7 Best Home Gym Leg Press Alternatives: Exercises to do Without Machine

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Written By Samarjit Sinha

Working out for 10 years | Has a home gym | CPD (UK) Certificate holder in Fitness

7 Best Home Gym Leg Press Alternatives: Exercises to do Without Machine

Looking for a home gym leg press alternative? In this article, I’ll explore a variety of options to help you target those lower body muscles effectively. From the classic barbell squat to Bulgarian split squats, goblet squats, and more, we’ll dive into the techniques and muscle groups each exercise engages. Plus, you’ll discover why these alternatives aren’t just the same as squatting and how they offer unique benefits. If you’re considering adding a leg press machine to your home gym, I’ll also weigh in on the pros and cons, helping you make an informed decision based on factors like cost, space, and your fitness goals.’

And I do not want people to buy hack squat machine as leg press alternative. For your muscle hypertrophy, abrbell, weight plate and a strength training plan is enough. You do not need a separate machine like a smith machine at all. I would ask you to do full range of motion squats with moderate weight with proper breathing.

Your overall exercise form, compound exercises combined with bodyweight exercises will help you obtain better physical fitness as a couch potato.

Home Gym Leg Press Alternatives
A hack squat machine

The Top home gym leg press alternative

(No isolation exercises.)


Barbell Squat or Front Squat

The barbell squat is a great leg press alternative for those with home gyms. It’s not only a versatile exercise that can adjust to meet your fitness needs, but also incredibly effective at targeting your quads – the primary muscles worked during a leg press. If you want to engage your glutes more, consider performing a barbell back squat.

barbell squat research

To do a barbell squat, set the barbell at your collarbone height, ensure your grip is slightly broader than your shoulders, position your trapezius muscle against the barbell, engage the midsection, and make sure your feet are planted firmly on the ground. Inhale and initiate your squat.

Try going down until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as close as you can get), then straighten your legs to return to standing position.

As per a study done by J Hum Kinet. done in the year of 2016 confirms that both squat and leg press works the same muscles. The study also says that for better dynamic execution, one should always prefer barbell squat.

Bulgarian split squat vs barbell squats

Bulgerian Split Squats

Bulgarian split squats are an excellent way to work out the same lower body muscles as a leg press. This unilateral exercise helps you to build balance and strength on each lower limb individually, leading to improved steadiness and injury prevention.

To perform a Bulgarian split squat, you’ll need a bench or sturdy chair and optionally, a set of dumbbells for added resistance. Stand in front of the bench or chair with your back facing it, and place your foot backward on it. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, if used.

If you keep your feet close then it will target your quads more and if you extend a bit, you will target your glute more.

You can even do jumping bulgerians, this is a monster bodyweight exercise.

Now, bend your knees until they form 90-degree angles, with your front knee aligning with your ankle to avoid undue strain. Push on your front heel and elevated foot’s toes to come back to the original standing position.

This exercise greatly activates the glutes, especially at the most lowered point of the squat. The elevated back foot enables increased hip stretch, reducing knee pressure and offering a comfortable bend to the forward leg. It’s an ideal leg press alternative for an efficient lower body workout, particularly if heavy leg press loads are unmanageable for you.

Goblet squat vs barbell squat

Goblet squat

Goblet squats offer an excellent leg press alternative for those without access to gym machines, providing an almost parallel activation of muscles, particularly the quads. They are convenient and easy-to-learn exercises that require just a kettlebell or dumbbell, making them an adaptable addition to any workout routine – whether at a gym, at-home, or on the road.

To perform a goblet squat, hold your kettlebell or dumbbell against your chest – if using a kettlebell, grab it by the “horns,” and if it’s a dumbbell, stand it up vertically and clutch one end of it. Stand straight with a shoulder-width stance and toes pointed slightly out.

Begin your squat by bending at the hips and knees, ensuring to keep your chest up and maintain an upright position. Let your elbows be inside your knees’ line, and once your knees form a 90-degree angle or your hips reach below parallel, pause for a brief 1-2 seconds. Extend your hips and knees while exhaling to stand back up, pushing through your heels – remember to squeeze your quads at the top of the rep.

Thus, goblet squats, usually performed as the first, second, or third exercise, can serve as a valuable inclusion in your home gym routine. They aren’t as taxing as barbell squats, nor do they load the spine, making them equally manageable for beginners and experts.

Lateral Lunges

Another effective alternative to the leg press is the lateral lunges. They target the outer sides of your quads, strengthening not only your glutes, hamstrings, and quads like a regular lunge but hitting them from a different angle. This exercise primarily focuses on the side region of your glutes, cradling many of your hip-stabilizing muscles, and activates your inner and outer thighs, enhancing your balance.

To perform a lateral lunge, start with your feet placed shoulder-width apart. Keep your right foot grounded and release your left foot. Make a step toward your left, transferring your weight into the left leg. Next, use your left foot to push you back to the initial position. Similarly, alternate with the right foot.

While taking the step, bend the knee of the lunging leg, ensuring that the other remains straight. Exhale as you use the lunging foot to return to your original stance, and keep alternating between both sides. Remember to inhale as you take each step out and maintain a straight and active torso throughout the lunge sequence.

This exercise, though underrated, brings benefits of the leg press and more. Training quads and glutes, building strength, balance, and mobility in your lower body. It is an effective leg press alternative for those seeking a versatile exercise for their home gym. Regular incorporation of lateral lunges into your workout routine can significantly improve your body’s overall performance.

I do reverse lunges since I once felt some knee pain.

Resistance band leg press, laying down

If you’re looking for a low-impact leg press alternative that you can do anywhere, a resistance band leg press is an excellent choice. This exercise provides a similar workout to a standard leg press, focusing primarily on the quads, and is particularly beneficial for those who struggle with heavy weights.

As an added benefit, any exercise using resistance bands tends to become harder towards completion as the band’s resistance increases with stretch, promoting a more thorough muscle workout.

To perform a resistance band leg press:

  1. Lie on your back on a yoga mat or carpeted area with your knees bent.
  2. Position the resistance band under your feet, with the other end held in your hands. Your hands should be close to your chest.
  3. Tuck your knees to your chest (ensure your hips remain in contact with the floor).
  4. Push your legs away from your chest against the resistance band.
  5. Squeeze your quads at the end of the movement.
  6. Reverse the motion, bringing your knees back towards your chest.
  7. Repeat this exercise for 8 to 12 reps for an effective lower body workout.

Resistance band leg presses offer an affordable and easy-to-implement alternative to traditional leg press machines, enabling you to work out your leg muscles effectively without the need for heavy, expensive equipment. This leg press at-home alternative is easy to do but not great for developing strength or hypertrophy.

7 Best Home Gym Leg Press Alternatives: Exercises to do Without Machine 1

Plyometric Exercises: Broad Jump

As a plyometric exercise, the Broad Jump is an excellent leg workout that develops explosive strength and optimizes your fast-twitch muscle reactions. This type of exercise is especially beneficial for activities needing an intense energy burst, such as sprinting.

If you can do broad jump then you don’t need a leg press machine at home.

You are athletic already 🙂

The Broad Jump, or the Standing Long Jump as it’s sometimes called, activates your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, abductors, and calves. To make the workout more challenging, consider wearing ankle weights when performing the exercise.

Here’s how to do the Broad Jump:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Drop into a squat by bending your knees and pushing your hips back. Swing your arms behind you.
  3. Swing your arms forward and push your feet into the ground. Explode forward.
  4. Land on your feet. Flex your hips, knees, and ankles to absorb the force.
  5. Begin the next jump immediately, or rest before jumping again.
  6. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions of the jump.

Users should take care when doing the Broad Jump. While it provides a comprehensive workout, its high-impact nature could cause discomfort to those with joint pain. Ensure to always have a controlled landing in a squat position, paying attention that your knees do not extend past your toes or collapse inward.

Overall, Broad Jump offers a robust workout that will help to build leg strength through explosive movements. This jump combines a squat and full extension of your lower body, making it an excellent leg press alternative.


Another leg press alternatives include the Step-ups. You can use stepups for building unilateral strength, engaging the same muscles as the leg press, and a few more. They mimic the starting position and depth, and beyond, of your standard leg press, thus targeting your glutes and quadriceps effectively. Also, they require the individual to start at the bottom of the movement, meaning that you must lift your body to the platform and then lower it.

To do Step-ups:

  1. Start by grabbing a pair of dumbbells and a step box, or bench (higher is more difficult).
  2. Stand in front of the step, with one foot firmly planted flat and arms relaxed at your sides.
  3. Using your leading leg, push through the heel and lift yourself onto the top of the box. Your following leg meets your leading leg on top of the box.
  4. Once you reach the top, lower yourself by dropping your following leg back to the floor.
  5. Alternate leading legs. Repeat.

Keep in mind the following tips for beginners:

* Start with a box around mid-shin height. This helps you focus on the technique.

* For a more significant contraction through the leading leg, lift your body pushing through the heel and avoid pushing off the floor with the following leg.

Step-ups are a fantastic functional, unilateral, multi-joint exercise that significantly develops your quads, glutes (and core). Consider including them in your regular home gym leg workout for balance and symmetry development.

Is a Leg Press Alternative the Same as Squatting?

No, a leg presses are not same as squats. Squats are dynamic and employ a lot of stabilizer muscles. But in case of leg presses the angle is fixed and it laser focuses on your quads only.

What Works the Same Muscles as a Leg Press?

Several exercises work the same primary muscles as a leg press. These muscles include the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, collectively known as your leg muscles. Various leg exercises can effectively target these muscles just as well as a leg press. Here are some notable examples:

  1. Squats: Whether it’s a barbell squat, goblet squat, or Bulgarian split squat, all squat variations primarily work the quadriceps. They also engage your glutes, hamstrings, and in many cases, your core and back muscles for stability.
  2. Lunges: Whether they are standard, reverse, or lateral lunges, they are all quite effective at challenging your quads, glutes, and hamstrings similarly to a leg press.
  3. Step-ups: Apart from mimicking the depth of leg press, step-ups also work your quadriceps at a higher intensity, along with your glutes and hamstrings.
  4. Plyometric exercises: Broad jumps, box jumps, jump squats, and other dynamic movements engage your quads, glutes, and hamstrings while also improving muscular power and explosiveness.

Remember, ensuring proper form is crucial with all exercises to prevent injury and maximize benefits. Always consult a fitness professional if uncertain about an exercise’s correct form.

Can You Do A Leg Press with Dumbbells?

Not really, but you can do leg press with kettlebells. To do leg press with dumbbells you would need to strap those with yoru feet somehow.

Should I buy a leg press for home gym?

Purchasing a leg press machine for a home gym largely depends on individual needs, goals, available space, and budget. Here are pros and cons to consider:


  1. Targeted workouts: The leg press allows for concentrated lower-body training, focusing on your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
  2. Adjustable resistance: A leg press machine lets you easily adjust the weight resistance, accommodating progressing strength levels.
  3. Safer for heavy loads: With a leg press, you can safely lift heavy weights without a spotter, which is not always feasible with free weight exercises such as squats or lunges.


  1. Cost: Leg press machines tend to be costly. Additional costs may include maintenance and potential gym flooring to support the heavy equipment.
  2. Space: These machines take a significant amount of space. Make sure your home gym can accommodate the size before purchasing.
  3. Limited to lower body: The leg press is designed specifically for lower body strength; it won’t contribute to your upper body or full-body workouts.

If your budget and space allow, a leg press can be a valuable addition to your home gym. However, it’s good to remember that many alternative exercises can effectively work the same muscles without the need for such a large piece of equipment. As shown in this article, exercises like squats, lunges, and Bulgarian split squats can provide similar benefits.

The Last Rep!

In conclusion, when it comes to finding the right home gym leg press alternative, exercises that target the gluteus maximus, hamstring, calf, and thigh muscles are key. Incorporating weight training and utilizing anatomical terms of motion can help you effectively engage these muscle groups. It’s important to consider the thorax and vertebral column alignment during exercises like Bulgarian split squats to avoid strain or injury. Pay attention to the position of your toes and maintain proper tension in the muscles to maximize results.

Be mindful of the impact on the human back and potential risks associated with certain exercises. If you experience back pain, adjust your form and technique accordingly. The squatting position and exercises that target the gluteal muscles can be beneficial, but ensure proper form and avoid excessive strain. Consider incorporating land mine exercises or using a cable machine squats for added variety and challenge.

Consider using a rack to support exercises like squats and ensure the safety of your clavicle and other joints. Opt for equipment made of durable materials like steel and utilize anchors for stability. Bodyweight exercises can be effective, especially when targeting the gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles.

In short, don’t overspend on machines. There are plenty of leg press alternatives which does not cost a lot of money.

About The Skinny Author

Author HomeGymindia.in

Working Out for 10 years | Owns a home gym |Certificate course done on Improving Aerobic Fitness, Diet | CPD (UK) Accredited Certification on Fitness

Yo Friends, this is Samarjit! A skinny guy who is building his tiny home gym.

I have successfully gained 10 kgs in 10 months going to commercial gyms. And I have been working out on and off for about 10+ years now.

I have gone swimming, done martial arts, Olympic lifts and body-building-type workouts!

I canceled the gym subscription as I was more into making my home gym for workouts. And getting ready, then getting my cycle and ride to the commercial gym seemed a drag after 10 hours in the office.

Thus, I needed a home that I could access at any moment!
And I started building my home gym!

I had to research a lot to build my home gym and decided to share effective, budget-friendly home gym machines, and nutrition to buy as per your goals here in homegymindia.in

If you have question then contact me here

Ps: The author is highly experienced with making small workout routines, understanding and guiding people to get gym equipment, and setting up the home gym as per their Fitness goals.

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