GSCL360)
65 Reviews
Body-Solid Leverage Squat and Calf Raise Machine (GSCL360)
  • Squat machine supports weight loads of over 800 pounds (weight plates sold separately)
  • Heavy-gauge diamond plate foot platform set to an ideal 20-degree pitch
  • Perfect for building mass and strength in your thighs, glutes, calves, and lower back

For those who want to get an all-in-one leg workout from a single piece, the Body Solid squat and calf machine is the best investment for you. On this machine alone, you can do calf raises and squats with various positions and angles to target each and every muscle in the legs.

Highlights:

  • Max weight lifting capacity is over 800 lbs
  • Compatible with Olympic weight plates
  • Total product weight is 170 lbs (frame only)
  • Dimensions: 62in x 43in x 56in

Who Makes It:

Yet again Body Solid reappears on the list. See a trend? If you decide to purchase a Body Solid product, you can rest assured you are getting a great product.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re all about getting the most bang for your buck, consider the Body Solid leg and calf machine. As mentioned above, you can get several leg exercises on this one machine, saving you money, space, and giving you sculpted, strong legs. With the ability to do deep calf raises and various squats, this can function as the sole leg machine in your home fitness space.

 

Vertical Leg Press Machine (Smith Machine Leg Press)

Known as the most challenging type of leg machine, a vertical machine for leg press requires you to lie on your back and use your legs to lift the weight upward. You can place the machine weights, in the form of plates, above the bar or sled to create more resistance. Because the squat is much deeper and more difficult when laying at a 90-degree angle, a vertical machine primarily works your hamstrings and glutes. You can vary the depth of your squat as well, which works even more muscles like your core and quads.

The vertical machine, also known as the Smith machine leg press, can have a wide plate to place your feet on. Others simply use a bar—much like a barbell, but with flat edges for better foot grip. This machine is ideal for athletes who want a greater challenge, since the angle works your muscles more. It is also effective for people who don’t want to spend as much on free weights, since you’ll need less weight to feel the impact. Not to mention, vertical machines for leg presses typically have lower prices than seated machines in general!

Using a Leg Press Machine

Woman using a leg press machineIf you do any sort of assisted strength training, where you use weight resistance to make your muscles work harder and grow, you may have heard of a leg press machine. Like lat pulldown machines and other equipment, machines for leg press targets exactly what you might expect: your leg muscles.

Most machines for leg press contain a seat and a flat surface (“sled”) or bar to place your feet against. There are two main types of machines for legs, based on the type of resistance mechanism they use:

  1. A sled-type press uses weights from the machine, placed on the sled to create resistance.
  2. A cable press uses a weight stack attached to the sled by a steel cable to create resistance.

Even though there are different types of machines, exercising on them is fairly the same concept. First, place your feet on the sled or bar with the desired weight selected. Next, bend your legs and straighten them again—much like the standard squat—while keeping your feet firmly planted. Also keep your back firmly pressed against the seat, using your hands to hold on to the edges of the seat as needed. You want to make sure that you don’t lock out your knees after pressing upward in order to protect your joints. Locking out a joint also takes the tension of the muscle being worked depriving you of the proper time under tension.

You can vary the depth of the squat, your speed as you complete the reps, and how much weight you press. Each variation will help you target different leg muscles.

Benefits of a Machine for Leg Presses

Fit woman uses a leg press machineMany people wonder why they should use a machine instead of doing leg exercises like squats and lunges. While those exercises are great for toning up your legs, there are also many benefits to using a machine. Besides providing a diverse experience that can challenge your lower body workouts, these machines can:

1. Help you target more muscles.

Leg press machines have varying seat angles, and each type of angle helps to target certain muscle groups in your legs. Seats can range from straight-backed to 45-degree, and even to completely flat. For example, by using a horizontal or seated machine, you can sit up straight or at a 45-degree angle. This allows you to work your quads, calves, and lower core. A vertical machine, on the other hand, seats you below the weight with your back on the ground. By pressing upward with your legs, you can target your hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

So, although regular lunges and squats are good for targeting your legs in general, you can really dial down your focus using a machine.

2. Add more weight to your resistance training.

If you don’t have dumbbells or a barbell weight set, a machine is a great alternative. It’s got a lot of weight options in one package and takes up minimal space.

Not to mention, your legs contain the largest muscle groups in the body. That means typically, they can hold a lot more weight than your back, shoulders, and arms can support. By eliminating the need to use your whole body, you can make your leg muscles stronger than ever by upping the amount of weight you use.

Muscle growth comes from progressive resistance, which means gradually adding more weights each time you train. Even small increments in weight help to create this progressive overload, which is the secret to muscle growth. If you train with the same weight week after week, your muscles get used to it and don’t respond back as well as they could. This effect happens no matter your age, which is another reason why everyone should strength train!

Studies show that progressive resistance also boosts your natural testosterone and growth hormone production. These hormones not only help build muscle but help strengthen and develop the entire body. When you do a leg workout, you’re basically doing a full-body workout because of the hormone release you receive from it.

3. Encourage proper form and protect your back.

When you perform lunges or squats, proper form is essential to protecting especially your spine and back. Improper form can cause not only lower back injuries but also knee and leg hyper-extensions, tears, and sprains.

Even with this knowledge, it’s hard to get the perfect form every time—especially when you’re getting fatigued! With a machine, you eliminate the guesswork. By forcing you to sit with proper posture and relieving back pressure, these machines ensure you don’t get hurt. This also makes them ideal for people with back injuries who still want to work out.

Build strong legs

You’ve learned more about why these machines for leg presses are popular in the home gym market and their best options. A machine for your legs will help you isolate your legs during workouts and protect your back and knees from injury. It will also help you focus your strength training efforts on your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

There are many budget-friendly options out there, so now it’s time for you to choose! Pick the leg press machine that fits your fitness goals and lifestyle, and it’ll serve you for years to come.

Do you have a machine for leg presses you’ve found effective? Have you tried any of the ones on this list? We’d love to hear from you—let us know in the comments below!