Best Leg Exercise Machines for Beginners
Arguably the most important body part to exercise is the first to be ignored—and that would be the legs. The fact is, leg workouts often involve some element of cardio and make you tired, hence people wanting to dodge them. The best leg machines for beginners, or perhaps those who have other limitations, are those which allow for multiple exercises from a single piece of equipment. For beginners, the leg muscles can be simplified as quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and then inner and outer thighs. The best machines for beginners offer options that hit all the above in some way. Advanced lifters will want to specialize more, or perhaps develop skill or tone in a particular area, but more often than not they’ll find themselves right back to using the basic machines. For many beginning fitness fans, big barbell movements just aren’t of interest, and these machines will be plenty to get them going.
Best Leg Exercise Machines for Beginners
TDS Adjustable Glute and Ham Developer Machine
Body-Solid Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg Press
HulkFit Olympic 2-inch Hex Trap Bar
BATOWE Adjustable Weight Bench
Iron Company A989 Plate Loaded Hack Squat
The importance of a well-developed lower body can’t be overstated. Unfortunately, beginners in particular like “mirror muscles” they can flex for show, and that typically means upper body. Meanwhile, simple machines and exercises can work wonder for the wheels, and frankly, a pair of dumbbells can do a lot of good as well. By focusing on the basics, and addressing the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, beginners can develop a strong base upon which to build going forward.
The first step for beginners is to be realistic in setting goals. Is the weight lifting program being considered one aimed at weight loss, weight gain, strength, or endurance? Any and all the above goals can be achieved with resistance training, but disappointment will ensue if one tries to go too far too fast. One of the keys to success in the gym is to develop an enjoyment of the movements themselves, and to have fun. Granted, all work requires discipline and effort, but if you’re not having fun, you probably won’t continue. Establishing good goals is the first step in that direction.
1. TDS Adjustable Glute and Ham Developer Machine
For overall lower body work as well as core developer, it’s tough to beat the Glute and Ham Developer. A multifaceted unit which allows for not just GHD raises, but hyper-extensions, sit-ups, and any number of rotational core work, it’s a great investment for a home gym or garage. Whether an advanced lifter or beginner, bodyweight exercises always provide results, and can be augmented with resistance by way of plates, chains, bands, or dumbbells. As the name implies, the Glute and Ham Developer targets those posterior muscle groups first, but also helps with the spinal erectors, core, and to a lesser extent the quads. At 60 inches long by 36 inches wide, and 47 inches high, the 160 pound unit features front and rear hand grips is constructed form 2-inch x 4-inch heavy steel tubing. This unit features an easy adjustment option with pull-pins and slide action to account for a user’s height.
2. Body-Solid Powerline PVLP156X Vertical Leg Press
An old-school leg machine which gets the job done, the Vertical Leg Press is terrific for beginners who don’t want the size of a large squat rack or the cost of a horizontal machine. With dual-adjustable ½-inch locking pins and three starting and stopping points, the steel unit affords a 400-pound weight capacity, as well as extra-thick padding and contoured head/neck pads. The machine itself is only 92.59 pounds, making for an easy move about the garage or gym. And at 46 inches long by 48 inches wide and 60 inches high, it doesn’t take up that much space. The exercise itself is performed by lying on one’s back and securing the feet on the rack, pushing up and lowering down, the stack of weight plates. All leg muscles, and to a lesser extent, the core, are activated here in this movement.
3. HulkFit Olympic 2-inch Hex Trap Bar
When simplicity is a must, beginners can’t go wrong with a good Hex bar. At a base weight of 45 pounds, this model is designed to work with Olympic plates which can be purchased separately up to whatever level is needed. Total weight capacity of the bar is 1,000 pounds, which is more than enough for even the most advanced lifters. Shaped like a pentagon with plate holders attached at the side, the Hex bar actually measures 86 inches in total length due to the shape, although 52.5 inches are for grip. At 28.9 inches wide, the bar stands up 7.05 inches high due to the handles. All in all, it’s easy to store. In addition to knee-friendly deadlifts, the bar can be used for Farmers Carry. To perform this movement, simply add weight and step inside, lift, and carry the bar around for time or distance. Total body workout achieved.
4. BATOWE Adjustable Weight Bench
Good for beginning lifters, young people in particular, the multi-purpose weight bench offers both leg curls and leg extensions as well as a total weight capacity of 770 pounds. With a 5-position design, the bench itself only weighs 30.8 pounds and measures 18.8 inches long by 46.4 inches wide and 43.7 inches high. Beginners can earn the burn with both quad-oriented leg extensions or hamstring-oriented curls, which the bench rack can double as a body-builder for leg raises, hip thrusts, and a holder for barbells used for lunging.
5. Iron Company A989 Plate Loaded Hack Squat
Definitely a bigger unit, but depending on one’s interest level, the Iron Company Loaded Hack Squat might in fact be all they need to develop lower body power. The machine itself weighs 376 pounds and measures 89 inches long, 64 inches wide, and 58 inches high. Commercial-rated, the welded steel frame is bolted together and operates with linear bearings for a smooth action. Designed for Olympic plates with 2-inch center hole, the unit comes with four plate posts for weight storage. In one motion a leg press, or hip sled, where users press the sled up with their feet, the unit converts to a hack squat, whereby the shoulder pads are unveiled and the user can drive up into the weight from the front or back. Whether anterior or posterior development is the goal, this unit offers many of the same benefits as a barbell squat without the danger to knees and back.