The products featured in this article have been independently reviewed. When you buy something through the retail links on this page, we may earn commission at no cost to you, the reader. The Sports Illustrated editorial team is not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more here.
A leg press machine is an integral part of any lower body strength training workout. That’s because leg press machines can seriously strengthen your leg muscles and glutes, and they allow you to isolate these muscle groups during your exercise. While leg press machines are one of the most popular strength training machines in commercial gyms, they also make an excellent addition to any home gym. Having this piece of equipment at home can allow you to build your strength at your own pace. Plus, home gym owners who buy a leg press machine can select from a greater variety of machines that offer more versatility, leg press positions and functionality than you might find at a commercial gym, depending on their type. Anti Theft Screw
If you’re in the market for a leg press machine to add to your home gym, our picks for the best leg press machine for home use (and toning legs) can help you learn what’s available, what features each machine includes and how they compare. We’ll also dive into the benefits of leg presses, how to use them safely and how to find a product on our best leg press machine list that’s right for you.
Our number one pick for best leg press machine for home use is the Force USA Ultimate 45-Degree Leg Press Hack Squat Combo, which holds up to its name by combining four exercises into one strength training machine. This commercial grade leg press machine is available for home purchase, and can be used for a traditional leg press, hack squat, forward thrust and calf raise; think of it as a twist on a Smith machine or power rack. Its versatility is one of the top reasons we’ve named this leg press as our best overall, as are its enhanced safety features that include five safety stopper positions and safety rail handles. Plus, we also love the high-quality build of this leg press that includes 13 gauge steel construction and 11 gauge steel joints and stress points—meaning this machine can withstand even the toughest leg exercises.
The Force USA Ultimate 45-Degree Leg Press Hack Squat Combo comes with a limited lifetime warranty on its frame and a one-year warranty on its commercial grade vinyl upholstery. It can be used with both standard and Olympic weight plates, and includes a built-in calf block for calf raises. Still, since this machine is often used by personal trainers and serious weightlifters (hence its 1,000 pound weight capacity), it may not be the most beginner-friendly buy. Beginners may be better off investing in a seated leg press machine that uses a cable pulley system.
Purchase Force USA Ultimate 45-Degree Leg Press Hack Squat Combo
Save up to $1,500 + get free Gunner barbell - bright zinc sleeves
There’s nothing better than a fitness machine that offers numerous workouts in one system, and that’s why we love Titan Fitness Leg Press Hack Squat Machine as our best leg press and hack squat combo. This 45-degree leg press allows you to quickly flip its back pad and drop the leg press footplate to complete a hack squat, and vice-versa to go back to doing a leg press. It’s also made with numerous ergonomic features—including thick back and shoulder pads—to offer you a more comfortable workout. In addition, the leg press and hack squat combo is made with non-slip diamond plated footplates and rubber non-skid feet to keep you and your machine safe.
One downside to this product, however, is that it only includes a one-year limited warranty for manufacturer’s defects. Some customers complain that the machine is too small for tall users and that it has shorter loadable sleeve length, which is the space where you load weight plates. Yet if these issues aren’t bothersome to you, it’s still an excellent investment for your home gym that will offer you increased versatility when it comes to your lower body workouts. This machine is also designed with a powder-coated black finish that gives it a sleek, modern look.
Purchase Titan Fitness Leg Press Hack Squat Combo
If you’re looking for a serious splurge for your home or garage gym, Rogue ISO Leg Press 35 ranks as our best premium leg press machine. In addition to its stunning design, medium gloss finish on its mainframe and sleek black and red color scheme, this 45-degree leg press machine packs in a heavy-duty workout. It can withstand up to a whopping 2,475 pounds of weight, and is made with linear ball bearings for a smooth leg press exercise, regardless of weight load. This product is an excellent fit for Olympic lifters and bodybuilders, and also includes four bolt-on stainless steel posts for additional plate storage. On top of that, its oversized footplate is designed with multiple angles to help users of all heights achieve a better leg press form.
Despite its extremely high price point of $6,250, many reviewers say that every penny is worth it when it comes to investing in this high-end leg press machine. Yet for the ultra-high price tag, Rogue ISO Leg Press 35 offers only a short 90-day warranty on upholstery and grips, although structural welds and frames (which are arguably more important to the integrity of the machine) have a limited lifetime warranty. Keep in mind that this piece of fitness equipment does have a larger footprint, so despite its high-end design, it may not be the best buy for smaller home gyms.
Purchase Rogue ISO Leg Press 35
Not all leg press machines are strictly designed for lower-body workouts. Synergee Leg Press Machine ranks as our top pick for best leg press machine with an upper-body workout because it includes a lat pulldown bar and pulley system to help you work your arms, back and chest. Reviewers praise this leg press machine for its straightforward, easy-to-use design, which makes it beginner-friendly and great for learning strength training techniques.
Still, the simple design may not be challenging enough for serious weight trainers. The Synergee Leg Press Machine can only withstand up to 400 pounds, and the footplates are extremely small, so you may be limited in both your form and weight load. Yet for the low price point, these concerns are relatively minor if standard upper-body and lower-body strength training is your goal. Since this machine is only 24 inches wide, it’s also great for smaller home gyms and tucking up against walls. It’s also available on Amazon for easier buying and shipping options.
Purchase Synergee Leg Press Machine
For just under $450, you can purchase a quality vertical leg press machine that offers a solid lower-body workout. Titan Fitness Vertical Leg Press Machine is our favorite budget buy because it’s easy to use, takes up minimal space and offers four adjustable height options to suit users of different heights. Despite its low price point, this leg press machine doesn’t skimp on construction. It’s made with durable, 11-gauge steel and comfortable padding to support your back while you do leg press exercises. Still, users with existing back pain may want to steer clear of any vertical leg press machines, since these can be hard on your back.
Overall, for the price point, the benefits of this machine far outweigh the cons. Some users complain of difficult assembly, unclear instructions and missing parts, but the assembled product seems to stand up well to leg press workouts. Heavier lifters may want to seek out a leg press machine with a higher weight capacity, however, since this machine only supports up to 400 pounds.
Purchase Titan Fitness Vertical Leg Press Machine
When you have a smaller home or garage gym, every inch of space counts. If you’re looking for a compact leg press machine that can easily fit into even the smallest of exercise areas, we recommend Body Solid Compact Leg Press. The Body Solid leg press has a mostly-vertical footprint of just 47.2-inches wide and 67.1-inches deep, so you can easily tuck it into a corner. Yet despite its compact design, this leg press machine isn’t lightweight. It includes carriage glides on sealed linear bearings and chrome-plated guide rods that allow for smoother leg presses, while its heavy-gauge steel construction helps ensure a long-lasting product with enhanced durability.
Accommodating up to 1,000 pounds of weight, Body Solid Compact Leg Press does retail for a higher price point of just over $1,200, which may be higher-than-average given its relatively simple and compact design. The hip sled is also on the smaller side and may be too small for some users. Still, if you’re working with a small home or garage gym space, this machine is worth it thanks to its nearly-seamless leg press experience and higher weight capacity.
Purchase Body Solid Compact Leg Press
Vertical leg press machines tend to offer lower price points and more compact designs than horizontal or 45-degree leg presses. Our top pick for the best vertical leg press machine is the Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg Press, which has a mid-level price point of $557.99 and measures just 48 inches across in its width. The Powerline vertical leg press can support up to 440 pounds in weight and has three one-inch diameter weight posts for even weight distribution; the catch, however, is that this only fits standard weight plates, and doesn’t fit Olympic weight plates.
This vertical leg press also has an extra-thick back pad and a contoured head and neck pad for additional lumbar support, which may be helpful for users with lower back pain or existing back injuries. Yet due to its lighter weight capacity and inability to support Olympic-sized weight plates, this leg press is best-suited for beginners or lifters who don’t plan to press heavy weight.
Purchase Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg Press
Body Solid LVLP Leverage Horizontal Leg Press is our favorite horizontal leg press machine because of its excellent comfort features and support for the body. The fully-adjustable back support is a great feature for those with low back pain or back injuries, since this helps ensure proper form and body alignment. This machine also comes with a large pivoting footplate and self-aligning seat carriage. These help users maintain correct foot position throughout their range of motion, which ultimately makes this product a good fit for users of various heights.
The Body Solid horizontal leg press also makes our list because of its strong durability and heavy-duty construction. It’s made out of 11-gauge steel and includes two triple-chromed weight storage holders to store your weight plates, while double-stitched upholstery helps prevent damage. In addition, the powder coat finish is electrostatically applied, which reduces the amount of dips or divots in the finish and creates a smoother appearance with more scratch resistance.
Purchase Body Solid LVLP Leverage Horizontal Leg Press
Powertec Leg Press by Powertec Fitness is a reliable piece of fitness equipment that offers a safe and secure lower-body workout. This product is our top pick for best 45-degree leg press machine because of its smooth weight training experience. A high-tensile strength carriage powered by a roller system helps ensure a quiet, seamless workout, while bearing-driven nylon-reinforced wheels help improve stability. Overall, this machine is one of our favorites for safety features, and it offers secure, durable weight training for up to 1,000 pounds of weight.
While this machine has a smaller footprint and is another great fit for compact home or garage gyms, the footprint may actually be too short for taller users—if you’re over six feet, two inches, you may want to consider a larger machine. If a machine is too small for you, you may struggle with range of motion and keeping proper form. It also has a shorter loadable sleeve length—especially on the lower part of the machine—which some users say makes loading weight plates difficult.
There are several types of leg press machines that each offer a slightly different way of completing leg press exercises. These are three of the most common.
A vertical leg press machine is a leg press that you press up on at an upwards angle. These machines require users to lay flat on their backs, pushing their feet up against a footplate to lift it up and down (similar to a bench press, but for your legs). Most, but not all, vertical leg press machines use free weights, so they offer a more manual and traditional weightlifting experience. Vertical leg presses also take up less room than other varieties, making them a smart choice for those with smaller home gyms. They tend to be less expensive than other types as well.
Leg presses designed on an angle of 45 degrees offer a workout that some believe resembles a barbell back squat. These machines have users seated on an angle, pressing (or pushing) the footplate up and down to complete leg press exercises. If you have a painful lower back, you may want to opt for this type of leg press, since it tends to be more comfortable on your back. These machines often use free weights, but some 45-degree leg presses come with a cable system that uses cable pulleys to raise and lower weight plates as you press on the footplate.
A horizontal leg press is similar to a 45-degree leg press, except that you sit in an almost straight position. Like 45-degree leg presses, they’re also gentler on your back, and a great option if avoiding back pain or discomfort is part of your fitness needs. Most horizontal leg presses operate on a cable system that uses cable pulleys to raise and lower weight plates, but some are designed with a free weight system that allows you to load or remove weight plates on your own.
Consider these factors before buying a leg press machine for home use.
The biggest difference between types of leg press machines are the angles of the workouts that they provide. 45-degree leg press machines will keep your back at a 40 to 45 degree angle, while a horizontal leg press usually keeps your back at a mostly-straight angle. All leg press machines offer the same incentives—working out and strengthening your lower body—so the type you choose will ultimately depend on which variety is most comfortable for you to use.
If you’re a heavy lifter, you may want to seek out a leg press machine with a maximum weight range of 1,000 pounds or more. This will help ensure your workouts remain challenging, and that you’re lifting enough weight to activate your leg muscles, especially if your body is used to training with high weight loads. More average or lighter lifters can likely make do with average leg press maximum weight ranges, which generally go up to around 400 pounds, give or take.
Space is one of the most important factors that home gym owners need to consider when buying fitness equipment for home use, especially more bulky items like leg press machines. Carefully measure your workout space and confirm that the machine you’re looking to purchase fits within that space, with at least five feet on each side of the machine to give you adequate room to exercise. If your home gym is too crammed, you could limit the types of exercises you’re able to do and even prevent yourself from being able to maintain proper form.
Having good lower back support matters, especially if you’re prone to low back pain or have existing back injuries. Look for a machine with a comfortable or padded backrest, which will make leg press exercises more comfortable on the body. A machine with an adjustable hip sled can also help you find a leg press angle that doesn’t aggravate your back. Consider seeking out machines with a greater range of adjustability, so you can adjust the angle to your needs.
A larger footplate can help you better position your feet at a width that’s most comfortable for you. The smaller the footplate on your leg press machine, the less space you’ll have to work with. If you have larger feet, then a leg press machine with a larger footplate is a must to guarantee that you’re able to maintain proper form while completing leg press exercises. A larger footplate can also give you space to do calf raises, which can be done on any seated leg press machine. To do calf raises, simply move your feet to the very bottom of the footplate and let your heels slightly dangle, while keeping your feet shoulder width apart. Then, press as you would with a traditional leg press to do a calf raise.
At the end of the day, comfort should be top of mind when selecting a leg press machine for home use. After all, you’re making an investment, and leg press machines don’t run cheap, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re comfortable doing exercises on any equipment you buy. Consider looking for leg press machines with built-in ergonomic features, padded backrests and larger footplates to make your workout more enjoyable. Plus, if your leg press machine is uncomfortable on the body, you may be less inclined to use it, and therefore won’t get your money’s worth.
It’s essential to invest in a leg press machine that’s built to last. While a less-expensive buy may save you money in the short-term, you could be looking at replacing your leg press machine more quickly if it doesn’t have features or construction that promote durability, such as a heavy-duty steel frame. Sometimes, investing in a better-built product could save you money in the long-term, even if it’s initially purchased at a higher price point. Durability also plays a role in alleviating injury, since a machine that doesn’t operate properly could hurt you or cause pain.
Leg press machines tend to be more expensive purchases, so it’s important to consider your price range before you begin to look at products. Determine your overall budget for your home gym and what percentage of that budget a leg press machine could take up. Be sure to also factor in things like extended warranties, personal training apps, additional accessories like ab roller wheels or other fitness buys that you may want to invest in alongside your leg press.
Having a good warranty in place is essential to not only your peace of mind, but guaranteeing that any defects, malfunctions or broken parts will be replaced in the event that your leg press machine needs repair. Some warranties also cover the labor needed to complete the repair. Consider buying a machine with a multi-year warranty, and be sure that the warranty program is robust; some multi-year warranties offer only limited coverage that won’t be helpful long-term.
Buying your own leg press machine comes with a host of benefits. These are the top three perks of adding this piece of fitness equipment to your home or garage gym.
Most commercial gyms have a standard horizontal leg press or 45-degree angle leg press. While both of these types of leg presses can help you achieve a solid lower body workout, you may want to consider another type of leg press machine, such as a vertical leg press, depending on your fitness goals and interests. Buying your own leg press allows you to pick a type that works best for your needs and that fits the size of your home gym at a price point that meets your budget.
One of the best benefits of having fitness equipment at home is that you can truly workout at any time that’s right or convenient for you. Whether that’s for five minutes before jumping on a remote meeting or a half hour during your lunch break, you don’t have to worry about squeezing in time to go to a commercial gym to get some exercise. Having a leg press at home allows you to strengthen your leg muscles at your own pace and cadence.
Let’s face it: exercising in a commercial gym can sometimes feel like a high-pressure chore. It can be easy to compare your fitness level to that of others, or even feel pressured to quickly finish your workout so another person can use your fitness equipment. This can run especially true of leg press machines, which are hot in demand; plus, many commercial gyms tend to have just one leg press machine that can generate a lot of traffic and use. Owning your own leg press machine alleviates all of these issues and allows you to exercise at your own comfort level.
Having proper form is one of the best ways to safely use a leg press machine. First, keep your heels flat on the footplate to avoid putting all of the pressure on your toes. Second, be sure that your knees remain pointed straight at no more than a 90-degree angle during your workout. If they do collapse inward or bend too far, you may run the risk of injuring your knees, although more research on knee flexion angle is needed to confirm the likelihood of this; still, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Third, be sure to avoid knee lockouts and keep your knees bent at all times, even if on a slight angle. This keeps the pressure on your muscles rather than on your joints. Wearing good training shoes can also go a long way in protecting your feet and foot position.
When it comes to how much weight you should press, a common rule of thumb often used in the fitness industry is that beginners should start with leg press exercises that use 50 to 75 percent of their total body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and you’re new to strength training, you should start by pressing 75 pounds of weight. Then, as your fitness level and muscular strength increases, you can steadily increase your weight stack. If you’re a more advanced weight lifter or experienced in bodybuilding, you can leg press 100 percent or more of your total body weight.
While how many reps you do on a leg press is ultimately up to you and your fitness goals, many people choose to do between two to three sets with eight to 15 reps per set at a moderate-to-heavy weight load. However, to build muscular endurance, studies suggest that four to five sets at a lighter weight load with 15 or more reps per set is the most effective. To increase strength, on the other hand, research shows that completing just one very heavy set with four to five reps will do the trick.
Leg presses don’t target belly fat per say, since these fitness machines focus on strengthening leg and glute muscles, but they can help you achieve overall weight loss. Strength training on a leg press machine can decrease your body fat percentage, while practicing a combination of aerobic and resistance training (such as running and weightlifting) can reduce abdominal fat.
Doing leg presses can strengthen and tone your quadriceps muscles, which can give you the appearance of slimmer thighs. Leg presses are an excellent fitness equipment to use for overall leg toning, since they work a wide range of leg muscles that also includes your hamstrings and glutes.
Any seated leg press machine will have the most impact on your quadriceps muscles. This includes horizontal and 45-degree leg presses. In fact, the more your knees are flexed (or the closer your bottom is to the footplate), the more you’ll activate this muscle group. For maximum impact on your quads, consider lowering the leg press hip sled to a point where your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Try not to go any lower, however, since this may make climbing into the hip sled and your overall workout uncomfortable, and put you at risk of potential injury.
Squats may be more effective at developing your lower body muscles, especially your glute muscles, but they can also take a toll on your knees and back. If you have stiff knees or lower back pain, you may want to consider doing leg presses instead of squats. Still, either leg workout is ultimately effective at targeting your lower body. A 2018 study found that strength, body composition and functional outcome can all benefit from leg presses and/or squats.
Having a leg press machine at home is an excellent investment if you’re looking for an effective lower body workout. Leg presses are a proven way to strengthen your leg muscles, especially your quads, and they can also help you achieve the appearance of slimmer thighs, especially when paired with time on a cardio machine. While leg press machines aren’t exactly a budget buy, they’re a sturdy purchase that can allow you to press hundreds of pounds, making them highly beneficial for strength training. Still, with multiple leg press machines and varieties on the market, it can be tough to find a product that’s right for you. Before making a purchase, consult our best leg press machine list for our favorite picks, their standout features and how they compare to others.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.
Custom Wood Screw Ashley Zlatopolsky is a Detroit-based writer and editor. She writes about health, wellness and fitness for Sports Illustrated, Real Simple, Healthline, Greatist, SELF and more. Previously, she worked as a branded content strategist at USA TODAY. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys dancing, kickboxing, strength training and running.This author is writing sponsored content paid for by Pillar4 and not affiliated with Sports Illustrated.