The leg press machine is one of the pieces of equipment that fitness enthusiasts are the most excited to add to their home gyms.
Most models are easy for beginners to use, but they also can handle lots of weight for more advanced fitness enthusiasts. These machines optimize each rep to build optimal lower body strength safely. Strong legs and glutes look great, but they also help you run faster and jump higher.
If you’re considering adding a leg press machine to your home gym, you should first consider the differences between a leg press machine and a squat machine, as both work similar muscle groups and have similar benefits. Then, you’ll want to compare the different types of leg press machines available, and then compare the features on each model.
In this article, we’ll take you through all of these steps so you have the information you need to choose the right leg press machine for your home gym.
When using a leg press machine, the user typically sits in a semi-reclined position, places their feet on a platform, and uses their leg muscles to push the platform forward with their feet until their legs are almost fully extended (not locked). The plates or platforms are weighted with barbells or a weight stack.
This movement works muscles including the quadriceps (“quads”) in the front of the thigh, the hamstrings of the back of the thigh, the gluteus muscles (“glutes”) of your backside, and, to a lesser degree, your calf muscles.
You can vary your foot position to engage different muscles as you do the exercise.
The leg press and the squat are essentially the same exercises. What’s different is the position of the weights. In a leg press, the weights are pushed forward by the feet, and in a squat, they’re resting on the shoulders and you push them up by fully standing up.
Experts continue to debate the benefits and drawbacks of traditional strength training on machines vs. functional training exercises.
Strength training machines, leg press machines included, squats included, tend to focus on very specific movements and muscles. On the other hand, functional training exercises allow the person exercising more freedom to emulate how they’d naturally move in real life. For example, people have to squat multiple times throughout the day to bend and pick things up off the floor. Functional exercises also tend to engage more muscles at once. A weighted squat exercise also engages your core, back and hips, in addition to the muscles in your legs and backside.
For that reason, many fitness experts advise incorporating both exercises into a fitness routine. The leg press can help beginners establish greater leg strength before someone moves on to weighted squats. Machines also have the benefit of reducing potential injury or wear and tear that are more common with less restricted exercises — namely, it’s much more difficult to injure your back on a leg press machine than it is on a squat rack. Finally, leg press may help those who are looking to even out their training by focusing on, say, quads if their hamstrings are already strong from another exercise, such as running.
If you want to learn more about squats and squat racks,check out our ultimate guide here.
There are two types of leg press machines commonly seen in commercial gyms, and a third that is relatively rare but has some benefits. Let’s explore each type.
Before you make a final selection on your leg press machine, make sure that your purchase is protected by a warranty. What would you have to do to return the machine? How would the retailer or manufacturer handle things if the machine arrives damaged or defective? You may also want to invest in professional delivery and installation, especially if you end up choosing a larger or heavier model.
At Strength Warehouse USA, we’re committed to supporting our customers throughout each purchase they make. We guarantee our products and offer delivery and installation services, even for the largest pieces of equipment.
If you’re ready to start comparing specific models of leg press machines, check out our suggestions:The Best Leg Press Machines of 2021. You can also check our full collection of leg press machines here:Leg Press and Squat Machines