Compact build makes this perfect for home gyms big and small. Parts are sturdy and set up is quick and easy. Allows for squats, push ups, and sit ups. Adjustable settings. Can incorporate resistance bands and dumbbells.
Heavy construction. Recommended for dedicated users.
Super lightweight. Great for users needing extra stabilization or those that want to safely maintain strength in their lower bodies without weights.
Not much resistance; may not be challenging enough for those looking for a push.
Made from very solid and durable parts. Straightforward use and easy to adjust. Excellent functionality, no wobbly pieces or uncomfortable padding.
The larger 45-pound plates are not compatible, you'll need to stick with 35- or 25-pound plates.
Easy to assemble. Quiet and demands very little space in use and in storage. Decent resistance and a unique "twisting" motion for solid lower body workout.
Overall, a somewhat flimsy machine. Larger users may find it very unsteady.
Made of durable, high-quality materials. Will take a pounding and continue to hold up. Great for isolating the hamstrings. Designed to protect back and knees.
It's the type of machine you'd see in a commercial gym, and it has a price tag to match.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Any comprehensive workout requires balance. Balance between pushing and pulling, cardio and weights, exerting and recovering, upper body and lower body. Every exercise and body part needs to be treated equally if you want to have a successful time working out. For all your focus on arms, shoulders, and abs, you don’t want to forget your legs. And a great way to work out the legs is with the right leg machine.
There are many different leg machines available for your home gym, all designed to help strengthen and tone the various muscles in your lower body. Some machines are smaller and focus on one or two exercises, while larger machines can be used for a broader range of exercises. It’s important to identify what you want to get out of your leg machine and how it fits in with your fitness goals.
Our buying guide can help you identify the leg machine that’s best for your fitness regimen. We’ve also included some of our favorites to make your shopping even easier.
First and foremost, consider where you are and where you want to be in your fitness journey. Some leg machines may improve cardiovascular fitness, but their primary purpose is to strengthen the legs. Strength training involves toning muscles and adding muscle. Toning exercises work toward eliminating fat while outlining and highlighting the muscles by using light to medium weight with lots of reps and sets. Adding or bulking up muscle involves more weight and fewer reps, with the weight increasing with subsequent sets. Before buying a leg machine, make sure it will serve your needs and help you reach your goals.
If you have other exercise equipment at home, consider how a leg machine will integrate with it. Does the machine complement your other gear or is there some redundancy? You don’t want to buy superfluous equipment, but you also want to make sure that your fitness regimen includes all your target areas.
The lower body is made up of a variety of muscle groups, and leg machines can focus on one or two or all of them. It’s important to know where these muscles are and generally what they do in order to have a balanced workout. These are the primary muscles targeted by leg machines.
Glutes: There is a lot of muscle in your bum that should be regularly worked out. Doing squats is probably the most popular and well-known way to tone and shape your rear. Using a step platform is another way to tone your gluteus muscles.
Hamstrings: The back of your upper leg is a, perhaps surprisingly, important part of your body that aids in overall flexibility, balance, and strength. Hamstrings help you walk, run, and perform any number of activities and can hinder your movement if they’re weak or sore. This group of muscles and tendons should be stretched before and after working out. Leg machines, squats, and dead lifts can help strengthen the hamstrings.
Quads: The quadriceps, or quads, are the muscles in the front of your thighs. As we’ve mentioned, balance is important when exercising, so give equal time to your quads. Lunges, leg presses, and leg extensions help strengthen the quads.
Calves: The back of your legs below the knee includes the calf muscles. These should also be stretched before and after your workout. Calf muscles can easily be targeted and incorporated into workouts. One way to build calf strength is to use a stair stepper or do heel raises on a step platform, with or without added weights.
Some leg machines are small, adjustable, and even foldable, providing convenience and ease of use. Others are more elaborate benches or machines that take up more space and can’t be easily moved. Think about where the machine will go and whether you want it to be a permanent fixture. Also keep ceiling height in mind, particularly with devices like climbing machines.
Leg press: The leg press is among the most common and popular ways to work out your lower body. To use it, you sit in a reclined position and push weights with your legs. This machine strengthens and tones quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Leg extension: You sit on this machine with your knees bent, tucking your shins under a padded bar. Straightening and extending your legs tones and strengthens your quads. Changing the direction your toes are pointed can work different parts of your quadriceps.
Leg curl: You sit on this machine with your calves extended on top of a padded bar. Bending your legs works your hamstrings and calves. Some leg machines can be used for both leg extensions and leg curls.
Step machine: Step machines may be simple or complex but they target all the main muscle groups, particularly calves and glutes, as well as tone and burn fat. Because they vary in size and price, they can accommodate different consumer needs.
Squat machine: As mentioned, squats are the go-to exercise for toning and shaping your glutes, while also working out your entire lower body and strengthening your core. There are many ways to perform squats: without any equipment, with free weights, or on machines, and there are many different ways to perform squats on machines. These machines can be used for both toning and strengthening, depending on the amount of weight you add to the machine.
Workout bench: Benches are popular items in gyms because they can be used for a variety of exercises. They can also be relatively cheap and easy to store, making them useful for home gyms, too. Step-ups, lunges, curls, and extensions are among the possible exercises you can do with a workout bench.
Platform and box: These simple, cheap, and effective items are used for step-ups, lunges, jumps, and raises targeting calves, quads, and glutes. They offer versatility and can be combined with free weights to focus on the core and upper body. These are ideal for toning and strengthening.
Bluetooth speaker: Ultimate Ears Boom 2
Music can help motivate you as you work out. This Bluetooth speaker by UE is easy to transport and provides high-quality, comprehensive sound.
Water bottle: Simple Modern Insulated Bottle
It’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after your workout. We love this insulated, durable, and colorful option from Simple Modern.
Fitness tracker: Fitbit Versa 2
A tracker like the wildly popular Fitbit helps you monitor steps, heart rate, calories burned, and general activity. Use one to chronicle your fitness journey.
Ankle weights: Gaiam Ankle Weights
You can add a little more resistance to some of your exercises by wearing ankle weights. This set from Gaiam is comfortable and colorful, great for steps, squats, and other leg exercises.
Yoga mat: Jade Harmony Yoga Mat
A yoga mat is a versatile addition to any fitness regimen. This mat from Jade Harmony provides comfort, traction, and durability for stretching, meditating, recovery, and even squats and lunges, and it comes in a dozen colors.
Inexpensive: For under $100, you can find a simple machine like a stepper for home use. Boxes and platforms are in this price range as well.
Mid-range: Spend between $100 and $300 and you can find more elaborate workout machinery, from utility benches to machines for leg curls, extensions, and presses.
Expensive: Comprehensive home gym machines that include a bench or leg press cost $300 and more. These offer a variety of workouts targeting all the muscles in your lower body and even your core and upper body as well.
Be honest about your abilities. Before shopping for a leg machine, you should already be committed and motivated to exercise. Don’t seek inspiration from a purchase.
Stretch. To protect your body, make sure to stretch before and after your workout. Yoga is a good way to incorporate flexibility into your fitness regimen.
Schedule in recovery days. You can’t and shouldn’t work out every day. Your muscles need time to recover, so add rest days to your workout schedule.
Know your muscles. Exercise success means knowing what muscles you’re working and what they do. Make sure to balance your regimen so you work all muscles equally.
Perfect your form. Every exercise and machine requires proper form to not only get the most out of the workout but also prevent injury. Take your time learning how to perform each exercise.
Leg machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and you may not see what you need in our matrix. Fortunately, we found a few more worth investigating. We like the Leg Master Slim toning and strengthening machine, which utilizes an easy, lateral gliding motion to work your glutes, calves, and core.
We also like the well-priced, heavy-duty Body-Solid Powerline Vertical Leg Press. It’s comfortable and holds up to 400 pounds, like equipment you’d find at the gym.
Last, we like the inventive Hurbo Vertical Climber. It offers a full-body workout specifically targeting glutes, calves, and quads for a great price.
Q. What machine offers the best leg workout?
A. That depends on your fitness goals and what equipment you need to reach them. There are many machines that target the main muscles in your lower body while also working your core and upper body. However, you may already have gear to work your upper body. What’s more, some machines are better at toning than building muscle. Whether you want to target a specific area or get a general workout will determine what machine is best for you.
Q. Should I get a machine for my upper body?
A. Balance is important when working out. A machine that works your upper body may be useful if you have a leg machine. However, you can do exercises to work the upper body that don’t require the use of a machine. What’s more, some equipment that’s used to work the lower body, such as boxes and platforms, can be used to work the upper body as well.
Q. What offers a better workout: machines or free weights?
A. Leg machines and free weights aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, many people recommend a combination of both. Lunges with weights can work both your upper and lower body, as can using a step platform. While machines offer stability and support, free weights work your core and balance reflex, which means both options offer benefits.