How to leg press without a machine

How to leg press without a machineLeg press machines can be a pricey piece of equipment and not all home or commercial gyms have one.  Luckily, there are several ways to do the leg press without a machine.

The exercises below mimic the basic premise of the leg press machine by targeting the quad muscles and challenging the lower body. They can be done with a similar set and rep scheme as what you have in your program for traditional machine presses.

Resistance bands can actually be a great alternative to help you perform leg presses as they are very versatile. They are also relatively inexpensive, so you can get several different types to have plenty of different variety to choose from.

Lying Resistance Band Leg Press

The video below shows how you can use a resistance band to perform leg presses instead of using a machine. You simply sit down on a soft surface like a yoga mat and wrap the band around the center of your feet. You then move back so your back is on the ground and your feet are out in what essentially looks like a lying squat position. Then, you press up with your legs.

This is a pretty simple and inexpensive way to use leg presses, especially if you already own a set of resistance bands. To vary the resistance, you can either use a different band or change your grip so the resistance is increased. This lift can also be performed using one leg at a time instead of two.

Seated Resistance Band Single Leg Press

Seated band leg presses are very similar to the lying version of the exercise, they are obviously just done while sitting. To do these, you will need a sturdy surface to sit on such as a chair or weight bench.

You perform this exercise by placing the band around one of your feet while sitting down with good posture and holding the band close to you. Your knee should be up and just in front of your chest. From there, you press the leg out.

This can also be done with 2 legs, although it may be tricky to balance unless you are leaning against the chair back. Again, you can vary the resistance by using a different band or by changing your grip. You can see what it looks like in the video below.

Dumbbell Squat

The dumbbell squat is another exercise that mimics the feeling and muscles used in the leg press without using a machine. You stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a good posture, with dumbbells by your side. From their you lower yourself by squatting and then drive your legs to stand up. To help with balance and establish a good posture, you can put the dumbbells slightly in front of you, as you can see demonstrated in the video below.

Varying the resistance on this is easy because you can just switch the weight of the dumbbell.

Rather than looking for non-machine options, you could choose to do an entirely different exercise. There are plenty of other great alternative exercises for the leg press out there. If your training program is flexible enough, you should be able to do lifts like back squats, front squats, step ups, Bulgarian split squats, hack squats, or many other exercises in place of the leg press.

These exercises may come with other benefits as well. Any free weight exercises, like squats and step ups, will force you to use activate other muscles groups, such as your core. So rather than just isolating you legs, you are getting a functional, full-body movement in.

If you are trying to isolate your lower body though, or want to use the leg press a supplement to the above exercises, then you may look for a different alternative. For pure quad or hamstring isolation, you may need to choose something else.

The leg press machine is a popular piece of equipment for adding muscle size and strength in the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. If you enjoy the exercise, you can get most of the benefits of it by performing the movements above without having to use a fancy piece of commercial equipment.

Photo By: robertstinnett

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