Whether you are new to the gym or a more experienced lifter who is looking for a way to spice up their workout routine, leg machines offer an easy option for working the lower body and achieving goals in the gym. While many beginners might shy away from leg machines because they are unsure of how to use them or are worried about injury, using them correctly is a safe and effective way to build muscle. This article outlines four of The Best Leg Exercise Machines and also provides beginner-friendly exercises to add to your training plan.

While many people focus on squats and deadlifts when they think of leg training, there are plenty of other ways to build strength in the lower body, such as lunges, step ups and calf raises. However, for those who want to make the most out of their time at the gym and achieve the best results, using a leg press or Smith machine is a good place to start.

Leg press machines are one of the most common pieces of equipment in any commercial gym and offer a variety of variations for different muscle groups. The most basic leg press machine has you seated with your knees at least a 90-degree bend and your feet hip-width apart as you drive power through your feet to push the weight away from the machine. Some leg presses allow you to adjust the angle of your foot position and others are designed to work the quads or hamstrings.

While the leg press machine is the most popular and well-known, it’s important to supplement your workouts with other movements that target the upper legs too. A good example is the seated leg curl machine, which works the quads in a similar way to the leg press, but from a seated position. Another excellent machine for targeting the quads is the seated leg extension, which requires you to drive the power through your legs in a straight and extended position.

Other machines that target the lower leg include the smith machine, hack squat and the calf raise machine. The hack squat and the calf rise machine allow you to train unilaterally for greater muscle recruitment and are perfect as “finishers” after a full leg day of squats, lunges and deadlifts.

As far as leg machines go, it is important to remember that free weights require a greater level of balance and coordination than machine movements. That being said, a good training program should incorporate both leg machines and free-weight exercises to help you reach your goals. Using leg machines correctly can provide you with a solid base of strength and technique to allow you to successfully perform more advanced lifts such as squats and deadlifts while reducing the risk of injury. The key is to keep pushing the load up over time, while ensuring you are not reaching a point of imbalance between both sides of your body.

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