If you have the budget and the space, the leg press machine can be a valuable addition to your garage or home gym. The right piece of equipment can work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves and and be a versatile part of your leg training.
The best leg press machines for sale depends on your personal preference, but there are recommendations below. Price, performance, and durability all are important factors when making a buying decision.
Our picks for the best home leg press machine
Vertical, Plate loaded
Angled, Plate loaded
Horizontal, Both Available
What to look for in a leg press
There are dozens of different models of leg press machines out there, which come in all different shapes and sizes. The best model for someone else may not be the best model for your situation.
Only you know what your budget for the item is, and how much room you have to store it. Most commercial products will be well over $1000, but there are a few options out there in the $300 range.
You will also have to look at other factors that are specific to you. Weight capacity, dimensions, and warranty information are all important. After all, what good is a cheap machine if you can't add enough resistance to challenge yourself?
Warranty information is crucial. Putting money towards your own workout facilities is an investment in yourself. Machines are a big commitment. You'll want to know that it is made with quality, and if it isn't you'll want to make sure you can get it replaced.
Comfort is something else that can't be overlooked. If you are significantly bigger or smaller than "average", you'll want to make sure people of your size can fit and use the machine to its full capacity.
Also remember to factor in shipping cost. With big pieces of equipment like this, some retailers will gouge you on shipping costs. Always factor shipping into the total cost. If you are picking up the item yourself, make sure you have a vehicle that can handle it.
Plate loaded vs. machine resistance
If you are looking for a leg press machine for personal use, you are likely looking for a plate loaded version. While adjustable machines are nice, they are usually made for commercial gyms because of their sheer cost, which would start at around $1500.
If you have a decent setup in your house or garage already, plate loaded probably isn't a big deal. If you already have a weight plate set, you can add the resistance yourself. This saves you money on buying the machine and floor space, as machines with resistance included are much bulkier.
If you don't already have a set of plates or you need to get more, this is an extra expense that you have to factor in. The good news is that quality weight plates will last a while and there is no reason you can't reuse them for your barbell training.
Vertical vs. Horizontal
Most people are used to horizontal leg press machines, because that is the one you commonly see in commercial fitness centers. While that might make sense for some facilities, a vertical press might actually be more advantageous for a home or garage gym setup.
The setup of a vertical leg press has huge advantages when it comes to saving space. Because you are pushing the weight up and not out, they are much more compact when it comes to planning out floor space. Most people are more concerned with floor space over anything else when it comes to setting up a home gym.
How to use
Using proper technique and following all of the safety precautions is crucial when using your leg press machine. If you are used to using a horizontal or angled machine, vertical presses may be tricky, but they are easy once you get the hang of it.
You begin with your back lying on the mat, your feet on the bar, and your knees towards your chest. From there, you press up with your feet and unlock the safety bars. Then, you are ready to perform the movement.
As every home leg press machine is different, make sure you thoroughly read the owner's manual and heed all safety recommendations. You never want to put yourself in a vulnerable position when there is weight above you.
You will also want to double and triple-check the equipment before and after each use to make sure all nuts and bolts are in the right place and safely fastened. You should do this regardless of whether you or someone else assembled it.
Make sure you work hard to maintain your machine. Even if you are the only person using it, they can wear down quickly if you aren't careful. Your owner's manual should be filled with information on how to provide preventative care.
Exercises you can perform
- Wide vs. Close stance presses
- High vs. Low stance presses
- Calf presses
While you might only think of traditional leg presses when you think of these machines, it only makes sense that you should be able to perform other strength training movements when you buy a piece of equipment.
By varying your stance on the machine, you can target your muscles in different ways. A wide stance will work your inner thighs more, while a closer stance will target the outer portions. A stance with your feet high on the machine will incorporate your glutes and hamstrings more, buy by placing your feet relatively lower, your quad muscles will do most of the work.
Calves are another muscle group that can be worked on the most machines. Depending on the setup, you can place the balls of your feet on the bottom of the machine and press from there. This often makes a great superset with leg presses because you are already on the machine.
Any other exercises are based on the machine you are using. Some can double for other items or allow you to add accessory movements, but that is pretty rare with a leg press.
If these machines are a little out of your price range, you can still get in similar exercise in your home gym with less expensive equipment. While not as user-friendly or adjustable, you do have a couple cheap options that you might want to try.
- Lying leg press
- Seated leg press
Lying or seated leg presses can be accomplished by using a resistance band. While they are much more challenging than a machine, they might be your best bet if you are on a tight budget. You can see a technical description of the non-machine versions here.
If you are going to be doing this exercise a lot, you may want to consider the total cost of the bands. While any one resistance band might not be that pricey, it can add up quickly if you outgrow them after one or two training sessions and need to get one with higher resistance.
There are also other alternative exercises you can try to replace the leg press altogether. While each requires some piece of equipment, barbells and dumbbells can be much more versatile than any single machine.
- Back squats
- Step ups
- Front squats
- Bulgarian split squats
- Hack squats
These exercises copy the major ideas behind the leg press, but no other movement can perfectly replicate what it does. They also incorporate other muscle groups, which can be a problem if you are hoping to isolate the legs.
The Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg press might be the most popular home leg press machine available. At around $300, it is easily the best value of the machines listed.
The vertical setup of it allow you to save space in your home or garage gym. The dimensions are listed as 46 x 48 x 60 inches, meaning it takes up much less space than horizontal versions.
While it does not come with any machine loaded resistance, you can add weight plates up to its 400 pound capacity.
It also comes with thick back pad, as well as a pad for the neck and head. The frame comes with a 10 year warranty, while all other parts have a one year warranty. Powerline is a quality company that is very respected in the fitness industry
The best home leg press machine for you depends on your budget and goals. While there are many options for sale, this review should help point you in the right direction. A good machine will be a valuable tool on your leg training days and add much needed variety to your routine.