The leg press is one exercise that heavily divides opinion among gym-goers. Many swear by it for providing maximum stimulation to the glutes, hamstrings, and quads despite a short range of motion. Others believe that the free weight squat is superior in terms of muscle activation as well as preventing the lumbar injuries leg presses can cause.
When it comes to performing leg presses safely, the build and quality of your machine becomes highly relevant. This article lays out some of the best leg press machines you can buy to help you get the most out of this exercise.
Best Leg Press Machines At a Glance
Best Leg Press Machines Overall
The Body-Solid GLPH1100 is the epitome of premium leg presses. It lets you perform three different exercises at a maximum of 1000 lbs. while also possessing key safety features such as rotating handrails and a reinforced back support. The only major drawback is that the assembly instructions are somewhat unintelligible.
Best Value Leg Press Machine
Titan’s Leg Press offers many of the features that the Body-Solid GLPH1100 does, but at a fraction of the cost. You can use it to perform both leg presses and hack squats at a maximum weight of 875 lbs. It has many of its predecessors’ safety features, and is even similar in size.
Best Budget Leg Press Machine
Vertical leg presses might not be the norm, but this one packs some serious punch. Not only does it provide additional back and knee support, but also fits into the smallest of home gyms due to its small size. If you’re low on funds, this machine is made for you.
The Best Leg Press Machines
|Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press & Hack Squat||
|Titan Fitness Leg Press Hack Squat Machine||
|Body-Solid Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg Press||
|Force USA Compact Leg Press||
|Force USA Monster Ultimate 45 Degree Leg Press/Hack Squat Combo||
|Bodycraft F660 Leg Press/Hip Sled||
|Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press & Hack Squat|
|Titan Fitness Leg Press Hack Squat Machine|
|Body-Solid Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg Press|
|Force USA Compact Leg Press|
|Force USA Monster Ultimate 45 Degree Leg Press/Hack Squat Combo|
|Bodycraft F660 Leg Press/Hip Sled|
The Body-Solid GLPH1100 has the best of all worlds: functionality, safety, and convenience. It allows you to do not just one exercise, but three of them. Once you’ve assembled the product, you can use it to perform leg presses, hack squats, or calf raises. While the product manual mentions only the former two, you could use the flip and lock mechanism on the back support to perform the third as well.
Additionally, this product is designed to ensure maximum safety while performing exercises. You can adjust the back support to avoid discomfort. The weights are placed under the machine to prevent mishaps, and the machine comes with rotating handrails on both sides to help control the weight. The machine can support 1000 lbs., but to be able to stack that much weight you’ll need to purchase the 100 pound Olympic plates to fit four on each side of the bar.
Lastly, the build of the machine is not as bulky as many other models. With dimensions of 56” H x 83” L x 34” W, this unit can easily fit into most home gyms and will take up only a little more space than a squat rack would.
The Body-Solid GLPH1100 has been one of the most favourably reviewed leg press machines on the market, and it remains the best option for anyone looking to develop their glutes, hamstrings, and quads in a safe manner.
- Solid build with several safety features to prevent injuries
- Allows you to perform calf raises along with the leg press and hack squat.
- Size is compact and suitable for most home gyms.
- Contoured padding adds extra support for the lower back
The Not So Good
- Assembly instructions are vague and difficult to follow.
- The plate loading bar is shorter than some other machines.
This machine from Titan Fitness is yet another unit that allows you to perform both leg presses and hack squats, but at an unbelievably affordable price. The machine comes with a sturdy frame, a capacity of 875 lbs. that most will struggle to exceed, and rollers that move as smoothly as velvet.
Like the Body-Solid GLPH1100, this unit comes with rotating handrails to help you quickly rest the weight on supports after reaching failure. The weights are similarly placed under the sled as well. However, this machine comes with two posts for racking weights unlike the previous model.
Due to the lower weight capacity on this machine, it is sometimes wrongly billed as an option that is more suitable for beginners. Even if you’ve been working out for a while, this machine is sure to get the job done, especially since it supports Olympic plates on both the loading bar as well as the posts made for storage.
With dimensions of 53”H x 84”L x 40” W, this machine is similar in size to the unit sold by Body-Solid—making it a solid option for home gyms. It might not have the same polish as some of the higher end models, but this unit is guaranteed to provide the most bang for your buck.
- Available at an extremely affordable price for a machine that lets you perform hack squats.
- Possesses several safety features such as rotating handrails
- Comes with two posts for convenient plate storage and access.
- Allows you to effortlessly switch between a leg press and hack squat
The Not So Good
- Might be unsuitable for professional bodybuilders due to its lower weight capacity compared to other models
Most gyms don’t have a vertical leg press, but this variant of the traditional 45 degree machine has one big advantage over its alternatives. The angle of the exercise here provides your knees, hips and back with additional support that the horizontal and 45 degree leg presses don’t offer. This is especially relevant for older bodybuilders in their mid to late thirties who might suffer from pain in those areas. However, the fact that it occupies minimal space and is by far the most affordable leg press on this list makes it worth considering for everyone.
Vertical leg presses are almost always cheaper than standard presses, and that’s certainly the case with the Powerline leg press. Nevertheless it remains sturdy and safe to use even at maximum weight.
With dimensions of 61”H x 46” L x 48” W, this machine is ideal for anyone who has limited room to spare for a leg press or is on a tight budget.
- Additional back, knee, and hip support compared to other types of leg presses.
- Compact size
- Is the best option in its price range
The Not So Good
- Maximum weight of 400 lbs. makes it more suitable for beginner and intermediate bodybuilders.
As the name suggests, Force USA’s Compact Leg Press is another machine for those with spatial constraints in their home gyms. The sled lies at an angle of 30 degrees from the floor, which might be unfamiliar to some users. Thankfully, the product comes with a lifetime structural warranty as well as a 30 day money-back guarantee if you’re dissatisfied with the unit. Be warned, however, you most likely won’t want to return it.
That’s because this machine allows you to perform both standing leg presses and calf raises with a maximum weight of 660 lbs. It has four adjustable stop positions, a safety lever for quick bailouts, and can be used with standard or Olympic plates. It also supports band pegs for better muscle gains through the ascending strength curve it creates. Lastly, its measly dimensions of 65” H x 65” L x 52” W fully justify its name.
- Comes with lifetime structural warranty and 30-day money back guarantee
- Performs both leg presses and calf raises
- Supports band pegs
The Not So Good
- Cannot be used by anyone taller than 6’ 6”.
Force USA’s premium leg press machine takes everything good about their Compact Leg Press and manages to improve it further. In addition to leg presses and calf raises, you can perform hack squats with this unit. The maximum weight has been increased to 1000 lbs. while retaining support for band pegs and a structural lifetime warranty. Users up to 7 feet tall can use the machine comfortably, and there is an extra stop position to increase the total to five from four. The only catch is the price, which is significantly higher than others on the list.
Given the functionality this machine offers, it’s no surprise that the unit is large in size. With dimensions of 60” H x 66” W x 94” L, it demands considerable free space for storage. However, the space you lose in storing this can be covered up through the four plate horns that come with the unit. Overall, if you’re looking for the best home leg press money can buy, this machine is well worth considering.
- Allows you to perform leg presses, hack squats, and calf raises
- Maximum weight of 1000 lbs. with band compatibility makes it suitable for all types of bodybuilders
- The back seat comes with commercial grade padding for extra comfort.
The Not So Good
- Not suitable for users shorter than 5’ 7”
Having said that, there are two major points to remember before purchasing this machine. At close to 380 lbs., the unit is fairly heavy and tough to move around. Secondly, it’s the most expensive machine on the list and may be too dear for many people despite its unmatched versatility.
- Lets you perform four exercises: leg presses, hack squats, calf raises, and donkey calf raises
- Industrial grade bearings improve its longevity
- Adjustable shoulder pads accommodate users of different heights
The Not So Good
- It’s expensive
Should You Get a Leg Press Machines?
A leg press machine can easily run you thousands of dollars, and it is always wise to ask whether such a large investment is likely to give you a significant return. In this section we look at some of the reasons why you may or may not want to take the plunge and spend heavily on equipment for this exercise.
Why you should consider getting a leg press
They’re suitable for those recovering from injuries, as well as professionals:The triple extension of the knees, ankles, and hip joint that the leg press demands means that athletes recovering from injuries such as knee replacement can perform leg presses with ease compared to other demanding leg exercises.
While the squat is often cited as a better exercise, one can perform moves like the single-leg press to isolate the quads, glutes, or hamstrings. With enough weight, performing more than a few reps of this exercise in full range of motion will be challenging for even the most advanced
They’re effective for fat loss as well as muscle growth:Leg presses can help you lose weight, as well as build muscle due to the way the machine is built. Exercises like the leg press tabata are easier to perform on a machine due to the stability it offers, and the ease of use. This stability also makes the conventional leg press an exercise you can overload with weight, making it optimal for muscle growth.
You want to involve more muscles in your exercises: This is one area where the leg press can’t beat the squat. Along with employing more muscles in the legs, the squat also utilises the abs, torso, etc. This provides a more well-rounded workout that avoids muscle imbalances.
Why you might want to skip the leg press
Choosing the Right Leg Press Machines
Now that we’ve listed six of the best leg presses on the market, here are five factors to consider before selecting the best one for you: your age, height, training proficiency, budget, and machine size.
If you’re in your mid-to-late thirties or older, you might have started experiencing pain in some critical areas that are exercised by a leg press. If so, it is crucial for you to purchase equipment with adequate support to your back, hips, knees, etc. to avoid exacerbating any issues.
Some machines only support users of certain heights, and it is imperative to ensure that the machine you’re buying is comfortable to use for someone of your height.
If you’re an experienced bodybuilder who has been lifting for years, the low maximum weight capacity of some machines might be unsuitable for your training regimen. The lowest on this list is 400 lbs., but if you’re a beginner or intermediate trainee, it will take you a fair while to reach that milestone.
Budget is perhaps the most important factor to consider. You will come across leg presses of all designs and prices on the market, but not all of them are worth buying. Chiefly, this is because leg presses contain several moving parts, and it is essential for these bearings to be of good quality. With leg presses, the saying that you get what you pay for is doubly true, and if you’re committed to leg workouts for the long-term, it might be worth making a one-time investment to ensure safety and quality.
The size of your machine becomes relevant if you do not have much space to store your leg press. Vertical leg presses generally occupy less space and are less expensive than conventional presses, making them ideal for anyone with a small home or garage gym and / or a strict budget
Frequently Asked Questions About Leg Press Machines
Are leg presses as effective as squats?
It depends. Squats are preferred by many because they work more muscles (stabiliser muscles, posterior chain, core, etc.) Some studies also show that squats offer better core, quad, and hamstring activation. However, in some cases, the leg press might be more effective. These include if you’re a beginner and haven’t developed enough strength for an overloaded squat, or if you’re returning from injuries to any area worked by the leg press. For best results, include both in your workout.
Are vertical leg press machines any good?
Yes, vertical leg presses are no different from other types and work the same muscles with equivalent amounts of activation. In fact, vertical leg presses can sometimes provide better back and knee support from lying flat and parallel to the floor.
How much should I leg press?
This depends on your level of proficiency. If you’re a beginner, you can leg press a maximum of four times a week on alternate days to allow your muscles to rest and grow appropriately. However, as a general rule for beginners to advanced bodybuilders, performing leg presses twice a week is optimal for strength or hypertrophy gains.
While 75% of your 1 repetition maximum load with 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions is considered ideal for strength and size growth, you can increase that number to 80-90% for leg presses. This is because you utilise multiple joints in the leg press, allowing for greater force from their coordination.
Will leg press make my bum (glutes) bigger?
Yes, the glutes are one of the many muscles involved in performing a leg press. Place your feet high and wide on the footplate for maximum growth.
Well, there you have it: The Best Leg Press Machines
This list will provide you with a variety of options suitable for many different types of users. If money is no barrier and you want the very best home leg press, opt for the BodySolid GLPH1100 for its versatility, safety, and quality. However, if you want the best option in the lowest price range, consider the Body-Solid Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg Press.