This article is a detailed leg press machine buying guide. It is intended to help you provide all the necessary details that you may need to choose the perfect equipment for your home gym. I have briefly explained the types of leg press machines, their uses, benefits, noteworthy features, and the technology they use. This information will help you understand what to expect from a product before buying it.
In this article, I have also shared brief reviews of the 5 best leg press machines that I strongly recommend. I have selected each of them to cater to a specific group of trainers, based on various budgets and various training needs.
Before I begin, I would like to inform you that I have already created a list of the best bumper plates, in case you are looking for them to add to your leg press machine. You may also be interested in our latest articles on the best weight training exercises for cyclists, best squat racks for home gyms, and best weightlifting shoes that you would need to keep your knees safe during leg press.
Let's get started with the list now.
Our Top Picks
- ROGUE ISO Leg Press 35– Best high-end leg press machine
- Valor Fitness CC-10 Home Gym Vertical Leg Press Machine– The best vertical leg press machine
- Titan Fitness Leg Press Hack Squat Machine– Best option for heavy lifting
- Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press and Hack Squat Machine– A commercial-grade option
- TDS 4-Way Hip Sled leg press machine– The most versatile option
Our list of the best leg press machines for home gyms
👑 The Premium Pick: ROGUE ISO Leg Press 35
Weighing 708lbs, this product is a beast and is not meant for everyone. I recommend it only for advanced trainers, athletes, bodybuilders, military persons, etc.
The Rogue ISO 35 leg press machine has four weight sleeves that can hold 2475lbs of weight. It also has 4 additional weight storage pegs so you can easily store your competition bumper plates.
Other than its impressive weight capacity, I really admire the idea of adding a unilateral/bilateral feature to it. This means, you can either train both the legs together or lock one of the footplates and train just one leg. Most of the other machines do not offer this feature. So you can still train with one leg but you will have to put your leg at the center of the footplate. If you do that your legs will move in an unnatural way and end up getting strained or injured.
Another thing I like about this Rogue leg press machine is that it has huge footplates. Your feet are not restricted to a very limited space, so you can try different positions and target different muscles in different ways!
A few other things that I really admire are its huge footprint, linear ball bearings for flawless movement, adjustable backrest, and adjustable spring safety stops.
There is nothing much that I dislike about the Rogue ISO 35 leg press machine. But, please note that it is a made to order product, so it could take up to 6 weeks to be shipped. This wait time could make you lose your patience. Further, it comes fully assembled, which is a good thing but since the machine weighs 700+ lbs, you will need help (probably a forklift) for carrying it to your home gym.
We are giving this a rating of 4.7 out of 5.0.
Valor Fitness CC-10 Home Gym Vertical Leg Press Machine– The best vertical leg press machine
If you found the Rogue leg press machine too expensive and extremely overwhelming, I would recommend this CC-10 leg press machine from Valor Fitness. It is a pretty basic machine available for around $500. There are rarely any cheaper options available than this one. So, if you are just getting started or need something basic to improve your leg strength, this should be a good option.
Please note that it is a vertical leg press machine. Your body will remain in a declining position on the backrest pushing the blood towards your brain. If you have any health issues for which this is not recommended, you should look for other options that I have listed here.
Now, there are two major problems that you may experience with this Valor Fitness CC-10 machine and with almost all vertical leg press machines. It is not quite easy to get in and out of the machine. Plus, you may need some time to get adjusted to leg pressing from a decline position. These are not major issues but you should know what to expect before buying.
Talking about the machine, it has a comparatively compact footprint so it can be accommodated in small home gyms, especially basement home gyms, shed home gyms, and shipping container home gyms (yes, that's possible). It is rated for 400lbs max, which is more than enough for recreational trainers and people recovering from injuries. There are three weight pegs to hold the plates. The machine comes with olympic sleeve adapters so you can use both 1” and 2” plates on it.
Valor Fitness CC-10 vertical leg press machine needs assembly. Now, just like any affordable product, the assembly instructions you will get are quite vague. But, don’t worry; it is not that difficult to put it together unless you have never assembled anything.
We are giving this a rating of 4.7 out of 5.0.
Titan Fitness Leg Press Hack Squat Machine– Best option for heavy lifting
As obvious from its name, this is a 2-in-1 machine that can be used for hack squats as well.
Titan Fitness sells a vertical leg press machine and it's one of its top-rated products. However, I chose this one to be a part of my list of best leg press machines because it is much more versatile. If you have a compact home gym, you would obviously want to buy products that can be used in various ways.
Titan Fitness hack squat leg press machine weighs 325lbs and is rated for 1000 lbs, making it suitable for almost everyone, even advanced trainers. The overall build quality is quite impressive considering its low cost. Numerous buyers have agreed that the mechanism is pretty smooth, so you won’t experience any lag or jerks. The position of the backrest is not adjustable but that's OK because it is a genuinely-priced product.
There are two weight posts that you can load with olympic plates for both leg press and hack squats. The machine also has two storage posts so you can keep your weights organized. The handles can be set in three different positions and yet, they could sometimes be difficult to access, specifically for people who are shorter than 5.2’.
Titan Fitness leg press machine requires assembly and you will need someone to help you with that.
We are giving this a rating of 4.8 out of 5.0.
Body-Solid GLPH1100 Leg Press and Hack Squat Machine– A commercial-grade option
This leg press machine can also be converted to a hack squat machine within just a few seconds. The back pad as well as the footrest has flip-lock design that lets you convert it to the desired design quickly.
It has a heavy-duty 2” X 4” 11 gauge steel frame that can bear up to 1000 lbs weight, making it suitable for rigorous use in home gyms and at semi-commercial and commercial places. The quad-track rollers are as smooth as linear ball bearings and help distribute the weight evenly, so no matter how hard or heavy you are training, you won’t experience any lag.
The Body-Solid GLPH1100 leg press machine has just two weight sleeves but the sleeves are longer and can accommodate enough bumper plates to challenge you. Due to its small footprint, it doesn’t come with any storage pegs so you need to buy a plate storage rack separately in case you don’t have a squat rack with weight storage pegs. For your safety, there are three lock-out positions that can be used for pressing as well as for squatting.
This leg press machine comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
What I don’t like about it is the sketchy assembly instructions. The Body-Solid leg press machine is not a low-cost product, so I expected it to come fully assembled. At least the manufacturer should have tried to create a thorough assembly guide. Some buyers have also stated that the footplate is small and doesn’t give you enough space to try different variations. This is a personal choice though.
We are giving this a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0.
TDS 4-Way Hip Sled leg press machine– The most versatile option
This is the more affordable alternative to the Body-Solid hack squat leg press machine I have reviewed above. As you can guess, this one can also be used for various other purposes such as hack squats, calf raises, and forward thrusts.
This leg press machine has 8 wheels that together help provide a smooth operation, even when you are training with heavy weights. The manufacturer claims that each wheel is rated for 750lbs and this leg press machine can be used for training with upto 1000lbs. The machine has a compact footprint and yet it weighs 300lbs, which provides a highly stable setup for hardcore training.
TDS hack squat leg press machine requires assembly and the major problem that most buyers have experienced is the lack of detailed assembly instructions. The diagram included is pretty explanatory though but you should know what to expect from your purchase.
Another common issue that buyers have mentioned in their reviews is the size of the footplate. It is pretty small so you may not be able to do wide stance leg press. The footplate doesn’t have enough texture to give you a good grip, especially if you are planning to go barefoot. So, obviously, it isn’t as good as the other best leg press machines I have reviewed above but if you need something basic and affordable, it won’t disappoint you.
We are giving this a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0.
Best leg press machine buying guide
Types of Leg Press Machines
As you can see in the image above, they are of three types, depending on the direction in which you do the leg press.
Horizontal leg press machines
Also known as seated leg press machines, they work more like a rowing machine. I do not recommend horizontal leg press machines because no matter how careful you are, you will end up curving your back while trying to push the weights away from you, which could strain your neck and back.
Vertical leg press machines
These are cheaper, compact machines. They are not designed to hold a lot of weight. Plus, they are so basic that most of them do not have a decent backrest. But, vertical leg press machines are a good option for beginners, people recovering from injuries and need something temporary, and those who are on a low budget.
45 degree leg press machines
This is the most common type. It can handle high weight loads and is highly recommended for people who are quite serious about their fitness. But, please note that vertical leg press machines are quite expensive and require a decent amount of space.
I personally prefer vertical leg press machines because they provide the most natural movement of the legs and knees. No matter how heavy you train, you can never go wrong with them, provided you follow the safety measures.
Features to look for while buying a leg press machine
Smoothness of operation
The way the footplate moves up and down can make a lot of difference to your training. If it gets stuck, you will experience lag and discomfort. Plus, you may end up straining your muscles in the long run. That's why it is important to choose a leg press machine that provides a smooth pressing motion along with even weight distribution, so you don’t feel additional pressure on any leg.
Such machines usually have linear ball bearings that help minimize friction and ensure that there is an absolutely smooth movement irrespective of the weight loaded on the machine.
Just in case you don’t know, high-end barbells too use linear bearing to provide you a lag-free sleeve rotation.
The cushioning of the backrest is a crucial feature because unless your back is comfortable, you won’t feel like doing the next rep or even using the leg press machine at all.
Most of the products included in my list of best leg press machines have thick but firm paddings in the backrest. Plus, the backrest is ergonomically contoured to provide adequate support to your neck as well as the entire back. Some leg press machines come with separate shoulder pads. Some of them have adjustable backrests, so you can adjust the angle as per your comfort.
Weight load capacity
Maybe you are not lifting a lot of weight today but if you rather take your fitness quite seriously, you could start lifting much more within no time. So, make sure you buy a leg press machine that you won’t outgrow anytime soon.
Leg press machines are pretty expensive, so it makes sense to buy a machine that could last a lifetime.
Advantages of using a leg press machine
The biggest reason why people often take up leg press is because it is even more challenging than squats and yet much safer.
If you have poor hip or ankle flexibility, stability and balance issues, or back problems due to which you can’t squat, leg press is a safer alternative. It can help you strengthen your leg muscles and counter age-related muscle loss. It also reduces the risk of injury that could happen if you lose your balance while squatting.
Squatting with heavy weights is difficult and risky but doing leg press is easy and safer. Most leg press machines have safety stoppers so even if you miss a rep, the weight won’t come down crashing on you below a certain point.
Safety tips to keep in mind while using a leg press machine
Image courtesy: Bodybuilding.com
Leg press machines are pretty safe but here are a few things that you need to keep in mind while using them:
- Most good quality leg press machines have handles on the sides of the seat. You are supposed to hold these handles so you don’t end up curving your back and neck.
- Do not keep your hands on the knees and use this pressure to lift weight. Let the legs do the work.
- You must keep your back flat on the backrest without forming any curve anywhere.
- Go light and train with only enough weight that will challenge you slightly instead of making you feel exhausted for the next rep.
- Do not fully extend your legs and lock your knees. This is the most common mistake people make. When you lock the knees you take the pressure off from the leg muscles and shift it on the knee joints. But, you are not supposed to do that. The muscles should be under constant pressure throughout the workout. Plus, when you shift the pressure on the knee joint, you increase the chances of knee injury and even long-term damage.
Leg press machine FAQs
What muscles do leg press machines work?
Well, you can pretty much guess the answer.
Leg press helps target the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and the hip adductors. The calves and shin muscles also get a generous amount of workout.
One thing you must know here is that the placement of your feet on the leg press machine can significantly affect the way you target a specific muscle group. Read my article on ‘the 5 different leg press foot placements and their benefits’ for more details.
Which is the best leg press machine?
The 45-degree leg press machine is a better option than the other two because it provides the most natural/neutral movement of legs and knees. It can also help improve ankle flexibility.
If you have a low budget, you may go with the vertical ones but please learn that they are only meant for lightweight training.
Is leg press as good as squats?
Leg press is a heavy-duty workout but it isn’t as good as squats.
Squatting requires you to use your balancing and stabilizing muscles. It also involves a lot of coordination between muscles. Leg press, however, does not require any use of these muscles.
No matter how heavy you are lifting, at the end of the day, you must focus on improving your balance and coordination to protect yourself from falls and injuries. So, yes, if you can squat, you must squat. Or maybe, do both!
Should you fully extend your legs while using a leg press machine?
As I have mentioned above, no you must not fully extend your legs and lock your knees while leg pressing. If you lock your knees, you will end up transfering the weight and the pressure to the knee joints. This could strain your knees or may even cause long-term damage. So, make sure you do not push the footplate all the way up.
And, this concludes my article on the best leg press machines for home gyms. I hope this article was insightful enough to answer all your queries but if you still have any doubt, do not hesitate to get in touch with me through email or simply leave a comment.
If you are setting up a home gym or already have one that needs some improvement, you may be interested in reading my articles on How Much Space Do You Need for a Home Gym, How to Build an Affordable Home Gym, What Color Should You Paint a Home Gym, How To Have the Best Home Gym Lighting, and many more.