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It often happens that certain exercises are not suitable for the athlete, and therefore it is important to find a worthy alternative to them. In this article we will discuss how to replace leg press.

Leg press in the simulator is traditionally referred to as basic exercise for training leg muscles. Usually the leg press is performed on the day of training the legs after or instead of squats with the barbell, since this movement perfectly engages the front surface of the hips, our quadriceps. But what if you, for some reason, are unable to include this leg exercise in your training program? How to replace leg press in the simulator? This is what will discuss.

Leg press alternative. How to replace the leg press?

More often, people are interested in the question of how to replace squats with a barbell, since squats are a more traumatic exercise with axial load to the spine. Therefore, people who have back problems perform leg presses instead of squats. But, nevertheless, there are such cases that a person has no contraindications, does squats without problems, and is looking for something to replace with leg press only because there is no leg press simulator in the gym.

So, leg press is a basic exercise for training the leg muscles (quadriceps). If for some reason this movement does not suit you, you can pump up without steroids replace it with another basic one.

The best exercises that replace the leg press:

  • Squats
  • Hack squats
  • Leg Press in Smith machine
  • Lunges (with barbell or dumbbell)

Squats vs leg press: squats as an alternative to leg press

Barbell squats are the best alternative to leg press, but it is more difficult. Most often, squats with a barbell are replaced with leg presses, and not vice versa. Although the squats are more effective. Immediately, it can be noted that for the body, burpee exercise, albeit with weight, are much more natural than the leg press of weights that exceed those that the athlete could withstand in a natural position. Using a special simulator for leg presses, the athlete does not need to maintain balance, as the body is precisely fixed, and the mainly legs work.


Squats are the most natural exercise, as part of our everyday life, which means that they can replace the bench.

Many believe that squats are difficult to perform technically, so they are sure that the leg press wins in this regard. In fact, it is squats that are the basis of bodybuilding training routines, and without them you can’t achieve the result. So why not start right away, with small weights, gradually increasing the bar?

A powerful argument in favor of squats is the “hormonal response” of the body to them. In the process of squats, even with dumbbells and at home, the body produces growth hormone and testosterone. Leg press does not lead to such an effect!

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Thus, it can be noted that squats with a barbell or with dumbbells are no less and even more effective and natural exercise than a leg press. During its implementation, work, in addition to the knees, hips and buttocks, it turns out to achieve the best balance!

Hack squats vs leg press

The hack machine is an excellent simulator that allows you to load your legs and buttocks without leg press. 

Why squat in the simulator

  1. If you have not squatted with a barbell before, then Hack squats are a convenient and simple option. The reason is simple – your back is not ready to hold the bar, but will calmly cope if you leave the entire load on your legs. And lean the back against the back of the simulator.
  2. If you have a sore back. In this case, squats in the simulator will remove the load from the vulnerable lower back. Unfortunately, if your knees hurt, then such an exercise will be painful and dangerous, we will talk about this later.
  3. Due to the fact that you are standing steady in the simulator, you can change the position of the legs in any convenient way. So, you can work out different parts of the leg muscles.

Техника выполнения гакк приседаний в тренажере.

Advantages over Classic Squat

  1. No need to use a partner. At the bottom point, if you can’t get up, you’ll always have stubs at your fingertips to reduce weight in the simulator. Thus, you can install them and get out of the bar without the risk that you will be pressed by weight.
  2. All the load falls on the legs. It is good for isolated exercises and impractical for basic ones. In the case of classic squats, the whole body works to maintain balance at each point of movement.
  3. You will not fall. You have nowhere to fall. Hands you hold on to the shoulders, and the pelvis is pressed to the back of the simulator.
  4. No need to hold the barbell on your shoulders. In this case, you stand under the soft shoulders. Ideal for girls who are afraid of bruises.

Simulator Features

No need to confuse Huck squat and leg press. Although both exercises are often done in one simulator. Usually such a simulator is a transformer. Not everyone knows that it can be easily and quickly converted to a squat.

Smith machine leg press

Leg Press in Smith machine is an effective basic exercise for working out the gluteus maximus muscle and thigh biceps, allowing you to progress the load by increasing the working weight, which positively affects the hypertrophy of the target muscle groups. First, the exercise creates great load, which is stress for the muscles, and the reaction to stress is the production of stress hormones that provide hypertrophy of muscle fibers. Secondly, the exercise is performed on the back, which levels the load on the spine, Romanian cravings.

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Leg press in the Smith machine is recommended to be performed in sneakers so that the bar of the simulator can be fixed in the recess between the heel and the rest of the sole. The exercise is recommended to be performed in a sufficiently large number of repetitions, because, although it is basic, it is still an auxiliary rather than a strength exercise. The key points are the position of the legs and feet of the relative body, and the fixation of the lower back. It is very important to observe these rules for accentuated study of target muscle groups, because otherwise the emphasis of the load will shift to the quadriceps, and if you take your lower back off the bench, you can even get injured. Remember, weights, of course, should be maximum, but don’t sacrifice equipment for the sake of weight!

Muscle and joint function

In Smith machine leg press the main load is received by the hip biceps and gluteal muscles, and any other muscles should receive only static load. If the athlete shifts the load from the target muscle groups, or tears the buttocks off the bench, then, of course, both the quadriceps and long back muscles, which should only serve as stabilizers, “turn on”. The role of stabilizers is also performed by the abdominal muscles and triceps muscles of the legs. It is worth noting that only the gluteus maximus receives the load from the gluteal muscles, so the exercise should be used to gain muscle mass, which, in fact, makes the exercise more universal.

There are two working statutes in this case: the knee and the lumbar, which, in general, makes the leg press in the Smith simulator a basic exercise, since the load is distributed between the joints, due to which, at no point in the amplitude of movement, the weight of the projectile does not create excessive load on one of the working joints. Does this mean anything? This suggests that the athlete can afford to freely progress the load by increasing the working weight, without increasing the risk of injury! That is why the “basicity” of the exercise does not depend on whether you perform it in the simulator or with free weight, it depends solely on the number of working joints and, as a result, working muscle groups.

Shoulder lunges as alternative to leg press: What are lunges for?

Lunges with a barbell is a classic exercise for the development of the hips and buttocks, which is used along with squats and leg presses. The effectiveness of lunges is confirmed by many athletes, the exercise invariably appears in training programs on the lower body, and is often mentioned in books on fitness and bodybuilding.

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Lunges with a barbell on the shoulders allow you to create a load on several muscle groups at once. As a result, the exercise is considered basic.

Выполнение выпадов со штангой

During the exercise work:

  • Quadriceps, the largest muscles in our body that extend the legs in the knee joints.
  • Back of the thigh: thigh biceps, semi-tendon and semi-membranous muscles. These muscles flex the knee and extend the hip joint.
  • Large gluteal muscles, which actually form the buttocks. They unbend the body.

Also, some load goes to the calves and muscle stabilizers of the body. The core muscles work actively if you are doing an exercise with a free barbell, and you have to, among other things, maintain balance. If you make lunges in Smith , the trajectory of the neck is fixed, and practically nothing needs to be stabilized.

Thus, the main benefit of lunges is the integrated development of the muscles of the legs and buttocks. It is worth saying that the exercise is quite variable. That is, by changing the width of the step, you can shift the emphasis of the load towards the quadriceps or gluteal muscles.

In addition, like other exercises for training the lower body, lunges increase blood circulation in the pelvic area, which has a beneficial effect on the condition of internal organs.


According to the principle of balance, contraindications to its use follow from the benefits of exercise. Lunges train muscles well due to the fact that they allow you to create a significant load on them. But it is precisely this load that can prove fatal to joints, especially knee joints. For injuries or any pain in the knees, lunging is contraindicated.

If your knees are healthy, so as not to get injured while doing exercises, strictly adhere to the technique. Namely, do not extend the knee of the front leg beyond the line of the toe (this creates a traumatic load) and do not knock the knee of the supporting leg on the floor.

Expert Conclusions

If an athlete is not able to perform leg presses, then squats with a barbell will be even more difficult for him. You can, of course, use simpler exercises (for example, lunges), but they are much less effective. The way out of this situation is to use any basic exercise for the legs (squats or leg press) with minimal weight.

In the case of doing squats with a barbell, you should take the minimum working weight and devote a couple of weeks to learning the right technique. Then you can gradually add the working weight and carry out the planned number of repetitions.