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 to use a leg press, which is a type of resistance training exercise. A specialist piece of machinery is needed for this, which is often found in a gym, which allows you to push your legs against a set of weights. You are able to adjust the weights in the machine yourself, steadily increasing the amount of 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 simply not possible. Gym memberships can be expensive, and some people may not have access to one, and the machines are very expensive to buy yourself. While home leg press machines are also available, many people simply just do not have the space in their home 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 the use of a leg press machine.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are great fitness accessories and are much cheaper than a leg press, but essentially, 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 are great for both travel and use in the home.

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 and then bend them back to a 90-degree angle and repeat 8 to 12 times.

Another method of using the bands is by sitting on a chair. This is the same exercise as the previous, but this time you are pushing your legs out in front of you. If you want to increase the resistance like you would add 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 at all 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 try to keep your chest lifted and your back straight with your knees above your ankles. When you feel as though your thighs are parallel to the floor, push through your heels to stand back up. Repeat this process between 8 to 12 times.

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

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

Bridge Exercises

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

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 in order to absorb the force.


Lunges are relatively similar to squats, but this time you step forward to work your quads and glutes. 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 you are 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 at the same time to prepare your body for all sorts of everyday activities. If you are new to working out, then it is advisable that you 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 work as a dietician, personal trainer, and athletic trainer. She now spends her time at home with her kids and writing about her fitness experiences on the side. If you want to contact her you can do so on her LinkedIn or blog.