exercises

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Leg Press Alternatives You Can Do With Free Weights

Leg Press Alternatives You Can Do With Free Weights

Leg Press Alternatives You Can Do With Free Weights
Leg Press Alternative

If you’ve ever walked into a busy gym for your leg day, you’ll know that you can’t always secure the exact piece of equipment you need! 

Most small gyms may only have one leg press machine, so chances are if you are at the gym at a peak time, it will already be in use — but that’s no excuse to skip your workout! 

I’m going to show you some leg press alternatives that you can do at the gym — or even at home, to target the same muscle groups! 

Why do leg press (and alternatives!)

The leg press is a key exercise for training legs in the gym. It helps to build muscle, targeting the quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and hips. 

As the leg press is performed in a fixed position, it doesn’t require you to stabilise your core as much, while you are focussing on building strength in the target muscle groups. 

The benefit of these leg press alternatives is that they require you to activate your core muscles more, to stabilise your body during the exercise. 

While the weight you will use in these alternative exercises may be lower than what you’d use on the leg press, the advantage is that you will strengthen the critical small, supportive muscles of your hips, knees and ankles. 

When you have to engage your core muscles for balance during an exercise, you can develop holistic lower-body strength and improve joint and muscle stability. 

Step-up with dumbbells & bench

I love this exercise because it can be suitable for all fitness levels! Make it easier with a lower step, or challenge yourself by increasing the step height and adding weight! 

As you become more confident, you can increase the speed you step at. 

1. Start by placing the bench horizontally in front of you. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, plant both feet on the floor, slightly further than shoulder-width apart.

2. Firmly plant your entire left foot on the bench, making sure your knees are not more forward than your toes.

3. Push through your left heel to extend your left leg. Avoid pushing through your toes to prevent placing additional pressure on your shins, knees, and quads.

4. As you straighten your left leg, lift your right leg and step up onto the bench. Reverse this pattern back to the floor, starting with your left leg.

Repeat, ensuring you complete an even number of repetitions on each side. 

Squat with core trainer 

If the leg press machine is busy, try this exercise with the core trainer! You might not have used this machine before, so why not give it a go! 

You can practice a few repetitions without any extra weight to get comfortable, then add weight to challenge yourself and build your leg and core muscles. 

1. Place weight plates on core trainer. Holding the end of the pole in both hands with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards), plant both feet on the floor, slightly further than shoulder-width apart.

2. Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains within a 45-90-degree angle to your hips.

3. Exhale. Push through the heels of your feet and extend your legs to return to the starting position.

Repeat.

Squat with barbell

This exercise works your core, quads, hamstrings and lower legs. It’s important to use correct form, so start with a light weight and follow the exercise instructions carefully. 

When you are confident with your technique, increase the weight!

1. Safely place a barbell on your shoulders and plant both feet on the floor, slightly further than shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

2. Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains within a 45-90-degree angle to your hips.

3. Exhale. Push through the heels of your feet and extend your legs to return to the starting position.

Repeat.

Wall squat with fitball & dumbbells

This is an alternative for leg press that you can do at home! You’ll just need a fitball and a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells. 

To make it easier, try the exercise without weight. 

1. With your back on fitball against the wall and holding a dumbbell in each hand, plant both feet on the floor, hip-width apart. This is your starting position.

2. Inhale. Looking straight ahead and keeping your back pressed into the fitball, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. 

3. Exhale. Push through your heels and extend your legs to return to the starting position.

Repeat.

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Strengthen your legs without a machine, using leg press alternatives!

These alternative exercises to the leg press mean you can get your leg workout done— even if you can’t get to the gym!

As you would with any other workout, make sure to warm up before you get started. A proper warm up can help to prevent injury and gets blood flowing to the muscle groups you are about to train. 

If you are already following my BBG Stronger program, you can use these leg press alternatives if the leg press machine in the gym is busy. Or, for the BBG ladies following my at-home program, try these exercises for something different!

I hope these exercise alternatives for leg press give you some helpful options to get your workouts done! 

For those ladies looking for more leg exercises, try these glute strengthening exercises next!

Do you have a tip for getting your workout done when the gym is busy? Tell me in the comments below!

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

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