11 Best Leg Press Alternatives & Exercises You Can Do At Home

Girl exercising on leg press machine

If it’s leg day and you don’t have time to leave the house, we will cover the best leg press alternatives which can help you get your lower body in shape.

The leg press machine is one of the most popular pieces of equipment at a gym. It can help you build strength, muscle size, and endurance. It’s a staple of most bodybuilders’ leg routines, and it allows you to lift high weights with minimal strain on your lower back.

Because it is not deemed as effective as free-weight techniques like the back squat, the leg press, like all resistance machine exercises, is sometimes looked down on by individuals who spend a lot of time in the gym. While that barbell move is undeniably one of the best lower-body exercises available, it misses what the leg press – and any resistance machine moves – can accomplish.

Working in a fixed movement pattern with a resistance machine can be very useful for isolating the exact muscle you’re looking to train despite the fact that it may not train all of the stabilizing muscles in your joints or recruit the core muscles in the same way that free weights exercises do, Beginners can use machines to master a movement before attempting it with a heavy barbell. Although leg press has numerous advantages, as with any exercise it also has its risks and limitations. We will put an end to the long-standing debate between squat and leg press factions in a separate article.

In this post, we would look at eleven exercises, including the Swiss Ball Leg Curl, Bulgarian Squat, and Lateral Lunges, all of which are excellent leg press alternatives that you can easily do at home.

Girl doing squats as leg press alternative

1. Resistance Bands Leg Press

Resistance bands are a wonderful leg press alternative, and even without the heavy weights, the workout provides a great pump. Leg presses with resistance bands target the same muscles as machine leg presses. Resistance bands are lightweight and portable, making them ideal for use in a number of situations.

Equipment: A Mat and a Resistance Band

How to do it: 

  • Curl the band around the bottom of your soles with your feet straight.
  • Slowly press your legs up, stopping the action before locking them out.
  • Lower your legs to the starting place in a controlled manner and repeat.
  • Go for 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps, depending on band resistance.

2. Broad Jump

This explosive plyometric workout strengthens your quads, hamstrings, and glutes while requiring a lot of leg power.

Jumping exercises are a terrific technique to build lower-body strength while also activating and recruiting more muscle fibres during your workout, which will help you achieve those lower-body gains!

Just try to land softly on your knees to avoid injuring yourself.

Equipment: None

How to do it: 

  • Place both feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. This is where you’ll begin.
  • Inhale. Swing your arms backwards while bending your hips and knees at the same moment, keeping your knees in line with your toes. Keep bending your knees till your upper legs are parallel to the ground. Maintain a 45- to 90-degree angle between your back and your hips. This is known as the squat position.
  • Exhale. Swing your arms up and down to move your body upwards and forwards, landing in a squat stance once more. To avoid injury, make sure your knees are’soft’ as you land. Repeat.

3. Bodyweight squat

The quads, hamstrings, and glutes are all used in the leg press and squat. Because the majority of your body moves during a squat, it also works other muscle areas such as your hips and abs so it can work as an excellent leg press alternative.

A 2013 study discovered that body mass-based squat training is a feasible and effective method for improving body composition and muscular strength of the knee extensors, and jump performance

Equipment: None

How to do it: 

  • Place both feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. This is where you’ll begin.
  • Inhale. Bend at the hips and knees, keeping your knees in line with your toes while looking straight ahead. Bend your knees more till your upper legs are parallel to the ground. Maintain a 45- to 90-degree angle between your back and your hips.
  • Exhale. Return to the beginning position by pushing through your heels and extending your legs. Repeat.

4. Split squats

Split squat focuses on your quads and glutes and you can do it to challenge one leg at a time.

Equipment: None

How to do it: 

  • Step forward with one foot and back with the other. Place the majority of your weight on your front leg. Raise the heel of your foot at the back.
  • Keep your hips in line with your shoulders while bending your knees and lowering your hips all the while making sure your toes are pointing forwards.
  • Lower your back knee down until it is slightly above the floor.
  • Return to the beginning position by squeezing your glutes.
  • Begin with a single set of 8–12 reps. Repeat with the opposite leg.

5. Lunges

Lunges, like squats, work your leg muscles without putting too much strain on your back. Stepping forward engages your quadriceps and glutes.

The lunge is not the same as the split squat. A lunge works both legs at once, whereas a split squat works one leg at a time.

Equipment: None

How to do it: 

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Step one foot forward and bend your knees into 90-degree angles while lowering your hips.
  • Lower your front thigh till it is parallel to the ground. Maintain an over-the-ankle position with your front knee.
  • To get back to the starting position, push your front leg.
  • Begin by performing one set of 8–12 repetitions. Replace the other leg and repeat the process.

6. The Bridge Exercise

The bridge works great at stabilizing and strengthening your core. It also offers similar benefits to leg presses on a machine by working your butt and thighs in the same way.

Equipment needed: Mat

How to do it: 

  • Lie down flat on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet directly beneath your knees on the floor. You can also rest your feet on a bench or an exercise ball.
  • Place your hands, palms down, at your sides.
  • Tighten your buttocks and core.
  • Raise your hips until your knees and shoulders are in a straight line. Lower your hips after a little pause.
  • Begin with a single set of 8–12 reps.

7. Jump Squat

This exercise is likely to appear in a variety of fitness routines. It’s efficient because it recruits muscles ‘other than’ JUST your legs, such as your core, just by incorporating a vertical jump. It is very well considered an excellent leg press alternative by fitness professionals.

Use ankle weights or light dumbbells to enhance resistance and make the workout more difficult. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you’ve mastered your squat technique.

Equipment needed: Mat

How to do it: 

  • Place both feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. Bend at the hips and knees, keeping your knees in line with your toes while looking straight ahead. Bend your knees more till your upper legs are parallel to the ground. Maintain a 45- to 90-degree angle between your back and your hips. This is where you’ll begin.
  • Extend both your knees and hips as you push through your heels and thrust your body upwards into the air.
  • Land and return to the starting position by bending your hips and knees, keeping your knees ‘soft’ to avoid injury. Repeat.

8. Lateral Lunges

Equipment needed: Mat

The side lunge or lateral lunge develops the glutes, hamstrings, and quads in the same way that a standard lunge does, but from a different angle. It’s a great exercise since it focuses on the sides of the glutes, which are home to many of your hip-stabilizing muscles.

The lateral lunge works both the outer and inner thighs, which can be harder to train during daily tasks but are crucial for improving balance and thus proves itself unique in its working than many leg press alternatives.

How to do it: 

  1. Place both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart and engage your core. This is where you’ll begin.
  2. Inhale. Plant your right foot on the floor, take a huge stride to your left with your left foot off the floor. As you set your foot down on the ground, bend your left knee and keep your right leg straight.
  3. Exhale. Extend your left leg and balance your body weight on your right foot. To return to the start, step in with your left foot.
  4. Inhale. Release your right foot and take a big step to the right, keeping your left foot on the floor. Bend your right knee as you put your foot on the floor, keeping your left leg straight.
  5. Exhale. Transfer your weight to your left foot by extending your right knee. Return to the starting position by stepping your right foot inwards.
  6. Alternate between the left and right sides.

9. Wall Squat

The Wall Squat is another excellent leg press substitute, and it may be done anywhere, thus making it a popular choice for people wanting to strengthen their legs and knees.

The wall’s advantage is that it helps to keep the body in a safe posture while also assisting with the technical aspects of the squat, which can be quite challenging.

Equipment needed: Mat

How to do it: 

  • Keep your back as flat against the wall as possible.
  • Aim for a solid base with feet being shoulder-width apart and around 30-60cm from the wall.
  • Keep your core engaged and slowly lower until your knees are parallel to the ground.
  • In the parallel position, pause for a count of three while maintaining a strong core.
  • Return to the starting position slowly, being cautious not to lock your knees out.

10. Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a classic old school move that targets the leg muscles, including the hamstrings and quadriceps.

Because of the single-leg motion, your core must engage, making it a superb all-around exercise that improves general health and strength rather than just in the legs.

Equipment needed: Dumbbells or kettlebells

How to do it: 

  • Stand upright while holding a pair of dumbbells to your side In front of a bench or chair
  • Place one foot on the top bench behind you.
  • Slowly lower yourself as per your comfort level while maintaining a firm core.
  • At the bottom of the movement, pause for a one-second count.
  • Return to the top in a controlled manner

11. Swiss Ball Curl

The Swiss Ball Leg Curl is a glute and hamstring strengthening movement that is also known as a “supine hip extension.”

The Swiss Ball Leg Curl is a fantastic leg press substitute, as it specifically works the hip flexors and knee flexors while bringing our heels closer to our butts.

Equipment needed: Swiss Ball and a Mat

How to do it: 

  • Get on your back (on a mat) and rest the heels of your feet on the swiss ball.
  • lift your glutes slowly off the ground to form a straight line.
  • Then roll the ball towards your butt with a 3-second pause.
  • Again, return to the start position in a smooth and controlled manner.

Takeaway

Whether you don’t have access to a leg press machine or just want to add something new to your leg workouts, there’s enough here to keep you going for a few leg days.

These lower-body exercises will work your legs without a machine and hence can effectively be used as leg press alternatives. You don’t have to use a leg press machine to train your legs well. As you can see, there are a lot of great things you can do instead of sitting on the leg press machine every day.

The leg press at home exercises in this article work all of your lower body’s muscles and help you get stronger, bigger, and more powerful.

Never forget to warm up before exercising. This will prevent you from hurting yourself and providing oxygen to your muscles. Work a different muscle group each day to improve overall body strength.

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