6 Ways to Leg Press at Home

Man doing leg press with dumbbells.

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Leg presses promote lower body development by targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves and core. They also promote strong bones and a sharp mind, so hopping on the leg press machine is a must whenever you hit the gym.  But what do you do when some lunk is hogging the machine or the gym closes again due to COVID? You don’t want to miss leg day, but how do you practice the same movement without a machine? Luckily, you can still work all the same muscles — plus some — with the following at-home leg press exercises. 

1. Resistance Band Press

The resistance band variation of the leg press is just as effective as using a machine. You might just have to do a few more reps. Hit all the same areas as the seated leg press and use various resistance strengths to add more “weight.” 

To perform this exercise, lie down with your back on the mat and your knees bent. Loop the band over the arches of your feet and hold the other end in your hands. Press your feet against the band until they’re straight. Then, slowly return to the start position. You can also perform this movement in a chair to give your lower back a break. Just remember to squeeze your core to maintain proper form. 

2. Weighted Squats

Squats also mimic the same movement as leg presses. However, you do them standing up so your back absorbs less pressure. The best part is you don’t need any equipment to blast out a couple of reps. 

Extend your arms straight ahead or clasp your hands as you enter the squat position. Lower yourself until your knees are parallel to the floor, keeping your knees over your ankles. Push through your heels to stand up. That’s one rep. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell to add more weight to this movement. Jumping between reps and incorporating different versions can also build strength and target a variety of leg muscles. 

3. Power Lunges 

If you’re looking for an intense, low-impact movement, lunges are it. Like squats, lunges work your quads, glutes, hamstrings without putting unnecessary strain on your back. Practice stepping both forward and backward to increase coordination and balance. 

Increase difficulty by doing lunges with dumbbells. Hold one in each hand and let your arms hang by your sides or hold them in front of your shoulders. Want a cardio boost? Try power lunges. This movement requires you to jump and switch the front leg to the back and vice versa all at the same time. Talk about a challenge!

4. Broad Jumps 

Total-body moves like broad jumps are also good for boosting your heart rate and pumping up those legs. This exercise builds glute and quad strength through explosive leapfrog movements that are sure to leave you sweating. 

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Drop into a squat and swing your arms behind you. Then, swing your arms in front of you as you jump forward. Flex your hips, knees and ankles to absorb the shock as you land. Sure, it sounds simple, but it’ll leave you sore for days. 

5. Hip Thrusts 

Target your glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, back and hip abductors with hip thrusts. You can either perform this movement with your back against a bench or on the ground with bridge pose. Keep your chin tucked and push through your heels until your hips are parallel to the floor. Squeeze your butt at the end and slowly return to start. 

Of course, busting out a few reps of hip thrusts might feel easy compared to the heavy leg presses you’re used to. However, you can easily make them more challenging by adding weight across your hips or by raising one leg to put more weight on the other. Use resistance bands to really up the ante. 

6. Weighted Wall Sit

Wall sits provide an excellent alternative to leg presses because they work all the same muscles. However, unlike leg presses, this exercise requires a static hold to build strength through increased muscle fiber activation. Ultimately, these static positions will aid in joint stabilization and improve both balance and posture. 

Increase the difficulty by adding a weight plate to your lap. Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and let gravity do the work. Hold your arms out in front of you and try to hold the pose for one minute. Gradually lengthening your time under tension will make it much easier to perform squats and leg presses. 

Stay Swole, Gentlemen 

As you can see, there are plenty of at-home leg press alternatives to keep you swole — no machines necessary. Whether you’re working out at home or at the gym, you can make leg day happen. All you have to do is incorporate these exercises into your routine and put in the work. The next time you go to leg press, you might even notice some improvements or be able to add more weight. 

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