12 Best Leg Workout Machines (Gym And Home Use)

Looking to tone and strengthen your legs? You can use various gym or home machines to achieve your goals. 

This blog post will discuss 12 of the best leg workout machines. We will also provide tips on using these machines safely and effectively to get the most out of your workouts.

And we’ll explain why you should use these in the first place, comparing them with other alternatives.

Keep reading below.

Why Should You Use Gym Leg Machines?

People often ask why they should use leg machines at the gym. First, there is no one answer to this question – it depends on your individual fitness goals. 

However, there are some general benefits that come from using leg machines. 

  • Leg machines can help to target specific muscle groups. For example, if you’re looking to build strength in your quads or hamstrings, then using a leg machine can be an effective way to do so. 
  • Leg machines can improve your balance and coordination. Their added support allows you to challenge your body in new ways and improve your overall proprioception. That way, you can work to scale up your fitness level and incorporate other moves into your routine.
  • Leg machines allow you to mix up your workout routine and stay motivated. If you’re feeling bored with your usual routine, adding in some new exercises on the leg machines can help to shake things up. 
  • Leg machines help you keep the proper form. Let’s be serious; deadlifts, lunges, and squats are all extremely difficult to execute with a challenging weight and good formAs soon as your form starts to waiver, you put yourself at risk for injury. However, leg machines allow you to maintain the proper form more easily and reduce your risk of injury. 
  • Many leg machines also have adjustable weight settings. Therefore, you can start with a lower weight and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger. This is an excellent way to progress in your workouts and see results over time safely.

Now that we’ve discussed why you should use leg machines let’s look at 12 of the best leg machines for gym and home use.

12 Best Leg Workout Machines

There are a variety of leg machines that you can use to tone and strengthen your legs. Here are 12 of the best:

1. The Leg Press Machine: Best For Quads, Hamstrings, And Glutes

leg workout equipment

How to use it:

  • Sit down and place your feet on the platform. 
  • Keep your back flat against the seat and your knees aligned with your toes.
  • Press the weight up using your legs. 
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • Most of these machines have safety stoppers, meaning you will be safe throughout your workout. Safe from what? Well:
  • You can press more weight than you would with a regular squat. That way, you can build more lean muscle faster.
  • You can change your leg position to target your muscles from different angles. For example, bring your feet closer to better target your outer glutes. Or, get your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing out to target your inner thighs.

2. The Leg Extension Machine: Best For Your Quads

leg extension machine for leg workout

How to use it:

  • Sit down and place your feet under the pads. 
  • Slowly extend your legs out in front of you.
  • Keep them there for a second or two.
  • Return to the starting position keeping the same slow pace as during the lift.
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • You can lift more weight than with a regular lunge, thus working your quads more effectively.
  • You’re not straining your lower back when lifting that weight because the chair supports you well.

3. The Leg Curl Machine: Best For Your Hamstrings

what exercise machines are best for legs?

How to use it:

  • Lie down on your stomach.
  • Place your ankles under the pads.
  • Curl your legs up towards your butt SLOWLY. Don’t swing them in an uncontrolled manner.
  • Squeeze your butt for a couple of seconds at the top of the motion.
  • Return to the starting position – also very slowly and controlled.
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • It can strengthen the back of your thighs faster than Pilates kneeling rear leg raises because you can use more weight.
  • It’s safer than doing deadlifts or squats with the same amount of weight – both for your lower back and knees.
  • It’s very relaxing compared to other strength exercises using barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells.

4. The Calf Raise Machine: Best For Your Calves

calf raise machine for calves

How to use it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  • Place your heels on the platform. 
  • Slowly raise your toes so that you are standing on your tiptoes.
  • Squeeze for a moment or two at the top of the motion.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • It helps you improve ankle stability.
  • It allows a fuller range of motion compared to using weights.
  • You can push more weight or do more reps than you usually do, thus increasing calf strength more.

5. The Glute Kickback Machine: Best For Your Glutes

How to use it:

  • Place your hands on the handles and your knees on the pads. 
  • Kick your legs back behind you and return to the starting position SLOWLY.
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • It can strengthen your glutes faster than Pilates kneeling bent rear leg raises because you can use more weight.
  • It doesn’t put pressure on your knees, ankles, and lower back. At least not compared to squats or deadlifts.
  • You can isolate your glutes better. And when you’re specifically working on a body part, you target it comprehensively to reach your goals.

6. The Hip Abduction Machine: Best For Your Outer Thighs

How to use it:

  • Sit down and place your feet under the pads. 
  • Slowly abduct your legs (move them away from the midline of your body).
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • Few other strength exercises target your outer thighs. For example, you can do Pilates leg raises, so-called “fire hydrants,” or standing leg raises wearing ankle weights. However, apart from these exercises, most other strength moves mainly use your outer thighs as supporting muscle groups.
  • Leg raises without ankle weights can tone your outer thighs, but they won’t build more lean muscle.
  • Leg raises with ankle weights aren’t as effective because you can’t lift as much weight. Besides, the weight you lift is split between your outer thighs and outer calves.

7. The Hip Adduction Machine: Best For Your Hips And Inner Thighs

hip adduction machine for hips and inner thigs

How to use it:

  • Sit down and place the pads between your knees. 
  • Slowly adduct your legs (bring them towards the midline of your body).
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • Few other strength exercises target your inner thighs and those that do mostly use your entire leg (e.g., sumo squats or side lunges). However, the hip adduction machine allows you to focus specifically on your inner thighs.
  • The toning moves for your inner thighs allow you to use less weight (e.g., scissor kicks, inner thigh raises). Therefore, they will only tone your inner thighs but won’t help you increase muscle mass in this part of the body.
  • It’s easier on your lower back than other toning or strength exercises. For example, most people dangerously arch their lower backs when they do scissor kicks. Alternatively, they flail their thighs around too much, which decreases the exercise’s effectiveness.

8. The Standing Lunge Machine: Best For Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, And Calves

Also called the Smith Machine, this piece of equipment can be used for different assisted exercises:

  • Lunges
  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Calf raises
  • And more

Although it’s a piece of gym equipment, you can buy a Smith machine for home use – if you have the space.

How to use it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands on the handles.
  • Step forward with one leg and lower your body until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle and your back knee hovers just above the ground. 
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions per leg, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • It keeps you safe, decreasing your injury risk, especially if you’re using heavy weights.
  • It allows you to master proper form, which is especially important to learn if you’re a beginner.
  • It alleviates your lower back from extra tension and muscle strain.

9. The Hack Squat Machine: Best For Quads, Hamstrings, And Glutes

How to use it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands on the handles. 
  • Lower your body down into a squatting position slowly and return to the starting position at the same pace.
  • Do 2-3 sets of eight to ten repetitions, with about 20 seconds in-between sets.

Why you should use it:

  • Pushing down instead of up helps you target your leg muscles differently than a traditional squat. As such, you will tone your legs faster because they will execute different motions than they’re used to.
  • With the machine’s semi-assistance, you will improve your squat in no time.
  • You can use the machine facing backwards to target additional leg muscles.
  • Your quads will be on fire.
  • It’s easier on your back and shoulders compared to a barbell, especially if you can’t rotate your shoulders well enough for that barbell move.

10. Treadmill: Best For Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, And Calves

treadmill for leg workout

How to use it:

  • Stand on the platform and hold onto the handrails. 
  • Fix your emergency stop clip on your clothes.
  • Start walking or running at a pace that is comfortable for you.
  • Adapt the speed and incline to your level to get a more intense workout.
  • Walk/ run for 10-15 minutes to get an effective workout. However, if your body isn’t there yet, you can always start with just one minute or two.

Why you should use it:

  • It’s easier on the knees and ankles than running outside.
  • You have in-built programmes that allow you to train effectively. For example, you have pre-programmed HIIT routines that burn fat stores post-exercise and incline walking workouts to build muscle strength.
  • You can walk backwards and sideways on your treadmill, thus targeting your legs from different directions.
  • You gain functional strength.
  • You can always purchase a treadmill for your home gym.

Read more: Muscles Worked by a Treadmill

11. Rowing Machine: Best For Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, And Calves

rowing machine for leg workouts

How to use it:

  • Sit down and place your feet on the footplates. 
  • Grasp the handlebars and row forward.
  • Increase the resistance and speed to challenge yourself according to your fitness level.

Why you should use it:

  • A rower allows you to strength train your entire body.
  • You’re doing comprehensive movements with your legs, thus targeting most muscle groups in that part of the body.
  • You can pick the precise type of rower and programme for your goals. For example, a magnetic rower with high resistance is best for strength training and building muscle. An air rower is better for HIIT or combined cardio and strength.
  • If you have enough space in your home, there are plenty of gym-quality rowers to consider. 

Read more: Muscles Worked by a Rowing Machine: The Complete List

12. Spin Bike:  Best For Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, And Calves

spinning bike for legs

How to use it:

  • Sit on the seat and place your feet on the pedals. 
  • Start pedalling at a pace that is comfortable for you.
  • When you feel comfortable enough, increase the speed and resistance.
  • Stand up to add some variety to your workout.

Why you should use it:

  • Spin bikes usually have a slew of incorporated workouts that help you achieve your fitness goals.
  • You can target your lower body more comprehensively than with other stationary bikes because you can stand on your spin bike.
  • The perceived effort is lower than with running because you have the option to sit down. However, the caloric burn and muscle work are about the same.
  • Gym spin bikes have more options to adjust your routine’s parameters (e.g., Watts, higher programme variety, higher weight limit). However, some spin bikes are foldable and portable, meaning you can easily find room for one of these in your home. 

Read more: The 8 Main Muscles A Spin Bike Works (Explained)

How Often Should You Exercise Your Lower Body?

You should exercise your lower body at least two to three times per week. This frequency will help you to see results and build strength in your legs. 

Remember to focus on progressive overload by gradually increasing the amount of weight that you are using. This strategy ensures that you continue to see results over time, decreasing your injury risk.

Wrap Up

As you can see, there are a variety of leg machines that you can use to tone and strengthen your legs. Choose the ones that best fit your goals and start working out!

But first:

If you’re new to using leg machines, starting with lower weights and gradually increasing the amount of weight you’re using is essential. It’s also important to focus on proper form and technique. Ask a certified personal trainer or fitness instructor for help if you’re unsure how to use a particular machine.

Mary D. Brown

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