Gym Leg

You don’t have to be an athlete to have or want strong legs. One of the most popular methods to build up leg strength is using a leg press, a type of resistance training exercise. A specialist piece of machinery is needed for this, often found in a gym, which allows you to push your legs against a set of weights. You can adjust the weights in the machine yourself, steadily increasing the weight to build up the muscle. Just performing this one exercise can target your quads, glutes, hamstrings, hips, and calves. Additional benefits include reducing the risk of a leg injury and counteracting age-related muscle loss.

For many, getting access to one of these machines is impossible. Gym memberships can be expensive, and some people may not have access to one, and the machines are costly to buy yourself. While home leg press machines are also available, many people simply do not have space in their homes for large machines. Luckily there are some other great exercises that can also strengthen your legs, and they can be done in the comfort of your own home without using a leg press machine.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are great fitness accessories and are much cheaper than a leg press, but they do the same job and replace the weight of a leg press machine. Using them will work the same muscles but are small, portable, and compact, so they are great for travel and home use.

There are a couple of ways to use the resistance bands. Laying down allows you to work against gravity. To perform this exercise, you can lay face up on a mat and bend your knees to create a 90-degree angle, wrap the bands around your feet, and keep hold of the other end. Push your legs up until they are straight, bend them back to a 90-degree angle, and repeat 8 to 12 times. This routine can be performed well with the help of a resistance band bar. 

Another method of using the bands is by sitting on a chair. This is the same exercise as the previous one, but you are pushing your legs out in front of you this time. If you want to increase the resistance, like adding more weights to a leg press, you can use shorter or thicker bands. 


Squats can be done pretty much anywhere at any time and can be an ideal alternative to the leg press, especially if you have back pain or injuries. You don’t need any equipment for this exercise; you simply stand with your feet hip-width apart with feet pointed forward and then bend your knees, sending your hips backward. Always keep your chest lifted and your back straight with your knees above your ankles. When you feel your thighs are parallel to the floor, push through your heels to stand back up. Repeat this process between 8 to 12 times.

You could hold a dumbbell or kettlebell to make the exercise harder. Another advanced method is the sumo squat, where your feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart at an angle away from your body.

Split squats focus on one leg at a time, mainly your quads and glutes. It is achieved by stepping one foot forward and one back, bending your knees, and lowering your hips before standing back up.

Bridge Exercises

In addition to working your legs, the bridge exercise stabilizes and strengthens your core and works your butt. You don’t need anything more than a mat for this exercise, as you simply lay on the floor on your back, bend your knees and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Tighten your core and buttocks, then raise your hips towards the sky. The desired effect would be making a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold here for a while before lowering yourself back down and repeat. You can always hold a barbell or a resistance band over your hips to make this a little more complicated.

Broad Jumps

Broad jumps help to build up leg strength and, if performed correctly, can be very effective. As a relatively high-impact exercise, if you have any form of joint pain, it should always be done with care. Simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend into a squat before swinging your arms forward and jumping upwards, pushing from your feet. Land back on your feet and flex your knees, hips, and ankles to absorb the force.



Lunges are relatively similar to squats, but you step forward to work your quads and glutes this time. Start with your feet hip-width apart and step one foot forward, dropping your hips and bending your knees until your legs are at a 90-degree angle. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor, you can push yourself up again until standing upright and repeat with the other leg. To make this exercise harder, you can hold dumbbells while you do it, either hanging your arms at your side or holding them in front of your shoulders. 

All five of these exercises are great alternatives to using a leg press machine, and if done regularly, you should start to see and feel the results in no time. All engage multiple muscles simultaneously to prepare your body for all sorts of everyday activities. If you are new to working out, you should talk to a doctor first and never push yourself more than you can handle. You should also always warm up before performing any sort of exercise routine.

About the Author

Ann Kaknon has been in the fitness industry for over 10 years, including as a dietician, personal trainer, and athletic trainer. She now spends her time at home with her kids and writes about her fitness experiences on the side. If you want to contact her, you can do so on her LinkedIn or blog.