Choosing a good leg press machine for a home gym got increasingly complicated over the last decade or so.
Quite a few actually…
From new arrivals, through buyouts, to altogether new machine types – it’s a mess.
Today, I’ll use my 20 years of experience in the space to be your insider.
Our team has also compiled 40 hours of research into leg presses, including trying many different leg press machines out in person.
So let’s make sense of it all… together…
If you’re in a hurry… the best leg press machine for home gyms is the Force USA Ultimate Combo. It’s the top value because of the high-end build at a medium price range and the hack-squat functionality.
Force USA Ultimate Combo
Rogue ISO 35
- 1 – Best home leg press machine overall – Force USA Ultimate Press and Hack Squat Combo
- 2 – Best budget leg press for a home gym – Powertec Black
- 3 – Best linear-bearing leg press – BodyCraft F760
- 4 – Best compact leg press machine for small spaces – Powertec Compact
- 5 – Money-no-object pick – Rogue ISO 35 leg press
- 6 – Best among horizontal leg press machines – Pro ClubLine Leverage
- 7 – Best vertical leg press machine – Titan Fitness 400-lbs
- 10 primary factors of choosing between the top leg press machines
- Also important – two secondary factors of choosing your next leg press
- What does leg press work?
- How much does a leg press weigh?
- How much does the leg press sled weigh?
- Which leg press is the best?
- Which leg press is best for glutes?
7 best leg press machines for home gyms
|Name||Best in category||Rating (out of 100)||Price||Defining feature/characteristic|
|1. Force USA Ultimate Combo||overall||86||$$$||Versatile, top value|
|2. POWERTEC Black||budget||77||$$$||Classic, budget-friendly|
|3. BodyCraft F760||Linear bearings||75||$$$$||Linear bearings|
|4. POWERTEC Compact leg press||Compact, for small spaces||73||$$||Small footprint|
|5. Rogue ISO 35||money-no-object||71||$$$$$||Dual footplate, high capacity|
|6. Pro ClubLine Leverage leg press||horizontal||70||$$$$||Leverage mechanism, selectorized weight stack|
|7. Titan vertical leg press||vertical||58||$||Cheap, minimal footprint|
1 – Best home leg press machine overall – Force USA Ultimate Press and Hack Squat Combo
Ratings: 86 out of 100
If you’re looking for a leg press that won’t make a massive dent in your budget and still deliver commercial-like quality, this is THE machine for you.
The value is simply unrivaled.
That’s reflected in three main points:
- It is a leg press, hack squat and calf raise machine in one.
- Good combo machines with hack squat functionality cost more – to get comparable quality, you’d have to spend at least 20-30% more.
- The price difference between a good standalone machine and this combo is well worth it.
Simply put, this machine delivers more for dollars spent than its competitors.
That’s true for both the competition in the standalone and the combo section of the market.
The glide is super smooth and you simply won’t have to worry about the quality ever again. Buy it once and build legs like Zeus.
See it in action here…
The bottom line – you simply cannot find a better quality machine for this price that can be used as a leg press, hack squat and calf raise machine.
You’ll even struggle to find a standalone leg press machine that’s as good as this one in this price range.
Specs of the Force USA press
|Dimensions (LxWxH, in inches)||94 x 66 x 60|
|Type of leg press||Combo – classic and hack squat station|
|Weight capacity||1,000 lbs|
|Number of lockouts||5|
- Great value – you’ll spend less than you would on other combo machines or get more for similar money (if you got it instead of a standalone).
- Versatile – doubles as a hack squat machine and includes a separate t-bar for calf raises (read more about hack squat machines in our best hack squat machine buying guide)
- Adjustable at both plate and seat – allows you to find the perfect position for activating more quads or glutes. It’s also a huge advantage if more than one person will be using it…like a family.
- Robust build and high capacity – it’s stable and feels safe, no matter the weight.
- Biomechanically accurate angles – this means better muscle activation and lower injury risk.
- Five lockout positions – gives you more flexibility and confidence when pushing through your personal bests. It’s also safer on failed lifts compared to machines with 2 or 3 lockouts. As well as the safety, it also makes it more versatile for users of different sizes.
- Precise tolerances and finishes – it has a premium feel to it.
- Hack squat platform should be wider – if you’re tall and prefer an extra wide stance, you might need to improvise for the extra surface.
- The rails are close to one another – if you’re big, the width between the rails might not be as comfortable as with Rogue ISO 35 (which costs 3 times as much) and the likes.
- The safety bar should be a peg shorter with one more notch – this would allow for a full range of motion on the hack squat. As is, you can’t go much farther than parallel if you have long legs.
2 – Best budget leg press for a home gym – Powertec Black
Rating: 77 out of 100
This Powertec leg press is the budget pick because it did not drop points in ANY significant quality category.
Still, you’d have to bump up your budget by at least 30% to get similar quality.
The other products in its price range either fill a specific niche/gap in the market (like compact or vertical) or have serious design/craftsmanship flaws.
This is always true – you can get an idea about a product by looking at the CONs. The good ones will have problems that don’t cut close to the bone of a good workout.
That’s the case here.
The grievances I have about this Powertec are minor, and they all come down to the geometry of the lower horns.
Specifically, their proximity to the footplate and the frame.
This can only be a problem for tall people (say, over 6’7) with particularly large feet and long legs (more on that in the CONs below).
Specs of the Powertec press
|Dimensions (LxWxH, in inches)||79 x 36.6 x 54|
|Type of leg press||Classic with a hack squat station|
|Weight capacity||1,000 lbs|
|Number of lockouts||3|
- Classic design – you can choose not to pay for stuff if you have no plans of using it (like the hack squat).
- Accurate geometry – allows you to hit those angles and burn the quads without significant risk to the lower back.
- Generously-sized foot platform (22×29“) – it allows for different angles and stances, which adds diversity to your workout.
- Great back pad – comfortable as any, generously sized, and well-padded. It’s 32 inches long, 13.3 inches wide at the outer edges, and tapers off to about 10 inches at the top. Just what the doctor ordered.
- It can be bolted down – this adds a layer of stability. You probably won’t need to bolt it down because it’s heavy, but having the option is a plus.
- The lower horns are close to the footplate – if you have large feet (I’d say 13+ US) and big plates on the lower horns, your heel might touch the weights on full extension.
- The frame gets in the way when loading the lower horns – you can only load the weights on the lower horns when the sled is in the lowest position, which is a minor functionality issue. In other positions, the frame gets in the way.
- Handles are attached to the safety rails – they’re not as sturdy-feeling as fixed handles.
- Incomplete instructions (borderline wrong at points) – it will take more time to put it together. Thank God they have a YouTube instructional video that’s much more useful.
3 – Best linear-bearing leg press – BodyCraft F760
Rating: 75 out of 100
The F760 is similar in design to the Force USA Ultimate.
The three substantial differences are:
- The guiding mechanism of the BodyCraft is enclosed linear bearings.
- The F760 is significantly more compact – the weight capacities are the same, but the Force USA is twice as big.
- This is because the plates go under the rails and not to the sides.
Is it all worth the extra money?
Most leg presses (yes, even the ones on this list) use wheel bearings on the rails.
Basically, you have two wheels “wrapped” around the rail.
Linear bearing mechanisms like this one are more intricate. They house ball bearings that rotate independently, which results in a smoother glide. The differences will become more noticeable in the long run.
The space-saving argument is self-explanatory.
The Force USA machine has a footprint of just over 43 square inches, while the F760 is 21.4.
That’s a whopping difference if you have the same weight capacity in mind. Of course, if you have abundant space, you can ignore this point, but I’m assuming the majority won’t.
How did they do it?
They simply placed the weight under the carriage, so the horns aren’t “protruding” to the sides nearly as much.
Specs of the BodyCraft press
|Dimensions (LxWxH, in inches)||79 x 36.6 x 54|
|Type of leg press||Classic, 45-degree|
|Weight capacity||1,000 lbs|
|Number of lockouts||3|
- Uses linear bearings for the rails – the smoothness of the movement will change very little with time.
- It’s compact for its weight capacity – small footprint will leave more room for other equipment.
- Adjustable footplates (both lower and upper) – you can experiment with positions and tweak your lifts until you find the perfect angle.
- Adjustable shoulder pads – this makes it more versatile and welcoming for people of all frame types, tall and short alike.
- It costs more than your average home leg press – getting it will leave you with less money for other gym stuff. Out of the top picks, only the commercial-grade Rogue costs more.
4 – Best compact leg press machine for small spaces – Powertec Compact
Rating: 73 out of 100
This PowerTec has its horns locked with the Force USA sled for the top spot in the compact category.
It takes the cake for two slivers of a reason:
- The weight capacity is slightly higher (700 vs. 660 lbs)
- It’s slightly smaller (21.25 vs. 23.47 square inches of footprint)
In every other aspect, the two are pretty much the same machine – from build quality to price and warranty.
In this update, we give a minimal edge to the Powertec, but getting either is not a mistake.
Specs of the Powertec Compact
|Dimensions (LxWxH, in inches)||67.1 x 46.5 x 45.7|
|Type of leg press||Compact|
|Weight capacity||700 lbs|
|Number of lockouts||1|
- It’s small – will take up less of your home gym space…50% less than the top-rated Force USA Combo machine.
- It’s good value for beginners – at lower weights, it will do a similar job as the classic press for less money.
- It’s safe – there’s little risk of injury with a compact sled.
- Uses your body weight as load – you’ll need fewer weights.
- Weight capacity is lower – you can’t get the intensity you would with a classic press.
- The movement is different – if you’ve never used a compact leg press, it will take some getting used to.
5 – Money-no-object pick – Rogue ISO 35 leg press
Rating: 71 out of 100
When Rogue bought Nebula back in 2012, the only question on my mind was whether they’d bring back the legendary leg press.
It’s the machine Ronnie Coleman used to press 2,300 lbs in that famous video.
If money is no object, the Rogue ISO 35 is the obvious choice for three reasons:
- Premium build
- Industry-leading weight capacity – 2475 lbs
- Dual design
“Dual” simply means that you can split the footplate in half and only work one leg at a time.
Specs of the Rogue ISO 35 leg press
|Dimensions (LxWxH, in inches)||98 x 64 x 47|
|Type of leg press||Classic, dual-plate|
|Number of lockouts||2|
- It’s built like a tank – you’ll never feel like something might give in, no matter the load.
- Premium finish and cool design – it will add serious coolness points to any gym space.
- Two separate plates guided by independent rails – it can be used like one unit when the connecting rod is in. This makes it more versatile.
- Arrives semi-assembled – this makes assembly simpler. You attach the plates, sleeves, stabilizers, and storage posts.
- Adjustable, ergonomic seat – you’ll be more comfortable and feel stable, which is especially important on heavier weights.
- Adjustable safety stop finishes with a spring – no loud metal-on-metal contact, even on failed lifts.
- A unique creased shape of the footplate – this takes the guesswork out of foot placement. Higher is more hamstring; lower is more quad.
- Two lockout positions – this limits you on certain exercises like partial presses.
- No open space between the guiding rails and no plate handle – getting in and out will call for some improvisation.
- Connecting rod isn’t tightly fixed – you’ll hear it rattling and might need to do something about it if it bugs you.
6 – Best among horizontal leg press machines – Pro ClubLine Leverage
Rating: 70 out of 100
If you have a problematic spine or leg joints, you don’t have the luxury of overlooking horizontal leg presses.
They’re not as “sexy” as Rogue ISO 35 and the likes, but they will allow you to work the legs without compressing your spine.
The good ones are expensive
The best leg press in the category is the Pro CubLine Leverage by Body Solid because it gets all the angles right, which is crucial for reaping the benefits of the design.
Compared to a classic angled press, leverage presses have more moving parts. This means it’s easier to mess up the geometry.
It also leaves more room for mistakes.
Ultimately, it translates to a higher price tag.
That’s why the Pro Clubline is the second most expensive machine here.
|Dimensions (LxWxH, in inches)||89 x 57 x 52|
|Type of leg press||Horizontal|
|Number of lockouts||2|
- Puts no pressure on your lumbar spine – allows you to work around injuries, and lowers any risk associated with failed lifts.
- The leverage system has a free-weight quality to it – it will feel more natural and direct compared to similar models with selectorized weight.
- It’s expensive – will make twice the dent in your gym budget than a classic press like the Powertec would. Think about this carefully, because the potential savings could be used elsewhere.
- Getting in and out might feel awkward initially – it will take some time to get used to the angles and the seat position.
- Your head is not fixed against a surface – you’ll need focus to maintain a safe position. When your head is missing a physical reference point, it’s easier to get sloppy as you tire. Tucking your head in or moving it to the side re-introduces the risk of back injury.
7 – Best vertical leg press machine – Titan Fitness 400-lbs
Rating: 58 out of 100
If space is a priority, no press type comes close to the minimal footprint of the vertical leg press machines.
If you ask me, that’s where the reasons for getting one of these start and finish.
I’m not a fan…for a few reasons.
First, the load is too direct for a fixed upper body. This means any corrections will be made in your knees and spine, which is taxing on both.
Some of those inherent design issues could be offset with better parts – primarily the joints and the guiding mechanism.
Alas, these seem to be made to save space and money above all.
Bottom line – unless I were under 30, injury-free, and tight on space and cash, I’d stay away from a vertical leg press.
If you do decide to give it a go, Titan is the least problematic and the top value of the bunch.
|Dimensions (LxWxH, in inches)||48 x 38 x 52.8|
|Type of leg press||Vertical|
|Number of lockouts||1|
- Extra small footprint – at only 12.67 square inches, it’s the most space-saving design on the list.
- It’s cheap – it will set you back 60-70% less than a classic or a compact machine would.
- Your back is fixed against the bench throughout the press – this lowers the injury risks associated with moving your head or spine during a press.
- It’s the most direct load of all leg press types – it’s not as safe as other leg types.
- It does not look cool – if you’re a stickler for appearances and aren’t old school, you won’t be a fan of vertical leg presses.
- The assembly instructions are basic – for such a simple design, the assembly takes too long. I’ve also seen reports of minor parts (like bolts) missing on arrival.
Buyer’s guide to choosing the best leg press machine
The section below will be interesting to you if you belong to one of these two groups:
- You already have a favorite but want to understand how we got the results.
- You want to learn or systemize what you already know about leg presses.
Whatever the case, this section is the meat of the guide.
I aimed to be detailed and helpful without watering down the key points.
10 primary factors of choosing between the top leg press machines
1 – Size – footprint of the leg press machine
(0 to 10 points in our ratings)
The footprint of the leg press machines on our list ranges from just over 12 to over 43+ inches square.
You can see the footprint comparison graph below.
The absolute size is pretty straightforward and doesn’t tell the whole story. Instead, look at specific models and think about where they might fit in your gym.
In a word – look at the dimensions and find a spot in your gym.
The horizontal leg press machines are longer and narrower, except when they feature a selectorized weight stack.
If space is very tight, vertical leg press machines have the smallest footprints here…and I’m talking 2-3 smaller than your average angled press.
Finally, the most space-saving option is an all-in-one gym with a leg press attachment for the Smith machine.
The models from the Force USA G Series either come with the leg press attachment or have it as an optional upgrade – you can see our top all-in-one picks from Force USA here.
Below is a graph comparing the footprint of our top picks.
2 – Types – classic, vertical and horizontal leg press machines
The three main types of leg presses are classic (angled), horizontal, and vertical. We did not award points for either because none is universally better.
The classic, angled leg press
An angled machine is what most people think of when leg press is mentioned. That’s why you’ll see me refer to these models as “classic.”
The angle for a classic press is typically 35-45 degrees, and you lift about 60-70% of the load you pack on.
Now, what does that mean exactly?
It means that if you were to go to a vertical press from an angled, you’d probably start with about half of the “old weight” until you get used to the different movements.
Making sense of the loads and angles
I could go into the physics of how I go to the load percentages and angles, but that would be a flawed approach.
For one, it’s needlessly confusing.
It’s also inaccurate when theory meets reality…because the movements are different.
Instead, adopt a common-sense logic.
Don’t obsess over what the type means for the weight. Establish your baseline and take it from there.
As a rule of thumb, for most people, the classic angled leg press will be most comfortable and mechanically welcoming for heavy weights.
A vertical or horizontal leg press machine will be the choice for a very specific set of needs – primarily limited space for the former and lower intensity or recovery for the latter.
Subtypes – compact, selectorized, and leverage leg press machines
I’ll just take a moment here to mention a few leg press types that you might stumble upon.
They all belong to one of the three groups above. The difference typically refers to one feature or build geometry.
- Leverage leg press machine is a subtype of the horizontal, seated press. “Leverage” refers to how the load travels to your feet.
- 45-degree leg press – this is your classic press. Sometimes, the brands stress the angle because not all are the same. For example, the Rogue ISO 35 is built with a 35-degree angle…hence the name.
- Selectorized, cable, or weight stack leg presses – this refers to the type of load used. With the selectorized, you pop a pin in to choose the weight. Most of the best leg presses use Olympic weight plates because it’s more budget-friendly.
- Combo leg press machine – typically refers to a machine that combines the classic press with a hack squat station.
3 – Build quality – steel gauge, cross-section, and joints
(0 to 12.6 points in our ratings)
In terms of build quality, we look at two groups of factors – direct and indirect.
The direct ones are the gauge and cross-section of the steel and the joining (welds vs. bolts).
That would be enough if all the information is there, and it’s often not.
You get descriptions like “heavy gauge” and “high-quality” steel, which means very little.
To accurately judge the build quality of a leg press, I need numbers – from the exact gauge of the steel to the dimensions of the beams.
That information is usually missing with lesser products.
Luckily, I have enough experience to guesstimate what that means based on the capacity and warranty.
If the specs are descriptive instead of specific, the max load is under 500 lbs, and the warranty is 1 year or shorter, we’re looking at 14-gauge steel at best.
I’m not including a graph image because some of the information in the sheet are estimates.
My three rules of thumb here are:
- The frame should be 13-gauge or better.
- Stress points and joints should ideally be at least 12-gauge.
- If the specs are descriptive instead of specific, look at the max load and warranty. If the capacity is under 500 lbs and the warranty is 1 year or shorter, you’re looking at 14-gauge steel at best.
4 – Weight capacity of good leg press machines
(0 to 20 points in our ratings)
The weight capacity and load you’ll get on your end are not the same thing because of the different angles.
That means, when comparing leg press capacities, doing it across types makes little sense (beyond build quality, that is).
In terms of your workout, it doesn’t mean much.
For example, a “low-capacity” vertical leg press can murder your legs in ways that a compact leg press never will.
Take my word for it.
We could go beyond max weight analysis here and discuss whether a vertical press feels safe at capacity (cough, cough, it doesn’t), but that’s not my point.
My point is this – when choosing a leg press, decide on the type first, make a shortlist of the candidates, and only then compare the capacities.The most significant differences here exist in the “classic angled” category (comparison graph is below).
5 – Bench of a leg press machine – padding, ergonomy, and size
A good leg press bench should be:
- Well-padded – comfortable but not soft. This usually means high-density foam padding.
- Ergonomic – stable and supporting in all the right spots, especially at the lower back and tailbone.
- Properly sized – it should feel stable but not get in the way when reaching for the safeties (the emphasis here is on the width).
- Adjustable – both in height relative to the plate and angle.
- Backed by no less than a 1-year padding warranty (shorter is acceptable for commercial warranties).
The “bad” news is this – there’s no simple way to translate the bench quality into points.
I also can’t give you precise fro-to guidelines for dimensions because most manufacturers don’t even list them in the specs.
I also think you should take into account the quality of the upholstery. It’s got to deal with a lot of weight pressing on it, so it needs to be good.
Check the materials, the stitching and the online reviews. No news is good news, so if it’s not featuring as a complaint often, it’s good to go.
The good news is that all our top-rated leg presses tick the 5-point checklist.
6 – Single vs. dual-plate leg presses
If you want the convenience of splitting the plate and only working on one leg press, there are high-end presses like the Rogue ISO 35 that allow it.
Now, is it worth it?
It is for these two groups of people:
- Amateur and pro bodybuilders.
- People looking to correct a leg strength imbalance.
For most people, however, it’s not worth it because the dual machines cost much more than your average leg press.
Paying the big bucks for this feature only is borderline crazy.
Furthermore, you can mimic the one-leg load on a classic machine. I don’t advise doing it with heavy loads, though, because the one-point pressure can create additional friction and put your knees at risk.
That’s especially true if the guiding mechanism is not bearing-based.
7 – Usable length of the rails
The usable length of the rails (I’ll call it ULR for simplicity) is probably the single most overlooked factor of choosing a good leg press.
It’s the distance from the upper edge of the sled to the top of the frame (measured in the lowest lockout or your lowest position).
My three ULR rules are:
- If you’re over 6ft tall, go for machines with ULRs of 24 inches or more. That’s the length that allows for comfortable calf raises with about 4 inches of extra space.
- For every inch of height over 6ft, add 0.7 inches to the ULR.
- Whatever your height, the absolute minimum ULR is 22 inches.
I could go into geometry and the math behind the three rules, but it would make for a boring read.
Short ULR is often an issue with compact and cheap models. It’s fine if you aren’t very tall (or more importantly have short legs).
8 – Footplate of a leg press – size and angles
(0 to 10.1 in our ratings)
This is where many companies cut corners, which baffles me because the footplate and the bench are the first points of contact between the machine and the person who paid money for it.
The good news is that none of our top picks have a deal-breaking problem here.
My advice is to skip any classic leg press with a footplate less than 25 inches wide or 22 inches high.
The more space you have, the more versatile you can make your lifts by switching up the stances and foot placement. That especially goes if you’re tall.
The graph below compares the footplate sizes of our to top picks.
Adjustable footplates are the best
Go with an adjustable footplate and bench.
It will allow you to tweak the angles until you find what works for you. It’s also a big plus for home gyms where more than one person will be using the leg press.
Pivoting footplates – for most people, it’s a frill
Unless you’re recovering from a below-knee injury, a footplate that freely pivots is not a substantial plus.
It’s like expecting the ground to move as you squat.
It’s not only unnecessary but can be dangerous if you’re lifting heavy and not used to it.
Only one of our picks features a pivoting plate – the horizontal Pro Clubline Leverage press.
Most of the best home leg presses have a top handle to grab onto when getting in and out.
I say “most” because some top-tier models like the Rogue ISO 35 and the Hammer Strength are not in that majority.
I guess it’s uncool or something.
If you ask me, it’s practical and should be there. It’s also helpful when you’ve got bambi legs after a big, heavy set!
9 – Safety of a leg press – lockouts and safety catches
Number of lockout positions
(0 to 3.8 points in our ratings)
The number of lockout positions among our top picks ranges from 1 for the vertical and compact models to 5 for versatile classic units like the Force USA Ultimate Combo.
I’d say that 3 positions are enough for most people.
There are more intricate solutions (like the classic Avenger Leg Press) that feature adjustable boom designs for the lockouts.
These give the user complete control over the range of motion because you’re not limited by pre-set lockouts.
The market for advanced stuff like this is limited – probably because of the high price tags.
Safety catches are not the same thing as lockouts.
I’m stressing it because I’ve seen the terms used interchangeably.
You fix the catches in a position where you want the weight to stop, even if you fail to lock out.
It’s a simple mechanism that’s either separate or locks onto the rails.
The spacing of safety catch positions is important if multiple users are going to have access to the machine, because they’ll need to make sure they’re comfortable and able to use it safely.
10 – Price and warranty terms of leg press presses
(0 to 50.1 points in our ratings)
These two categories carry over 30% of the total number of points, and that’s not a glitch.
Combined, these tell a fairly complete story of what you can expect from a leg press.
Because there’s little to no room to BS your way around a lousy warranty or a high price tag.
Provided that the reader is at all educated, of course.
If you’re reading this – you’re better equipped to spot BS than 99% of potential buyers.
Kudos on the diligence!
Anyway, these are my three rules of thumb:
- If you’re paying more than a grand for a leg press, don’t settle for less than a Lifetime warranty on the frame (*).
- If separate, the padding warranty should be at least 1 year (in the 1K+ price range).
- A short warranty (1 year or less) is only acceptable if you’re not paying over $600 for the machine.
*you might see this referred to as a ‘structural warranty”
There are rare exceptions to these three rules.
Such is the case with the sub-par 6-month warranty on the upholstery for the BodyCraft F760.
I’m turning a blind eye here for two reasons:
- The 6-month warranty applies to “light commercial use,” which means that you’re not likely to see any wear in a home gym.
- I found no red light when looking into owner experiences.
For reference, I’m including a price comparison graph.
Also important – two secondary factors of choosing your next leg press
1 – Guiding mechanism on the rails
Most top leg presses use a wheel-bearing mechanism, with a few outliers that pack linear bearings, like the Rogue ISO 35 and BodyCraft F760.
The difference in the guiding mechanism of the angled machines is less crucial than with the vertical paths.
That’s one reason for not awarding points in the category.
The second reason is that we still don’t have all the data because it’s rarely in the specs. So, if we have no access and have never used the machine, we’d have to guess what’s inside.
If it’s not an educated guess, we don’t do it.
Bottom line – linear ball bearings are a plus but not a must. The machines running on these typically cost more, so it becomes a question of value.
I’d say that with all other things equal, I would pay a max of 5% more for linear bearings.
Simply put, I wouldn’t get a leg press like the BodyCraft F760 instead of the Force USA Ultimate just because the former runs on linear bearings.
The Force USA Ultimate Combo is the more complete machine, and it costs less, which makes up for the “basic” guiding mechanism.
2 – Instructions and assembly of the leg press
Puting a leg press together is a two-person job.
Presses aren’t as complicated as some other machines (like all-in-one gyms), but they are heavy.
If at all possible, get a friend to help you.
If you’re doing it yourself, I have two key tips for you:
- Don’t bolt both sides before the middle sled is in.
It’s a common mistake that will double the assembly time because you’ll have to take it apart, push the mid-section in, and re-bolt. So, bolt one side, push the sled in place, and bolt down the other.
- If the catches on the side beams are not symmetrical, pay attention to the sides. Specifically, the rotating rod with the safeties.
It’s a common mistake because it’s easy to make, and it’s almost never in the instructions.
In a word, don’t bolt down the whole thing without making sure the safeties catch. If they’re “missing,” you’ll need to flip the beams.
Let me explain it better using the image below – rod A from the “red side” could be mounted onto the “blue side,” but the safeties will not catch as they do with the rod and beam B.
Nine times out of ten, that means the weld on the rod should be closer to the bottom.
What it means for you
Typically, the “better companies” will have detailed instructions that point out potential mistakes.
If it sounds like I’m splitting hairs, let’s talk again after your 5th hour assembling a cheap Chinese press based on one mumbled piece of paper.
Methodology – how we review and rate leg presses
Our methodology of rating leg presses is primarily based on data.
My role is to decide what to do with that data.
The goal was to create a list of the best leg press machines that’s objective, versatile, and concise.
Step-by-step rundown of how we chose the best leg press machines:
- We started with a blank sheet and set out to create a list of ALL leg presses that are candidates for top spots.
That meant pooling data from 24 manufacturer websites, Amazon, and a few other sources.
- Based on my experience and in consultation with experts in the industry, we defined a set of rating criteria – basically everything that matters when choosing a leg press.
We looked at every single forum out there to make sure we were not missing anything. The result of this step was a list of 24 rating criteria.
- We assigned gravity to the criteria.
This is the number of points each criterion carries, and it ranges from 2.5 to 25.
- We populated the list of leg presses with all the data needed to rate them. If we can’t find a piece of information, we ask the makers.
- We created a rating formula.
This is always THE crucial step because we’re aiming for a balance between quality and price.
In a word – we aim to hunt down the top values on the leg press market.
- We tweaked the formula through a few iterations to make it as objective as possible.
The goal here was to truly find the best value. It means going beyond cheap and beyond good.
- The list you have here is fruit of carefully going through steps 1-6 until we’re positive the picks are machines we can stake our reputation on.
FAQs about leg presses
What does leg press work?
Leg press works all your leg muscles, provided that you get one that hits the right angles like the Force USA Ultimate Combo.
The primary target of the classic leg press is the quads. You can switch it up and prioritize the glutes, hamstrings, and calves, depending on your foot placement.
How much does a leg press weigh?
A leg press weighs between 100 and 700 lbs.
Basic, vertical models like the one from Titan Fitness are light and weigh around 100 lbs. More robust machines like the Rogue ISO 35 weigh around 700 lbs.
How much does the leg press sled weigh?
Leg press sled weighs 60-180 lbs, with home-oriented machines like the Powertec Black on the lower end of that range.
On the upper end, you’ll find machines like the Rogue ISO 35, with a starting weight of 182 lbs.
Apart from keeping track of your personal bests, the weight of the sled should be but a minor factor in choosing a good press.
Which leg press is the best?
The best leg press machine for a home gym is the Force USA Ultimate 45 Combo.
It combines leg press, hack squat, and calf-raise stations into one machine at a fair price.
If price is not a factor, the industry classic Rogue ISO 35 is the way to go.
Which leg press is best for glutes?
The best leg press machine for glutes is a 45-degree machine, like the Powertec Black.
The important factor here is a generously-sized footplate.
Aim for at least 550 square inches of total surface and 25 inches in width.
Other leg presses – close but no cigar
- Titan Fitness Plate-Loaded linear leg press – similar idea to the Force USA combo…should cost about 20-30% less.
- TDS vertical leg press – good but basic. It costs more than an average vertical press.
- Powerline Vertical leg press – good value for lower weights. The weight capacity of 400 lbs made competing with the likes of Powertec and Force USA combo a non-starter.
- Body-Solid Pro ClubLine horizontal leg press – might be an option if you’re looking for a horizontal press with selectorized weights. It’s expensive, though.
- Hammer Strength Linear press – awesome leg press that just can’t compare to the Rogue ISO 35 – more money for a lower capacity and a shorter warranty.
- Body-Solid legpress – Body Solid has a few models, but the ones that got our attention is the leverage leg press machine. The leverage design is unique but ultimately too expensive for this list.
- French Fitness Monster – great leg press that’s not great value for homes because the warranty is commercial (10 years).
- MedX Avenger leg press – an awesome industry classic, now discontinued. It’s hard to come by a used one in solid condition.
- Precor angled press – commercial-grade, too expensive for most home gyms.
- Synergee Leg Press Machine – probably the cheapest machine that’s still worth considering. The angles are a bit off, and I’ve heard some nightmarish assembly stories.
Best product – resume and key takeaways
Whatever time we invested into this guide, I feel it’s worth it because the result is a comprehensive list of great home leg presses.
The best value for most people is Force USA Ultimate 45 Combo.
It’s solidly built and well-padded, and hits all the correct angles. It costs much less than the commercial alternatives in the same capacity range.
If you don’t see yourself using the hack squat, the Powertec Black is the budget alternative to the Force USA – no frills, just a good ol’ fashioned leg press.
If you don’t have this kind of space, our top compact picks are the Powertec Compact Sled and the Titan vertical press.
Finally, if you want the absolute best and can spare the money and space, the ISO 35 from Rogue is the undisputed champ. It’s the successor to the famous Nebula…you know, the machine Ronnie Coleman used to casually press a ton all those years ago.
Click here to skip back to the table with the top picks.