If you are looking to add a leg press to your home gym you have come to the right place!
The leg press is a great way to build key leg muscles safely, effectively, and without carrying a loaded barbell on your back.
Here I review the 9 best leg press machines of 2021 for your home gym.
I included a leg press buying guide, workout routines you can do with the leg press, and answer your most pressing leg press questions.
- TOP 9 Best Leg Press Machines of 2021
- Force USA Monster Ultimate Leg Press
- Valor Fitness CC-10 Home Gym Vertical Leg Press
- Body-Solid LVLP Leverage Horizontal Leg Press
- TDS 4 Way Hip Sled Machine
- Body-Solid Powerline Vertical Leg Press
- Body-Solid Leg Press and Hack Squat
- Yukon Fitness Vertical Leg Press VLP-154
- Body-Solid Powerline Home Gym with Leg Press
- Powertec Fitness Leg Press
- Before You Buy – Leg Press Buying Guide
- Different Types of Leg Press Machines
- Benefits of a Leg Press Machine
- Leg Press Machine Workout Routines
- Leg Press FAQs
- Reap The Benefits – Conclusion
TOP 9 Best Leg Press Machines of 2021
Before You Buy – Leg Press Buying Guide
Before spending your hard-earned money on a leg press machine for your home gym, it’s best to be smart and research the market thoroughly.
But first, you have to know what you are looking for.
Here are a few leg press machine characteristics to keep in mind while you shop:
How much space do you have to place your leg press machine? It is best to measure the area you intend to place the equipment.
Be sure once your machine is in place, you still have room to move around the press.
You may end up with hundreds of pounds of weight on your leg press machine. Being confident in your machine is crucial because it will relay into your lifts.
Look for machines made of at least 10-gauge steel that is at least 2 inches wide.
This correlates with the construction of the material. If you have ever lifted with a machine that grinds on its intended path, or got stuck mid-repetition, you know how important this is.
Read customer reviews and look for complaints of jerky operation.
Look for machines that use bearings on the gliding track for smoother operation.
Know your budget. There are solid options for your leg press machine no matter how much money you have available.
Know your budget first, and then do your diligence to make sure you get the most for your money.
My favorite budget-friendly leg press is the Valor Fitness CC-10 Home Gym Vertical Leg Press because it is very space-saving, reliable and sturdy, and the best leg press under 500 dollars.
Max Weight Capacity
Think about how much you plan to lift. There are great leg press machines that are rated for up to 500 lbs, and machines that can hold more, even up to 1000 lbs.
Think about what kind of athlete you are now, and where you want to go, and let that guide your decision on the best leg press machine for you.
Use a combination of the tips above to decide which machine is best for you.
If you follow these suggestions closely, you should wind up with a quality machine that you will be comfortable using!
Different Types of Leg Press Machines
Which leg press is for me?
When you search for the best leg press machines you will find that there are three types of leg press machines that are most commonly used in-home or at gyms.
Standard 45 Degree Angle Leg Press
Most leg presses on the market are the standard 45-degree angle leg press where you sit on the seat back and push the weight up. The weight is stacked evenly on both sides.
Vertical Leg Press
Vertical leg presses are the most economical option, and the most compact machines. The weight sits directly above your hips and you lay on a back pad and headrest near the floor as you push your legs straight up vertically.
Horizontal Leg Press
With this machine, you sit upright. The sled gets its resistance from a cable or lever attached to the weight. From this position you push the sled outward rather than upward.
Nearly all leg presses today require you to use Olympic weight plates to stack on to add resistance. If you have a set, that’s great!
If you need a set of Olympic weight plates, I have a list of the best sets of Olympic weight plates here.
A seated cable leg press is not a bad option either though. While free weights tend to build muscle more efficiently, you can still get some great muscle building leg work done with a cable machine.
Regardless of which type you choose, you should have noticeably stronger legs in no time!
Benefits of a Leg Press Machine
It is common knowledge that your legs are the most powerful set of muscles in your entire body.
Any fitness trainer will strongly recommend that you make it a point to focus on your legs.
Neglecting your leg muscles and skipping leg day can result in that dreaded top-heavy look, or what is known in some fitness circles as “chicken legs”.
Leg press machines offer a great alternative to the free barbell squat exercise, which many people dread.
Below you will find 4 benefits of using a leg press machine.
Prevent injury: Squatting regularly with heavy weight can really put a strain on your back. By using a quality leg press machine with sufficient back support, you can eliminate much of the stress from squats.
Many leg press machines allow you to adjust your position so that you can maximize comfort and get the most ergonomic, back-saving position possible.
Emphasis on the quads: When you perform leg presses properly, most of the pushing motion will stem from your quadriceps. Both the downward and upward motions from the machine will place most of the load on your quads.
You can use the leg press to build strong and thick thighs quickly.
Change foot position: By simply changing the position of your feet on the sled, you can easily target different portions of your thighs. This is crucial to building optimal balance and strength in your lower body.
Calf raises: A leg press machine can double as a calf raise machine. All you have to do is place the load of the sled on the ball of your feet and press upward without bending your knees.
By performing heavy leg presses, you also stand a great chance of improving the amount of weight you can squat using the free barbell.
As you can see, leg press machines are extremely versatile. They also offer a great alternative to squats while minimizing the harmful effects of squats.
These benefits of leg press machines should prove that this is a valuable exercise and deserves a place in your home gym.
Leg Press Machine Workout Routines
Looking for leg press machine workouts?
I have you covered!
Follow any of these leg press machine workouts and get the most out of your leg press machine.
How to Use a Leg Press Machine
This video by Colossus Fitness keys you in to the common mistakes athletes make using the leg press machine, and then covers three-leg press variations you can use to build your quads. I love that the video explains the why and how of each variation.
Growing the Vastus Medialis Using a Leg Press
If you want to know how to train the muscle of the inner quad, known as the Vastus Medialis, using the leg press, check this video out.
The Vastus Medialis is the teardrop shape muscle located on the inner-front of the thigh, right above the knee.
How to Use the Leg Press to Target Specific Leg Muscles
This video by Bret Contreras will show you how to use the leg press to focus on quads, or hamstrings or glutes using a glute loop or resistance band.
Need a good set of resistance bands? I have a list of the best resistance bands here.
Leg Press Alternative
Don’t have access to a leg press?
That’s OK. Use a pair of dumbbells with this leg press alternative workout routine in the video below.
Here is an article covering even more leg press alternatives.
Leg Press FAQs
Is the Leg Press Machine Effective?
Leg presses are great for isolating, building and strengthening specific leg muscles.
Sure, they do not work core and stabilizing muscles like free weights will, but they are a great tool for building mass in the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves quickly.
Leg presses can be done after your free barbell workout, when your legs are fatigued, because of the safety features built into the machine, and allow you to continue working the leg muscles.
Are Leg Presses Better than Squats?
Each exercise has its own advantages and purpose and I believe both exercises should be included in your routine.
Free barbell squats force you to use core and stabilizing muscles, along with your quads, hamstrings and glutes.
That’s great. But…
The leg press allows you to focus solely on one muscle and therefore allows you to lift more weight than you can with a free barbell squat. Lifting more weight translates to bigger gains in the muscle you are focusing on.
So you can see why both free weight squats and leg press are important.
What is a Good Weight for Leg Press?
Keep in mind, whatever weight you can squat. You can probably lift more weight using a leg press.
Keep this important bit of info in mind:
The range of motion you use on the leg press greatly affects how much you can lift. If you do not fully bend your knees, and only press using short, incomplete strokes, you will be able to lift more.
But if you fully bend your knees and come back up, you will see that the leg press is actually a pretty challenging exercise, so be careful how much you load on the leg press.
But remember, it’s better to start lower and complete the FULL range of motion, than to load up a bunch of plates and do the exercise halfway.
Is the Leg Press Bad for Your Knees?
Any weight-bearing leg exercise can hurt your knees if done improperly.
The most injury comes from overloading the machine with weight and using poor form.
This is also true for free barbell squats and other leg exercises, not just the leg press.
It is important to start with less weight than you can actually handle and work up. Listen to your body, knee pain means something is wrong. Check your form and lower your weight, or stop, if you experience knee pain.
Are Vertical Leg Press Machines any Good?
Vertical leg press machines have their pros and cons. They are limited as far as max weight, most can only be used for up to 400 or 500 lbs of weight.
Plus, you lie really close to the ground in a horizontal position, and some people find that uncomfortable.
Vertical leg presses are extremely economical, use very little space, and honestly, they get the job done when it comes to building leg muscles, so they are good for the right person and application, in my opinion.
Is the Leg Press Machine the Same as Squats?
No. Leg press machines isolate the leg muscles and the weight follows a predefined path. Leg presses, in a sense, are easier than squats. But they do not strengthen core and stabilizing muscles like squats do.
Free barbell squats take focus, must be done with good form, and have more potential for injury. But they do strengthen and work core and stabilizer muscles.
I recommend you include both squats and leg press in your routine.
Reap The Benefits – Conclusion
Now that you are are aware of the top picks for the best leg press machines, its time to make your decision.
You know building strong legs is important, and the leg press is a great tool to use to build thick, substantial legs you can be proud of. No more hiding under baggy long shorts!
If you care about how your legs look, you will not regret the purchase of the best leg press machines for home gyms. As I have shown, there are quality products available on the market that will help you build the strong foundation necessary for real strength.
Don’t wait any longer!
Make the investment today, begin seeing real gains, and reap the benefits of an in-home leg press machine.
Looking for an all in one home gym that includes a leg press? If you want to have it all, an all in one home gym may be the way to go.
I have a list of all in one home gyms and several of them include the best home gym with leg press machines. Check them out!
While you are searching for home gym equipment, you might be interested in this article I wrote about power racks. Power racks are a must-have piece of gym equipment if you want to lift heavy from home, safely.
If you love reading about gear and equipment reviews or home gym related news, don’t forget to subscribe to the Garage Gym Power newsletter and always get notified when new reviews come out.