What Are the Best Fitness Machines for Quads and Hamstrings?

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The Smith machine, leg press machine and leg extension and curl machine are build quad and hamstring strength.
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You don't need a load of fitness equipment to get a good leg workout right at home (or any kind of workout, for that matter). But if you have the space and budget, why not treat yourself and splurge on a few quad- and hamstring-focused machines?

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Browse all the best fitness machines for your quads and hamstrings and learn how to use each one to get all the muscle-building benefits.

How We Chose

We chatted with Carolina Araujo, CPT, a California-based strength coach and personal trainer to get her top tips and recommendations on the best workout machines for your quads and hamstrings. We selected our products based on her criteria, including:

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  • Muscles worked
  • Skill level
  • Versatility

1. Smith Machine

  • Muscles worked: ​quads, hamstrings, glutes, core
  • Skill level:​ all levels
  • Price range:​ $700 to $1,200

Most commonly found near the squat racks in your gym, Smith machine exercises are an excellent way to really isolate your leg muscles without adding injury risk, according to Araujo.

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Unlike a barbell, a Smith machine has a fixed bar, so you don't have to worry about the weight throwing your body off balance. Generally, that means you can add more weight to the machine and build more strength.

Smith machines are also pretty versatile, which is another bonus. Whereas a leg extension and curl machine (more on that below) only allows for one exercise, you can do squats, lunges and even deadlifts all with this one tool.

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How to Use a Smith Machine

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Region Lower Body
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Place your desired amount of weight on the bar, equally balanced between the two sides.
  2. Position the bar at upper-chest height.
  3. Step under the bar into the machine, positioning the bar across your shoulders.
  4. Grasp the bar on either side, a few inches outside of your shoulders.
  5. Walk your feet out slightly in front of the bar and rotate the bar backward to release it from the rails.
  6. Push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering your body like you're sitting in a chair until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as close as possible).
  7. Reverse the motion and press into your heels to return to standing.

Smith Machines We Love

  • Sunny Health & Fitness Essential Smith Machine Squat Rack ($699.99, Amazon.com)
  • Deltech Fitness Linear Bearing Smith Machine ($899, Amazon.com)
  • Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine Squat Rack With Olympic Plate Storage Pegs ($1,125.98, Amazon.com)

2. Leg Press Machine

  • Muscles worked: ​quads, hamstrings, glutes
  • Skill level:​ all levels
  • Price range:​ $500 to $2,500

The leg press may look like an upside down squat but it still targets all the same lower-body muscles, according to Araujo. This machine allows you to focus solely on your lower body because you don't need to worry about holding or balancing any free weights.

Plus, this one is great for those who are new to squatting because you don't need as much technical body mechanics to perform the exercise properly. And considering you don't have to carry any weight on your shoulders, it's also an ideal alternative for those who may have back sensitivity.

How to Use a Leg Press

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Region Lower Body
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Place your desired amount of weight on each side, equally balanced between the two sides.
  2. Sit down into the seat, placing your back against the pad and your feet on the platform.
  3. Position your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your knees in line with your toes.
  4. Place your head against the pad and grasp the side handles.
  5. Turn the handles to release the safety locks. Press the platform away from you to straighten -- but not lock out -- your knees.
  6. Lower down with control, bending your knees to an angle slightly smaller than 90 degrees.
  7. Press through your heels to return to the starting point.

Leg Press Machines We Love

  • Titan Fitness Vertical Leg Press Machine ($499.99, Amazon.com)
  • POWERTEC Leg Press ($1,599, Amazon.com)
  • SB Fitness Equipment SB-LP2500 Loaded Leg Press ($2,495, Amazon.com)

3. Leg Extension and Curl Machine

  • Muscles worked: ​quads, hamstrings
  • Skill level:​ all levels
  • Price range:​ $755 to $2,600

In some cases, leg extension and leg curl machines are separate, but often, both exercises are built into one machine — and that's way more convenient if you're shopping for a home gym.

Leg extensions and leg curls target only the quads and hamstrings (respectively) without much glute engagement, Araujo says. So, if you're set on strengthening these muscle groups specifically, this machine is a good one to try.

How to Use the Leg Extension Machine

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Region Lower Body
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Sit on the leg extension machine, placing the padded lever in front of your ankles, knees bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Adjust the pin on the machine to a comfortably challenging weight.
  3. Grasp the handles at your sides and straighten your legs, toes pointing toward the ceiling.
  4. Reverse the motion and return to the starting position.

How to Use the Leg Curl Machine

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Region Lower Body
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Sit on the leg curl machine, placing the padded lever behind your ankles, legs extended.
  2. Adjust the pin on the machine to a comfortably challenging weight.
  3. Grasp the handles at your sides and bend your knees to 90 degrees, pushing against the resistance of the lever.
  4. Reverse the motion and return to the starting position.

Leg Extension/Leg Curl Machines We Love

  • XMark Heavy Duty Adjustable Rotary Leg Extension and Curl Machine ($755, Amazon.com)
  • SB Fitness Equipment SB-LELC700 Leg Extension/Leg Curl ($895, Amazon.com)
  • SB Fitness Commercial Leg Extension/Leg Curl Combo With 200-Pound Stack ($2,795, Amazon.com)

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