Leg press alternative
If you have ever been to the gym, you must have seen a leg press machine lying casually around. A leg press machine is very common gym equipment and is used by training individuals on alternate days or at least once a week. Leg press is the ultimate workout for your legs and it is what indeed makes ‘leg day’ the most killing and feared day at the gym!
Leg Press: A well-disciplined form of exercise
The thing about leg press is that it is an extremely well-disciplined form of exercise. One of the primary reason it attracts so much criticism from people is only because there is a lot of technicalities involved in using the leg press machine to do it the right way. When done right, the list of benefits associated with it are endless but when done wrong, it can inflict serious injuries on the trainee too.
Why do people look for leg press alternatives?
The only reason why people look for leg press alternative exercises (workouts that would help them to target the same muscles but are not leg press) or substitute ways to do leg press i.e. without the machine is because the actually leg press workout done on the professional machine scares them a great deal.
Leg press alternatives; surely possible!
There is generally a misconception amongst people that you cannot leg press without a machine and if you skip leg press, there is no other way you can target the core leg muscles. Without leg press, leg days are considered to be mostly wasted but this is not the case! In this blog, we are dedicated to talk about leg press alternative exercises and at the same time we will highlight other imperative information about leg press workouts too such as how it is done, what is the right way to do it professionally, what muscles does it target and what some of the benefits are?
Guide to leg press basics
Before we jump to talking about leg press alternatives, it is pivotal that we understand what the original (basic) form of leg press is and how is it done?
Leg press is a body movement unlike no other because it is a short action that has greater impact on the leg muscles. In a very short distance of pushing and pulling with the legs, the leg press exercise is helpful to carve and define the leg muscles to its finest form.
How is it done on the machine?
The machines that are filling up gyms these days and the ones that most of you greatly fear are in fact not that difficult to use. If done right, the benefits obtained are several. It is only important to understand how to do leg press on the professional machine the right way.
- You will need to begin with lying down on your back against the padded support seat.
- Pull up your legs so that they are bend at an angle and pulled apart so much that each leg is aligned with each shoulder. The feet should of course touch flat surface.
- The toes of your feet should be angled inwards or outwards. It is not best to point them straight ahead with no angle.
- Whilst keep your back straight and set against the seat, you need to begin pushing the weights forward with your legs. Begin with slow movements and try to push the weights as farther as you can whilst tightly holding on to the leg press handles with your hands.
- Keep your breathing steady and slow. When pushed to maximum potential, you can now begin to pull the legs back down towards your chest with feet against the weight. Make sure to be as slow and calm as possible to avoid injury.
Types of leg press machines
There are basically two types of leg press machines.
Type 1: Sitting with your back straight
The first kind of commonly used leg press machine is the one on which you sit with your back straight and legs bend. Your feet are flat against weights and you then push the weights up to your own resistance level.
Type 2: Sitting with your feet angled above the head
There is a second type of leg press machine as well. It is the one in which rather than sitting with your back straight, you sit in such a way that your feet are angled right above your head. This way you get the chance to push the weight farther above by straightening your legs against the weights.
What muscles does leg press target?
One of the most important things about leg press is that it is a compound exercise that inflicts a great deal of power and strength on the legs. Hence, it is better known for working on a major part of the leg muscles. This is the reason why on a leg day, doing multiple sets of leg press can be a safe option because in one way or the other, you are working on majorly your entire leg! Let’s break down to see what muscles do leg press work on?
Calves are the muscles beneath your knee up till you ankle. It is basically the muscle that adds shape to your leg. The leg press exercise engages the calves muscles as a secondary form. The basic aim of leg press is to define the calve muscle and to add greater definition to it.
The gluteal are leg muscles that are mainly located in your rear region. So when you engage in leg press, you engage with the complete gluteal muscles. The purpose of targeting the gluteals muscles with leg press is to add thickness and volume to the hip area.
Hamstrings are the lower parts of the thighs, probably right above the knee where the knee and thigh join. Hamstrings are the core muscles that are engaged in all sorts of leg movements.
Leg press works on the quadriceps muscle more than any other muscle. The quadriceps is the front middle parts of your thighs. These muscles offer fundamental support to your thigh for upward or downward movement.
When is leg press on a machine a great option?
There are many other types of leg exercises (that we will talk about in this article ahead) that can easily act as a substitute for leg press. However, the importance of leg press on a machine cannot be overseen too. There are many reasons that make leg press on a machine a great option.
Reason 1: You need support for your back
The first reason why leg press on a professional machine would be a great option is because it works wonderfully well for your back. Other than the leg muscles, it will not put any added strain on to your back which is a huge upside. You get complete support to the back with the heavily padded seat and fixed position with belts.
Reason 2: It is great for weight loss
It is indeed a great option to consider when you are looking to burn fat from the body at the same time of defining your muscles to be sharper.
Reason 3: You will be assisted by an expert
Another reason is the fact that on the machine, you will never be left unsupported or unassisted. There will always be an extra help right on your head assisting your through the weights; holding the bars for you and providing you with encouragement.
Leg press Alternatives
There are several alternate forms of exercises that are available to substitute leg press workout. It is important to remember that the leg press without a machine is possible. So if you are looking for a way to do it without the professional machine, you can surely do it. Moreover, there are other forms of leg workouts that will work on your leg muscles but are not leg press (with or without the machine). We will take a look at all kinds of leg press alternatives.
Doing a leg press without a machine (with bands)
There is one way to do the leg press workout without the leg press machine. This form of leg press workout is done with the help of large exercise bands. The leg presses done without the machine will still target the same group of leg muscles i.e. hamstrings, gluteals, calves and quadriceps. The aim of leg press done with a band will also remain to be the same: to accelerate leg movement, impart strength to leg muscles and define leg muscles.
Upsides of doing leg press with band
There are significant advantages of doing the leg press with a band. They are very light in weight, unlike the heavy weights that you have to push on the machine for resistance. Secondly these bands are portable and can easily be carried around with you indoor or outdoor. The same cannot be said for the leg press machines that are very heavy and mighty and installed within the gym premises.
Drawback of doing leg press with band
The only drawback of doing leg press with a band is that it offers less resistance than what you would be able to get on the professional machine.
How to do it?
There are two ways of doing a leg press with a band.
- By lying down on your back
- By sitting in a fixed position
Let’s take a look at both ways individually.
Lying down on back
The first way to do it is by lying straight on the floor over your exercise mat on your back. You need to remember that placing your back flat against the floor in this position is crucial. You will do leg press with each leg one at a time. So you need to lift one leg and stretch it out straight before holding it up in the air with a band. Use the band to pull and push your leg inward/outward. Repeat the same for your other leg. Doing 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps would be ideal. Remember to hold the leg up in the air in a certain position with a 3 second pause.
Sitting position on the floor
Another way to do the leg press with a resistance band is by sitting on the floor. You can also sit on a bench, stool or high chair for this purpose. You will again fix the band onto your feet in a position that allows you to lift your legs up to your chest. Keep your breathing very slow throughout this process.
Leg press alternative: Dumbbell leg workout
Fearing the leg press machine gives you another form of substitute leg exercise as well. The same unique movement can be achieved with the help of a set of dumbbells. You will surely be able to engage your leg muscles in the same movement with the dumbbell substitute leg press exercise.
One of the biggest challenges that a person can face is to find a substitute for an original professional workout. It is never easy to achieve the same results with another form of workout. Leg press have been for long considered to be a machine workout and replacing them with other forms like the band and now the dumbbell is never easy or simple. However, the core aim is to look for stability and balance in your workout. If you can achieve it any other way (other than the machine workout) you are half way already successful.
How to do dumbbell leg press?
The dumbbell leg press can be done with a few different squat positions. What you will be able to achieve with this movement is identical to doing a leg press on the professional machine. However, in addition to the primary benefits that you get with the leg press on a machine, you also get the chance to achieve many other things with the dumbbell squat including improved core strength, balance and posture improvement as well.
Types of dumbbell substitute squats for leg press
There are basically three different types of dumbbell substitute squats for leg press that you can engage in.
Type 1: Basic dumbbell squat
The basic dumbbell squat is the closest you will be able to come to the original leg press workout with the help of dumbbells. You will need to be in standing position with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet opened in alignment to your shoulders.
Type 2: Goblet squat substitute
This is the second form of squat workout that you engage in as a replacement to the original leg press workout. This you can do by standing straight and pushing yourself down into a bending position. The key is to hold a dumbbell weight in only one hand in this type of exercise because you want to keep the resistance minimal. This exercise works best for the beginners who have not yet developed their core greatly and their resistance level is not much higher too.
Type 3: Dumbbell front squat substitute
The last type of dumbbell squat exercise for leg press substitute is the dumbbell front squat. In this exercise, you will hold two dumbbell weights in each hand instead of just one. The key movement for this type of squat is to swing your arm over the shoulder with each squat. This way when you are putting maximum strain on your legs during the heavy lifted squats, you are adding pressure by lifting the dumbbells weights above your shoulders.
How much weight to carry on each dumbbell for this exercise?
It is a matter of individual preference as to how much weight you want to carry for each squat. You can do light weight dumbbells or heavyweights depending on your core strength and resistance level. It is important that you don’t overdo your ability in this exercise because this a form of leg workout in which you are putting your upper body strength to good use too.
3 leg workouts that work in place of leg press
Whilst above we talked about leg press substitute exercise, it is important to remember that there are 3 other kinds of leg workouts that basically are not ‘substitutes’ or replacements for leg press but work in the same manner and help to achieve the same results.
This is possibly the easiest form of exercise that is surprisingly helpful to achieve somewhat similar results to a leg press but only milder.
Lunges are an easy leg work out that can be done on your own without any added equipment assistance. Of course, you can use weights if you like for this exercise as well. It works best on your buttock muscles.
Leg extensions only target the quad muscles and are very helpful to improve the knee movement of your leg in general. It also works well when you are trying to recover from an injury.