8 Best Leg Press Alternative Exercises (With Pictures)

Last Updated: June 16, 2023

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If you want to focus on your quads and glutes, leg presses are a great compound exercise. However, you may not have access to a leg press machine, or you may be looking for ways to mix up your leg workout. In this article, we will discuss various leg press alternatives that you can do without a machine. We will also provide tips on how to execute each variation properly.

There are bodyweight and machine-based leg press alternatives available. You should be able to find an option that suits your needs and capabilities. 

Let’s get started:

Barbell Hack Squat

When it comes to working the legs, few exercises can match the hack squat in terms of either muscle activation or overall effectiveness. For starters, the hack squat is a compound movement, meaning it works multiple muscles groups at once. Most notably, it targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Additionally, the hack squat is an excellent exercise for building explosive lower-body power. This is due in part to the fact that you start each rep from a dead stop. In other words, there’s no momentum to help you through the lift.

Not only does this make the hack squat more challenging, but it also forces your muscles to work harder. As a result, you’ll see better results in terms of both muscle growth and strength gains.

Here is how to hack squat:

  • Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your toes turned out slightly. Holding a barbell in behind your thighs with an underhand grip, kneel down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Keeping your back straight and your knees behind your toes, drive up through your heels to return to the starting position.

Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise for people who are looking to improve their leg strength and flexibility. This exercise can be performed with or without weights, making it perfect for people of all fitness levels.

To do a Bulgarian split squat, start by standing in a split stance, with your left foot forward and your right foot back. Next, bend your knees and lower your hips until your front thigh is parallel to the ground. From here, press through your heels to return to the starting position.

If you’re using weights, hold a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length by your sides. For an extra challenge, try performing the exercise with one leg elevated on a chair or bench.

Weighted Wall Sit

If you’re looking for a challenging leg exercise that will help you build strength and stamina, try a weighted wall sit.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by standing with your back against a wall. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and lower yourself down into a sitting position, keeping your back against the wall.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can. To make it more challenging, try holding a weight in your lap or out in front of you.
  • As you get stronger, you can increase the amount of time you hold the position, or the amount of weight you use.

Wall sits are a great way to build leg strength and endurance. They’re also a good alternative to leg presses and other machines at the gym.

Barbell Step-Ups

The barbell step-up is another challenging leg exercise that will help build strength and power. This move requires you to lift your entire bodyweight up onto a raised platform, making it a great alternative to the traditional leg press.

Here’s how to do barbell step-ups:

  • Start by placing a barbell across your shoulders, behind your head, and standing in front of a raised platform.
  • Step one foot onto the platform, driving through the heel to stand tall.
  • Keeping your core engaged, step your other foot up onto the platform, bringing both feet together.
  • Reverse the movement by stepping one foot back down to the ground, followed by the other. That’s one rep.
  • Perform 8-10 reps on one side before switching legs and repeating on the other side.

Resistance Band Leg Press

The resistance band leg press is a great alternative to the traditional leg press and offers a number of benefits. It is a great way to build strength and can be done with minimal equipment. The resistance band leg press can be performed with either one or two bands, depending on your level of fitness.

To do the resistance band leg press, lie on your back with your knees bent and the resistance band underneath the arches of your feet. Holding the other end of the resistance band with both hands, bring your hands to your chest in order to put maximum strain on the band. Bring your knees to your chest while keeping your hips on the ground. Push your legs away from you until they are straight against the resistance band. Contract your quadriceps towards the conclusion of the movement. Return your knees to your chest.

If you are new to resistance training, start with one band. As you get stronger, you can add an additional band or increase the resistance of the band you are using. You can also try different variations of this exercise, such as placing the band(s) around your thighs or performing the exercise with one leg at a time.

This exercise is a great way to build strength and power in your legs, as well as improve your range of motion. The resistance of the band helps to target specific muscles groups, making this an ideal exercise for those looking to tone their legs.

Dumbbell Walking Lunges

If you’re looking for an exercise that will tone your legs and improve your cardiovascular fitness, then look no further than the dumbbell walking lunge. This move is a great alternative to the leg press and other exercises that work the same muscle groups.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do them:

  • Start by standing with your feet together and holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
  • Take a large step forward with your right foot, then lower your body down into a lunge position by bending both knees.
  • Be sure to keep your chest lifted and your weight in your front heel as you lower down. Your front knee should be behind your toes when you reach the bottom of the movement.
  • From there, push back up to standing, using the momentum to take another large step forward with your left foot. Repeat this movement until you have completed the desired number of repetitions.

Smith Rack Squats

These exercises offer a number of benefits, including being able to target specific muscles, increasing range of motion, and providing stability during the exercise.

To do a Smith Rack squat, start by placing the barbell on the rack at about shoulder height. Once the bar is in place, step under it and position it across the back of your shoulders. Grab the bar with both hands and lift it off the rack. Step backwards until your legs are straight before lowering yourself down into a squatting position. When your thighs are parallel to the ground, drive up through your heels to return to the starting position.

When performing smith rack squats, it is important to keep your back straight and your core engaged. You will also want to make sure that you descend slowly and under control. As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees out and your weight in your heels. When you reach the bottom of the squat, press through your heels to return to the starting position.

One of the great things about smith rack squats is that they can be easily varied to target different muscle groups. For example, you can place your feet wider apart to target your inner thighs or closer together to work your outer thighs. You can also hold weights in your hands to increase the difficulty of the exercise.

Overall, smith rack squats are a great exercise for toning and strengthening your legs. They are relatively simple to perform and can be done with or without weights.

Sissy Squats

The Sissy Squat is a great leg exercise that can be done with no equipment. It works the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It is a great alternative to the leg press and other exercises that require machines or weights.

There are many benefits to doing the Sissy Squat. It helps to build strong legs, it is good for your posture, and it can help you to burn fat. The Sissy Squat is also a very safe exercise to do, as there is no chance of injury if you do it correctly.

To perform a sissy squat, start by positioning your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing forward. Grasp a stable item approximately hip-height for balance. Then, bend your knees and lean backward. Your heels should lift off the ground and you should be on your toes at the bottom of the move. To return to the starting position, push through the balls of your feet and stand up tall. Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Doing the Sissy Squat is a great way to build strong legs without using any equipment. It is also a safe exercise that comes with many benefits. If you are looking for an alternative to the leg press or other machine-based exercises, then give the sissy squat a try.


The leg workout routines we just described in this article target every lower-body muscle and are beneficial for everything that matters: strength, power, and size. These exercises don’t require a leg press machine, making them ideal for those who don’t have access to one or simply want to add variety to their leg routines. Give these alternatives a try and see how they help you reach your fitness goals.

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