12 Most Effective Leg Press Alternative Exercises for Home Workouts

People tend to turn to the leg press machine on leg day. The leg press is also a popular choice for those suffering from low back pain. Even at best form, constant tension and shortening of the hip flexors, along with a lack of hip extension, cause lower back problems. The leg press is an excellent exercise to develop, tone, and build strength in your leg muscles. The problem is, it can be difficult to do leg presses at home without paying hundreds of dollars for a machine for the home. That’s where the best leg press alternatives come into play!

We’ve put together a definitive list to help you replicate the same results. The best leg press alternatives you can do at home and build muscle and strength in your lower body.

The leg press targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. All three of these muscle groups can be effectively targeted with other exercises.

In this article, I will introduce you to 12 leg press alternatives designed to shape and strengthen your pins!

Why is the leg press exercise so good?


If you can, the Leg Press Machine is a terrific option. If you are at the gym, you should try using the leg press machine to help you develop your glutes. One of the great things about the leg press machine is that you can easily progressively overload.

The leg press targets all parts of your legs, including the quads, hams, glutes, and calves. It will help you build muscle mass and improve your legs. This is great because it’s a versatile exercise that will help you build your legs over all of your legs.

Another benefit of the leg press machine is that it’s a great way to help build your strength for other leg-focused exercises like squats and deadlifts.

However, getting a leg press machine at home can be difficult if you don’t have a gym membership. Our list of the 12 best Leg Press Alternatives and leg exercises for home workouts will help you improve your legs.

12 Best Leg Press Alternatives for Home Workouts


Below you will find a set of exercises of varying difficulty, from beginner to advanced. There’s something for everyone here, and there’s something here for every muscle in your lower body.

Prepare to kiss the leg press machine (and then queue to use it) bye!

The good news is that if you don’t have a leg press machine, there are a few exercises you can do at home that can help you improve your legs or very simple/inexpensive gym equipment.

Once you’ve found a few exercises for your legs, you can also check out some shoulder exercises to help you build muscle mass.

12 Best Leg Press Alternatives for Home Workouts

1. Resistance Band Leg Press

This exercise repeats the biomechanics of the leg press as you push the weight/resistance away from your body. Obviously, the load that can be achieved with a leg press cannot be achieved with resistance bands, but this is a great starting point, to begin with.

How:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and the resistance band under your feet.
  • Hold the other end of the resistance band with both hands and raise your hands towards your chest to create maximum tension on the band.
  • Bring your knees towards your chest without lifting your hips off the ground.
  • Push your legs away from you against the resistance band until they are straight.
  • Squeeze your quads at the end of the move
  • Bring your knees back to your chest

Recommended number of repetitions: 12 to 15

Pro tip: This exercise will also hit your abs, so be sure not to allow too much arch in your lower back as you straighten your legs – keep your abs engaged.

2. Weighted Wall Sit

If you want to target your quads, similar to what the tight-fitting leg press does, then this exercise is for you! It’s like a standard wall seat, but with the added weight to make it that much more tiring!

If you’re just starting out, try with your body weight to start. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

How:

  • Grab a weight plate of suitable weight on hand and it’s ready to go.
  • Lean against a wall and walk your feet out.
  • Lower your body until your hips are parallel to the floor, keeping your knees behind or in line with your toes.
  • Place the weight plate on your legs while in a stable position.
  • Hold this position for as long as you want.

Recommended time: 30 to 60 seconds

3. Resistance Band Broad Jumps

Wide jumps are great for building strength from the lower body. Using a resistance band for your wide jumps will make it harder. This exercise is a complete lower body exercise that targets your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

How:

  • Attach a resistance band to a hip-high cable machine tower (a tall one, otherwise you won’t get far).
  • Get on the resistance band and place it around your hips.
  • Move away from the cable machine until tension builds up in the tape.
  • Bend your knees, send your arms back, and then jump forward with as much explosive power as possible, creating as much hip movement as possible.
  • To absorb the impact of the jump, you must land in a semi-squatting position with your knees bent.
  • Walk to the cable machine (maintain tension) and do your next rep.

Recommended number of repetitions: 10 to 12

4. Dumbbell Walking Lunges

The exercise we all love to hate – walking the lung! I like to do walking lunges with fewer repetitions and as much weight as I can manage. This approach to walking moves will increase the mass-building benefits through your quads and glutes.

How:

  • Take a dumbbell in each hand and extend your arms.
  • Start by standing in a neutral stance.
  • Take a big step forward and then bend both knees to lower your body to the floor.
  • Make sure to keep your chest up, your weight on your front heel, and your front knee behind your toes.
  • Push up as you take your next step.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

Recommended number of repetitions: 20 to 24 (1o to 12 on each leg)

Pro tip: Hold the dumbbells in the front rack position to increase the load on your quads and work your arms as well.

5. Barbell Step-Ups

The barbell step-up is a great functional, one-sided, multi-joint exercise that’s killer for your quads, glutes (and core). I often write this exercise for my clients, especially for its balance and symmetry-enhancing benefits.

How:

  • Load a barbell onto your back as you would for the back squat.
  • Stand in front of a bench or box of appropriate height (knee height is a good starting point).
  • Step onto the bench/box first with your weaker leg, crossing your heel and midfoot.
  • Keep both feet on the bench/box before descending.
  • Your next step should be with the other leg.
  • Continue your reps by switching from one leg to the other.

Recommended number of repetitions: 20 to 24 (10 to 12 on each leg)

Pro tip: Raise the height of the bench/box to make this exercise challenge you!

6. Single Leg Dumbbell Step Ups

Like the barbell raises mentioned above, but with a greater focus on unilateral strength. I find that this exercise and the sustained load on one leg create a greater level of effort through the glutes. This exercise can be likened to a one-legged leg press.

How:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended by your sides.
  • Stand in front of a bench or box of appropriate height (knee height is a good starting point).
  • Put your weaker leg on the bench (it will stay there until the end of your rep range).
  • Push up to stand on the bench as you cross through your heels and midfoot.
  • Don’t put your other leg on the bench/box – just let it “in the air” for a second before putting it back on the floor.
  • Do all reps on one leg before switching sides.

Recommended number of repetitions: 12 to 15 on each side

Pro tip: Practice your “mind-muscle connection” – focus on your glutes!

7. Smith Rack Squats

Smith racks provide stability, allowing you to load more weight than a standard barbell squat. For those of you who like to “load weights” like you can on a leg press machine, this is for you. The biomechanics of a smith machine squat is like the leg press but in reverse.

How:

  • Load blacksmith racks with an appropriate weight (don’t be too heroic).
  • Stand on the rack with the bar on your back, as in a squat position.
  • Keep your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keeping your weight in your heels, engage your core and send your hips back, bend your knees to land in a squat position.
  • My advice to you would be to stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Push back to a standing position without locking your knees.
  • Recommended number of repetitions: 10 to 12

Pro tip: Take a slightly wider foot stance to target your inner thighs and hamstrings, as you would a wide leg press.

8. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squats

Want to add some dimension to your quads? Look no further than the Bulgarian split squat! This exercise puts all the tension on one leg at a time and does not put unnecessary strain on your spine.

How:

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms extended by your sides.
  • Stand in front of a bench or box at knee level, facing away from him.
  • Place one foot on the bench and jump forward with the other leg until you’re in a “stream-width” stance.
  • Bend both knees to lower your body toward the ground – you should feel the tension in your front leg and glutes and a stretch in your hind quads and hip flexors.
  • Make sure to keep your chest up, your weight on your front heel, and your front knee behind your toes.
  • Push back with your front leg straight without locking your knee.
  • Do all reps on one leg before switching sides.

Recommended number of repetitions: 10 to 12 on each side

9. Barbell Front Squats

Biomechanically, front and back squats are almost the same. However, when the weight is loaded on the front of your body instead of the back, it’s your quads that get more exercise as opposed to your glutes. This makes it an effective alternative to the leg press.

How:

  • Load a barbell into front rack positions with the bar over your collarbones, soft hands, wrists bent back, and elbows up.
  • Engage your core and drive your hips back, bending your knees to lower yourself into a squat position.
  • With the weight on your heels and toes, be sure to keep your chest and elbows up so you don’t squat too much while squatting.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and come back powerfully to a standing position.

Recommended number of repetitions: 10 to 12

10. Barbell Hip Thrusters

With the optimal hip extension, barbell hip thrusts target your glutes and hamstrings. This exercise provides a great focus on strength, speed, and power. To be effective, it is imperative that you get the form right when doing this exercise, so pay close attention to the ‘how to’ notes. You can use a hip thrust pad to make this exercise easier to perform.

How:

  • Sit leaning against a stable bench.
  • Grab a barbell in your lap, in the crease of your hips.
  • Bend your knees and push your feet close to your hips in such a way that your knees are at a 90-degree angle as you push up.
  • Take a deep breath and then push your hips up until your shoulders are on the bench and your hips are fully extended.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and stay in this position for a second.
  • Slowly lower and repeat.

Recommended number of repetitions: 12 to 15

Pro tip: The closer your feet are to your hips, the more you’ll target your glutes. The further your feet are from your hips, the more you target your hamstrings.

11. Toes Up Landmine Squats

That’s why I saved the best for last. This is a huge workout, well worth the wait! Note, this is NOT for beginners. What makes this exercise special is the uneven distribution of weight. Even if you’re lifting weights like a leg press, this exercise works your muscles in a way that leg press can never do.

How:

  • Place a barbell on the mine attachment and load it with an appropriate weight.
  • Put a weight plate on the floor in front of you.
  • Place the barbell on one shoulder, facing away from the mine, and place your toes on the weight plate on the floor with only your heels on the ground.
  • Lie on the back of the barbell, bend your knees, and in a few seconds lower yourself into a squat position.
  • Without locking your knees at the top of the movement, forcefully push back into a standing position.
  • Do all reps with dumbbells on one side before repeating on the other side.

Recommended number of repetitions: 10 to 12 on each side

12. Goblet Squats

The goblet squat is another leg exercise you can do as a leg press alternative. It is very similar to the front squat and focuses heavily on the quadriceps and glutes.

To do goblet squats, all you need is kettlebells and some space to squat. It’s a great workout for beginners and those who want to improve their legs and core. Here’s how to do it:

How:

  • Sit your hips back and bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat.
  • Keep the chest up as you squat and squat as low as you can while keeping your back straight (when your back starts to round, that’s too low).
  • Drive through the feet as you stand and squeeze your glutes as you return to a tall standing position.

Leg Press Alternatives at Home: Wrapping Up


Most Effective Leg Press Alternative Exercises for Home Workouts

Even as I write this article, my legs hurt!

Whether it’s because you don’t have access to a leg press machine or you just want to spice up your leg workouts with something different – here’s a lot to keep you going for a few leg days.

You don’t need a leg press machine to effectively train your legs. As you can see, there are many great alternatives to sitting on the leg press machine every day.

The at-home leg press exercises featured in this article target every muscle in your lower body and are good for everything that matters: strength, power, and size.

Now, go get it!

Concussion


Here are 12 of the best leg press alternatives to help you develop your glutes, quads, hams, and calves. All these exercises need very little equipment and mainly weights and an exercise bench. You will be able to do these exercises at home and you will not need a lot of space to do this leg exercise.

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