Most people know the gym is the place to be to build muscle all over your body. But what are some gym machines specifically for leg muscles?
There are plenty of reasons to not skip leg day. Leg muscles burn a lot of calories, your body proportions look better, your performance will improve, and more.
There are equipment options to work out your legs at home but the machines on this list can definitely offer you certain unique advantages to help you grow bigger leg muscles. This can make them a great addition to your leg workouts at the gym.
That being said here are 10 gym machines you can use to get bigger and stronger leg muscles for everyone from beginners to people with a lot of resistance training experience.
1. Leg press machine
The leg press is a gym machine where you push away weights from your body with your legs. This can be both sideways but more often upward while sitting in a low seat. You can describe the leg press as a squat in machine form.
For this machine, the main exercise is a regular leg press with your two feet placed on the platform at about shoulder-width. Push the weights away until your legs are slightly less than stretched and then slowly return the weights to starting position.
The leg press mainly works leg muscles like quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
2. Hamstring curl machine
A hamstring curl machine is simply a machine made for the exercise with the same name. It is basically a chair or pad on which you lie down where you start with stretched legs and push against adjustable resistance to fold your legs at the knees.
There is only one main exercise this hamstring gym machine is built for and as the name implies the hamstring curl helps you train your hamstrings which are your back thigh muscles. This machine can be very helpful because it is difficult to isolate your hamstrings with other machines and exercises.
3. Leg extension machine
The opposite of the hamstring curl machine is the leg extension machine. This is a chair where you start with folded legs and push against resistance to extend your legs.
Similar to the hamstring curl machine, the leg extension machine is made for a single purpose. This purpose is to strengthen your quadriceps muscles which are your front thigh muscles.
If you have a pair of ankle weights you can also do leg extension with resistance at home although with less resistance compared to a leg extension machine at the gym.
4. Weighted calf raise machine
The calf raise is an exercise where you stand on the edge of an elevated platform. The ball of your feet (the front part of your feet) should be on the edge of the platform, your heels should hover in the air. Then you lower and raise your body with the power of your calf muscles.
The weighted calf raise machine is a setup where you can do this exercise with extra weight leaning on your shoulder. This extra resistance can help you build bigger and stronger calf muscles faster compared to bodyweight calf raises.
To focus slightly different parts of your calf muscles you can consider using the seated calf raise machine or changing the direction of your feet when doing standing calf raises.
5. Smith machine
The smith machine looks similar to a squat rack but there are a few differences which make the smith machine more of a machine.
First of all, the barbell is attached to a rail system. This makes it so it can only move up or down alongside these rails and not forward or backward. Secondly, it has a system where you can rack the barbell at any height. This can be helpful for individuals who lift without a spotter.
A great smith machine leg exercise is a weighted squat. Start standing up with your feet at more or less shoulder width and a weighted barbell on your shoulders.
You then lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. After that, you push yourself up again. If at any point you can not hold the weight anymore you twist the bar to rack it.
A squat on the smith machine mainly works leg muscles like quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
6. Cable machine
The cable machine is a type of gym machine where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
One example of a leg exercise you can do with the cable machine is the glute kickback. To do this exercise you want an ankle cable grip at a setting close to the ground. Stand with your face toward the cable machine and strap on the ankle band. You can hold the cable machine during the exercise for balance.
Lean forward to about a 45-degree angle to a vertical line. Move the foot with the strap back and with your knee slightly bent until your leg is stretched at an angle somewhat more vertical than just a horizontal line. After that return your foot to starting position in a controlled motion.
The glute kickback mainly works your glutes but you can find a cable machine exercise for basically every leg muscle.
7. Inner-outer thigh machine
The next gym machine is one that allows you to do hip adductions and abductions. These are movements from your upper leg toward the center and out to the sides. By doing these motions with extra resistance you can train your inner and outer thigh and even your butt muscles more.
To do hip adductions, this engages your inner thighs, the machine pads with resistance have to be on the inside of your legs. Adjust the machine settings, select the right weight, and sit down in the seat. Push your thighs slowly towards each other as far as you can. After that return them back into starting position in a controlled motion.
8. Hack squat machine
The hack squat machine is similar to the leg press machine. The difference is that instead of your feet moving, your shoulders will move like with a regular squat.
You can basically describe the hack squat machine as a slanting machine squat. Like the regular squat, this gym machine mainly works leg muscles like quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
9. Hip extension machine
A hip extension machine is a machine where you place one upper thigh on a pad with resistance. The next step is stretching your leg by pushing against the resistance. Once your leg is fully extended you can return it to its starting position in a controlled motion.
The motion you go through with the hip extension machine engages your glute, also known as your butt, muscles.
10. Hip thrust machine
Hip thrusts are similar to glute bridges but instead of doing them on the ground, you use a weight bench to elevate your upper body. There is also a gym machine that simulates this movement. This means hip thrust machines help you strengthen and grow your glute muscles too.
This last leg gym machine is not the most popular so your local gym may not have this one available. If this is the case you can also give the regular hip thrust with a weight bench and a barbell a try.