Best Leg Press Machine
Whether you don't feel like doing squats, can't or you need something else to garnish them off with, the leg press is a cornerstone piece of gym equipment. It might even be the best leg machine ever - but here, we reveal the best leg press machine for home or commercial gym use.
The Leg Press Lowdown
TLDR: In this review, I take you through what we believe are possibly the best leg press machines on the market, why and what they do well. We are not paid to make these recommendations and you’ll see no random leg presses from obscure companies, just because we got an affiliate link. 100% legit leg press reviews – lets do it.
- Leg Presses include pin selectorised and plate loaded types
- Leg Presses come in many forms to suit different goals. From increased range of motion to heavy loading
- They are open chain, which means they require no stability muscles like barbell squats – this makes the movement safer.
- In tests – leg presses were shown to offer almost similar benefits to squats.
Our top all-round pick for the best leg press, is the Watson Animal Leg Press – click to read.
The cornerstone of any leg machine workout, and a piece of kit that most use when they begin their workout journey, the leg press is an alternative option in place of squats. While squats require stabilising muscles, some balance, and technique; a leg press provides a way to train the lower body in a controlled safe way for many lifters. I tend to use leg presses alongside squats but more for repping out and aiming for failure as I can do that a lot more peaceably. Failing under a leg press with safety stops, feels a lot nicer than failing under a bar, even with safety bars. For me they are unquestionably one of the best leg machines at the gym.
For some people reading this, the only type of leg press they may have seen is a pin select one down their local leisure centre. But there are a ton of options for types of leg press machines, each with their own unique benefit.
- 45 Degree Leg Press – Best for heavy weight loading – a popular all round pick.
- 70 Degree Leg Press – Good balance between vertical leg press and 45 degree. Can feel a little restricted due to upright body posture.
- Horizontal Leg Press – The deepest range of motion (generally) and higest inertia as you’re not coiled and loaded at the start.
- Selectorised Leg Press – Great for beginners, or where you want to easily pyramid down the weight stack on your own.
- Pivot Leg Press – The angle of footplate drop generally allows for greater depth of leg press.
- Vertical Leg Press – Some prefer this for the additional glute engagement
- Unilateral Split Leg Press – For those that want to do single leg leg pressing without dangling a leg under the foot plate or uncomfortably on top.
Where leg presses vary in their range of motion, and I personally feel some offer very limited squat equalling ATG depth – it’s no surprise that studies have shown that a 45 degree leg press is inferior in hypertrophy results to a back barbell squat. (Source) So, although they don’t offer the same full force engagement as a movement that requires stabiliser muscles, they are a solid option for most lifters and have been shown to increase natural testosterone to those who perform them. (Source)
Former Mr Olympia Jay Cutler swears by low weight high rep leg presses, while Ronnie Coleman made the leg press machine a staple part of his lower body workouts. So, science aside, It’s safe to say, that they’re a valued exercise by those who know a thing or two about growing big legs.
Pin select leg presses are those that have an installed weight stack with the resistance controlled via a steel pin. These are great for those who want to drop set or don’t want to lug big plates around the gym. You can simply reach over to the pin and lower the weight in seconds.
This differs from the Plate Loaded leg press which tends to favour users who want to lift for power or strength. They are a little more robust (generally) and can take a far higher weight load. This absence of a weight stack means they can be cheaper to acquire as the onus is on the gym owner providing a set of weight plates to work with it.
The other advantage of a plate loaded leg press over a selectorised option, is for gyms who need to move equipment around. If you’ve ever been asked to move selectorised gym equipment, you will know what I mean here. They are immovable objects that usually mean calling in a forklift.
For lifters however, it comes down to preference. I feel like a plate loaded leg press offers me the closest sensation to doing a squat but I do like the horizontal nature of most selectorised leg presses, enabling an improved range of motion that just feels nice. If you’re undecided – just do squats!
Picking the best leg press machine to use or to buy involves looking at a few factors, none more important than why you are choosing one:
Gym Owner? Budget – Space – Customer type – Accessibility of equipment into premise – Resale value – Repair/maintenance – Durability
If you’re picking which option as a lifter, you’ll have a different set of things to consider when wondering what leg press to choose:
Muscle Groups: Which part of the leg are you wanting to target – higher foot plates allow for higher placement and more hamstring focus etc.
Foot Plate: Is there enough space for those with differing hip mobility to feel comfortable. Can you point toes out etc
Weight Capacity: Can you max out – can you lift heavily – safely
Safety Catch: Training alone and want to lift for maximal strength?
Seat Adjustment: I find my legs hit into my rib cage and I just don’t get enough depth – so I go for a leg press machine with as close to horizontal settings as possible
Why you can trust our leg press review
So why should you listen to a single word we say?
You might think our reviews are impacted by commissions or back handers we get from gym brands – but sadly you’re wrong. We don’t get a penny. We just review what we like and why we like it. That’s the core of this leg press review. We only recommend what we would like to use ourselves.
I’m sitting here writing this paragraph with legs that can barely walk after one of the hardest leg workout days you can do – we are 100% about this life.
Beyond the emotional side of things, we are also PT trained and carry a range of sports qualifications, so we know about the boring stuff too. You’re in safe hands we hope.
What makes a good Leg Press (To us)?
So what makes the best ones? Well it depends on what you need it for and why you’re asking, but we look at a few focus points in picking the best leg press machines.
We know a lot of gym owners and often think about machines from their perspective, as well as our own as lifters:
- Is the machine comfortable
- Is it adjustable
- Does it have a good foot plate to widen your stance
- Does it look nice
- Is it a credible brand.
- Are they durable, or often out of service
- Does it have the option of good depth
- Is it easy to lock-off or unlock
- Can you go unilateral and train one leg at a time easily enough
- Can it be used by some or all. ‘Old Dears vs Gym Bros’
- We don’t like – tiny foot plates with normal sized feet forced to hang over the edge
- We don’t like – leg presses that make you feel like your feet are tucking behind your knees
- We don’t like – leg presses that have about as much range of motion as a knee bend.
There’s a lot to take in and consider, and if you’re a small gym owner, trying to work out what to go for, with limited space and budget, we hope we give you some inspiration here. For those working out which leg press machine is best for theie mass gain quad workout today, maybe this will help too.
Winners - The Best Leg Press Machines
Teardrop legs don’t build themselves, they need a workout that probably includes a leg press. So, if you’re debating which one to add to your home gym, or which to pick to use this week, here are our top choices for the best leg press machines out there. Click the quick links below to find one that matches your interest most, or just browse on down.
1/6 Best Leg Press Overall
What’s the daddy of them all? What’s the best leg press you can find if you could only have one? It’s the updated Animal Plate Loaded Leg Press from Watson. It can take a pounding, it is completely customisable, and adjustable, and it even has pneumatics. The winner in this category had to be able to offer everything and we have even made sure it is comparable with price too. Sure there are cheaper options than what I’m about to praise, but you wouldn’t want them in your gym and you wouldn’t want to sit under one either.
Watson's Animal Plate Load Leg Press v2
I’ve used it and I’ve seen the latest version being made in the factory – which in itself is a beast of an experience. The v2 has a pneumatic feature which lifts and lowers the back pad for adjustability, as well as having a hand pump feature if the auto doesn’t work. It’s built for beasts, it can handle massive loads, they come customisable down to the leather pattern and they have a unilateral foot plate if you want to train one leg at a time.
It has the lot, and add to that it’s made in the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, my home – Great Britain. The engineering standards are through the roof, and while it’s not a budget option, it’s going to be here long after we have all nuked ourselves.
- A premier name in bodybuilding, a classic piece to own if you’re lucky enough.
- Easy to sell on the secondary market
- Holds value
- Carries enormous weight
- Offers unilateral leg pressing
- Adjustable with pneumatic pump
- Build to Thor and Eddie Hall standards. Never buy another Leg Press!
- Not cheap
- Can take up a lot of space
- Width : 137 cm
- Height : 172 cm
- Length : 250 cm
- Weight : approx 100kg
- Starting resistance : 40 kg
- Max load : 1200 kg
- Brand Appeal – 5/5
- Resale Value – 4/5
- Durability – 5/5
- Cost – 3.5/5
If you own a gym and get lucky enough to see someone flogging one of these second hand – buy it. If you’re in the gym and you see they have one of these, renew your membership. Try out the single leg option on the machine too, it gives insane range of motion and you’ll be feeling DOMs for days.
2/6 Best Leg Press For Space
Space can be a premium in some gyms but you still want a leg press. When it comes to the best leg press for space, if you have vertical clearance, I don’t think you can go wrong with something that borders on being almost a Vertical Leg Press, and while I sometimes give them a bad rap for not being old school enough, I have to tip my hat here to this little number from Primal Strength. A 70 degree leg press. Less floor space but not as terrifying as a VLP.
Primal Strength 70 Degree Leg Press
Leg press machines take up a lot of space, whether they are plate loaded or selectorised, the Primal 70 Degree Leg Press, changes that experience, with this space saving piece of kit.
- Price is decent
- Holds a lot of weight
- Looks good
- Great big foot plate
- Prices drop off hard on the second hand market.
- Brand lacks a little cachet
- Width : 170 cm
- Height : 221 cm
- Length : 180 cm
- Weight: 300 kg
- Max Weight: 800 kg
- Starting Weight: 60 kg
- Brand Appeal – 2/5
- Resale Value – 2/5
- Durability – 4/5
- Cost – 4/5
I can’t hate on Primal all the time, this is an example of credit where credit’s due. It looks good, and while I don’t love a 70 Degree angle for my leg training as I find it impacts the ROM, this is no shade on them, it’s just the nature of that move. As space saving leg presses go, this is a clear winner and deserves its title as the best leg press for small spaces. That feature also makes it a good shout for one of the best leg press machines for a home gym too. Good work Primal.
3/6 Best Leg Press For Range Of Motion & Best 45 Degree Leg Press
I’m going to call out the most comfortable plate loaded leg press I’ve ever used. It’s double seat adjustment means it offers an angle of attack of as low as 20-30 degrees, which makes it a lot more horizontal than other similar leg presses. This offers great range of motion and with a wide foot plate it helps those with inferior hip mobility too.
Technogym Pure Linear Leg Press
When I first come across this model, I was very much in the ‘leg pressing is for wimps’ camp. But after I got send a tidy looking quad workout plan from Lee, I found myself loading it up. What I found was a really comfortable leg press machine that didn’t cause my rib cage to impact the depth of leg press I could achieve.
I didn’t realise this was a special piece of kit, until two different groups of people after, all discussed to themselves how nice it felt as leg presses go. Since then I’ve had two good mates use the machine on my say so, and the feedback is always the same. The Technogym Pure Linear Leg Press is a beautiful machine.
To explain this a little better….jump on a 45 degree leg press or a 70 degree, and notice how much range of motion you get before your knees will crush your body. I was watching two guys train on a Hammer Strength 45 Leg Press the other day and through no cheating of their own, all I saw were ‘knee bends’. If going sub-parallel to the ground in a squat recruits the maximum benefits, how can a leg press which stops well short be anywhere near as good?
- Super comfortable to use
- Looks good
- Holds a lot of weight
- Commercial standard
- Great foot plate width
- Great range of motion with this – I can bring my knees in closer to my body with the lower seat angle
- More expensive than many other plate loaded leg presses
- Aftercare seems to earn them lower reviews than other brands
- Width : 156 cm
- Height : 150 cm
- Length : 269 cm
- Weight: 300 kg
- Max Weight: 480 kg
- Starting Weight : 30 kg
- Brand Appeal – 4/5
- Resale Value – 3/5
- Durability – 5/5
- Cost – 2/5
It is a leg press that when I see it in your gym, I’m using it. Even if it was arms day. Great movement, looks nice, has a nice wide footplate, back pad can run to around a 25 degree angle and it can take a serious amount of weight. A lot to love.
4/6 Best Leg Press For Home Gym
You know what? I don’t hate this. I know I might be the type to give brands like Mirafit a rough ride, because they aren’t Arsenal Strength or Nautilus. But they make affordable kit that almost makes it into commercial gyms. So, if you’re going to kit out a home gym, lifting one of these ‘two in one’ hack squat to leg press machine units, would put you in the elite home gym territory. Find a second hand leg extension and you have a leg day in your back garden.
Mirafit Leg Press and Hack Squat Machine
If you’re going to fit a home gym out and looking at a buying a leg press, you’re in a small minority of show-offs! Leg days at home on a Tuesday aren’t going to do it for me, but each to their own. While I’ve given Mirafit a rough ride at times as not really being heavy duty commercial, it’s definitely a massive step up for a home gym.
This piece of kit means you can have two pieces of equipment for the price of 1. A leg press and then a hack squat. If you have the weight plates and the room, you’ll never have to stand around and wait for the leg press machine again.
- Well priced
- Holds a good amount of weight
- Doesn’t hold resale value as well as other commercial brands.
- Doesn’t feel as sturdy as commercial units.
- Requires some assembly
- Foot plate is a little small
- Width : 160 cm
- Height : 135 cm
- Length : 232 cm
- Weight: 150 kg
- Max Weight: 400 kg
- Starting Weight: ~60 kg
- Brand Appeal – 2/5
- Resale Value – 2/5
- Durability – 3/5
- Cost – 5/5
A great price for what are two corner-stone exercise machines in one. With home use, it’s going to last the test of time providing it’s put together properly. It looks good and being plate-loaded is easier to maintain than a selector machine with cables, wires and pulleys. Really a stand out for us as the best leg press for a home gym.
5/6 Best Leg Press For The Money
I may write a guide just for vertical leg presses, but for now I am going to include a really reasonably priced leg press in this review, and it’s possibly a brand you haven’t heard of. It’s the German gym equipment company, Taurus. Not only have they produced a nice looking bit of kit for less than a grand, it’s space friendly (ish) and does the job.
Taurus Pro Vertical Leg Press
The vertical leg press always feels a bit of an over-engineered move to me, but I know back in the day, pushing a barbell with your feet was a good emergency option if you had no leg press. Still, it’s a favourite for many who appreciate that their is no gravity assist here. You are pushing up and not across, that means the weight coming down on you get’s no assistance.
This VLP from Taurus can be found for less than 1K GBP when bought new, which while it needs weight plates, offers a great shout for us to call this the best cheap leg press. If you had the space, at this price it’s even falling into the home gym category too.
- Great for home gyms with its low price point.
- Could use the bench for overhead tricep press – French press – Bulgarian elevated leg lunges.
- There must be something that can be done to it to use it for more exercises. Seems such a wasted Smith Machine combo.
- Have to put it together yourself
- Limited publicly available product specs
- Width : 121 cm
- Height : 141 cm
- Length : 165 cm
- Weight: 110 kg
- Max Weight: TBC
- Starting Weight: TBC
- Brand Appeal – 1.5/5
- Resale Value – 2/5
- Durability – 4/5
- Cost – 5/5
While you won’t be impressing anyone with the brand name, you can’t help but think for less than a grand, this is a great leg press option for the money. If you’re buying for a gym, I’d give it a wider berth and buy a bigger brand second hand, but if you’re think for your home, you can definitely do worse. The only downside here is that you can’t modify this into some kind of bench press rack as it looks like it’s a few tweaks away from being a versatile station.
6/6 Best Pin Select Leg Press
Whether you’re deciding which one to stick in your workout, or if you should buy one for your home or commercial gym, a pin selector leg press is a common sighting. But what’s the best one? Everyone is different, but I like mine to at least replicate the ROM and power I can drive through a plate loaded option, while others may want the ability to work it unilaterally, or even just be able to reach the pin stack while in the machine. I think I can call this one as I’ve used and hated loads.
Atlantis Horizontal Leg Press (c403)
Atlantis are a tier 1 gym equipment company originating from Canada . They make high quality machines, barbells and more, and are the reserve of well funded gyms. Founded in 1982 by Canadian bodybuilder Raymond Sansoucy, from humble beginnings, they have built a reputation for quality. The c403 has all the heavy handling of a plate loaded machine but in a selectorised format. The adjustable backpad means you can get to a near horizontal position and the footplate is as wide as many plate loaded leg press machines we saw in testing.
- Easy brand to resell
- Built to last
- High credibility
- Big footplate
- Adjustable to low degrees/horizontal
- Heaviest selectorised seen
- 200 kg is great for pin selector but lacking against plate loaded options
- Relies on maintenance of pulleys and cables
- Width : 106 cm
- Height : 205 cm
- Length : 233 cm
- Weight: 400 kg
- Max Weight: 200 kg
- Brand Appeal – 5/5
- Resale Value – 4.5/5
- Durability – 4.5/5
- Cost – 2/5
Not cheap, but no decent pin selector equipment is, as you get more than just the machine, you get the weights too. Atlantis bring one of the biggest names to the party with this bit of kit. At 200kg max weight, it’s more than enough for most gym users, and for repping out – even if it’s capped at a level lower than some are used to lifting. That being said, I swear 200kg on a pin selector feels like 400kg on a 45 degree plate loaded machine. It comes in heavier than its peers in the category and with Atlantis you know it keeps its resale value, while the aftercare will be on point.
This leg press looks lovely and if it’s good enough for D1 Colleges – it is good enough for us.
So there you have it, a ton of the best leg press machines for whatever your needs. Whether it’s the best leg press for a home gym or the best leg press overall. We personally love the Animal Plate Loaded from Watson, you might have you’re own favourite. And if you got the time, why not check out our guide on the best pendulum squats next.
If there is anything we have not explained properly or a bit of kit you think we are mad to dismiss, follow us on IG @barbellsabroad and tell us what to add. Thanks for reading and share us your workout photos if you use the plan above.
Did We Miss Your Leg Press Brand?
If we missed your product or brand and think you deserve a mention we are always open to trialling equipment or learning more about what you do. Feel free to get in touch and if you are extra sweet we may even let you ask us about featured spots in the future.
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