If you have ever stepped foot inside a commercial gym, there's a pretty good chance you've seen the coveted leg press machine. It's the steel beast that takes up roughly a city block of gym floor real estate and usually has a long line of fitness fanatics waiting for a turn. The seated leg press is loved by many and is an Insta-worthy piece of equipment -- few exercises allow you to move so much weight so quickly. But, truth be told, that's about all it does.
You're moving heavy weight along a preset path, so the leg press offers no challenge to core strength or stability. You're sitting, so it has minimal effect on your ability to run or jump. And all that weight you think you're lifting? Yeah, since it travels along a track that's 45 degrees to the floor, we're sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but about one-third of the weight is being lifted by the leg press machine itself -- not your legs.
Oh, and don't even get us started on the dangers that come with the leg press machine. While you might think that this cherished machine is harmless, the truth is that it can put your lower back in an awkward flex position -- and sometimes under extreme loads. That's a one-way ticket to back pain central!
So, how the heck are you supposed to strengthen your legs without the leg press machine, you ask? We'll tell you. Skip the machine and try this leg press alternative using bodyweight resistance instead.
But First, What’s So Special About Bodyweight Exercises?
Simply put, bodyweight exercise is a type of strength training that doesn't require the use of any free weights or machines. Rather than using bulky gym equipment, this popular type of exercise uses the weight of your own body as resistance for all of your movements. A few good examples of this type of exercise include things like pushups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, and planks.
OK -- What Are The Benefits?
We know what you're thinking: how in the world can bodyweight exercises be more beneficial than using gym equipment like a leg press? It's perfectly normal to think this -- especially if you've been a die-hard gym-goer your entire life. That said, check out these incredible benefits associated with bodyweight exercise:
Benefit #1: Works The Entire Body -- Especially Your Core
Bodyweight exercises can work a number of different muscle groups at the same time, helping you strengthen and tone your body from head to toe. While you might think of a pushup as a great upper-body exercise or a squat as an effective lower-body exercise, both of these help to improve core strength which is crucial to good posture and injury prevention.
Benefit #2: Super Versatile
While many fitness fads tend to burn out quickly when exercisers grow tired of them, bodyweight exercise consists of many different elements, including both resistance training and cardio, which keeps workouts from going stale. This also prevents your movements from becoming routine to muscles, meaning you can expect ongoing progress (a.k.a. -- you'll avoid plateauing).
Benefit #3: Extremely Cost-Effective
Arguably one of the best parts about bodyweight movements is that they are extremely cost-effective. You don't need a whole bunch of fancy fitness equipment, and you don't need a pricey gym membership to do some great bodyweight exercises. In fact, one of the top reasons that bodyweight training has skyrocketed into popularity across the U.S. is not only because of the incredible results it provides but because people like the fact that they can get into amazing shape without emptying their wallets.
Sit-ups, lunges, planks, and all of those great exercises don't really call for any equipment. Sure, a floor mat can make things more comfortable, and GEAR 1 from HYGEAR can do wonders to make each exercise more challenging for quicker results, but in the long run, these things end up being much more affordable than dropping your paycheck on a monthly subscription to an overpriced commercial gym.
Benefit #4: Burns A Whole Lot Of Calories
Another great benefit to bodyweight exercises is that even though it does involve a lot of strength training, it can still help you burn calories as a cardio workout does. However, you need to be aware that you need to do some really intense bouts of bodyweight movements, such as a bodyweight circuit routine or HIIT, for this calorie effect to really take hold. That said, high-intensity bodyweight workouts can definitely torch a whole lot of calories while boosting your metabolism, too.
Need help finding a great high-intensity bodyweight workout you can do at home? With HYGEAR, you'll have access to on-demand workout programs led by expert trainers to build strength, endurance, and total body fitness. Whether you're looking for a great HIIT workout or something at a slower pace, HYGEAR has everything you need to reach your goals.
Best Leg Press Alternative Using Your Bodyweight
Now that you're totally convinced bodyweight exercises are the way to go, let's dive into the best leg press alternative using bodyweight resistance, shall we?
While you can use just your body weight for this exercise, if you want to really feel the burn for a more effective workout, we suggest adding some resistance. GEAR 1 from HYGEAR harnesses the power of your own bodyweight and boosts the challenge with up to 56 lbs of resistance when you use the bands together. This smart portable gym replaces traditional gym equipment (like the leg press machine) and supports over 500 moves for workouts you'll love anytime, anywhere.
Ready to work your legs? Skip the leg press machine and try this instead:
Resistance Leg Press
This version forces you to work against gravity -- just like leg presses on a machine.
How to do it: Start by anchoring your GEAR 1 to the bottom of a sturdy door with the handles attached. Slip your right foot into the handle loop and lay down on your back a few feet away from the anchor point, with your head closest to the door. Slightly bend your left knee, foot flat on the ground. Then press your right foot out until your leg is straight, meeting resistance. Slowly bend your right knee and return back to the starting position.
Start with one set of eight to twelve reps before swapping to your left leg.
A Final Word
The next time leg day comes around, be sure to skip the leg press and try this alternative instead. Trust us; you just might be surprised to find how sore your legs are the next day!
Here at HYGEAR, we're all about delivering fitness systems that respond to you to help you reach your goals. Whether you're looking to build strong, sexy legs or torch calories, we've got your back.