5 Best Leg Press Alternative Exercises for Women to Build Quads

Want to build string quad muscles? Try these five best leg press alternative exercises. (Image via Pexels / Ketut Subiyanto)
Leg press alternative exercises help build strong quad muscles. (Image via Pexels / Ketut Subiyanto)

The leg press exercise is an excellent compound workout for the lower body, such as quads, as it places no load on the spine and requires no stabilization. It's a favorite of many weightlifters, but that’s only one of the many variations that can keep your workout interesting and productive. However, it’s not a much preferred exercise in the gym. Not that leg presses are inherently dangerous; rather, people don’t know how to do them properly. As a result, they do the exercise such that it harms more than benefiting them.

Here are five of the best leg press alternatives with the right techniques and tips to make new gains in strength and size.

Best Leg Press Alternative Exercises for Bigger Quads

1. Hack Squat

If you're looking for a leg-press alternative, give the hack squat a try. It works your quads, hamstrings, and glutes similar to a standard squat, but it allows for a greater range of motion because there's no need to balance yourself.


How should you do it?

  • Stand on the hack squat platform with your shoulders in contact with the pads and grasp the handles beside your shoulders.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then rise up onto the balls of your feet until you feel tension in your legs.
  • Push the platform away from you, and lower yourself until you've achieved a 90-degree angle at your knees.
  • Push up through your heels until you are standing straight again.

2. V-Squat

The V-squat is a good alternative to the leg press. It’s a machine variation of the back squat that focuses on the quads and glutes. As a free weight alternative to the leg press, it does away with the stabilization needed for other squat variations.


How should you do it?

  • Stand on the V-squat platform with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Place your shoulders against the shoulder pads and grasp the handles beside you.
  • Take a squat stance with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • When you’re ready, stand up while keeping your knees behind your toes until the stopper releases and you descend.
  • Push yourself back up by extending your knees until you’re standing straight up again.

3. Resistance Band Squat

Bodyweight squats and resistance band squats both are fantastic ways to strengthen your legs and quads, but if you're using a heavy leg press at the gym, the bodyweight squat probably won't give you enough of a leg workout. To make bodyweight squats harder and more effective, use a resistance band to increase the amount of resistance you need to overcome.


How should you do it?

  • Grab a medium or heavy resistance band, and step into your squat stance and drop down.
  • Next, put one side of the band over your left shoulder and then do the same on your right side.
  • The band should now be resting on the front at your shoulders.
  • Holding the band in position with your hands, stand up by pushing against the floor.
  • As you stand, the band will pull back on your hips, engaging your glutes and quads.

4. Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is an effective leg press alternative because it places a high unilateral demand on your quads and glutes. The single-leg nature of this exercise makes it ideal for those who can't access heavy weights at home.


How should you do it?

  • To do this exercise, find a bench about knee height.
  • Stand facing away from the bench and take 2 to 3 steps forward.
  • The back foot is up on the bench edge, with the front foot flat on the floor.
  • Lower yourself toward the floor until your quads are almost parallel to it.
  • Push off the floor to stand up again. Repeat this 10 times, then change the leg that is brought forward and do it again.

5. Sissy Squat

The sissy squat is a terrific alternative to leg press because it works your quads without any of the other muscles that get targeted by the leg press. It is also a great exercise to do at home as it doesn't require any equipment.


How should you do it?

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold onto a sturdy object at about hip height.
  • As you get ready, drive your knees forward so that they go past your toes.
  • This will cause you to lean back as far as possible.
  • At the bottom, your heels should raise off the floor so that you’re only standing on the balls of your feet.
  • To stand up, drive through the balls of your feet and drive yourself forward.


These leg press substitutes will build strong quads for you. If you're an experienced lifter, some of these exercises are likely familiar to you. But for new lifters, a leg press is an ideal place to begin your weight training experience. Now that we've shown you how to do them, it's time to get going on those squats!

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Edited by Ramaa Kishore
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