Best Leg Workout Machines - TuffStuff Fitness

Five of the Best Machines for Leg Workouts

Cathy Lefrancois Professional Bodybuilder - TuffStuff AmbassadorAre leg exercises part of your fitness routine?  According to Princeton-educated personal trainer, Andrea Cespedes, lower-body training is advantageous when you want to stimulate upper-body muscle growth.  “Leg workouts stimulate some of the largest muscles in your body, which helps create a metabolic state that is conducive to muscle-building.”  Further, leg workouts can strengthen the bones in your legs, and help in reducing the likelihood of leg injuries.  When choosing exercise equipment, you need to know which machines are the most effective for isolating the specific leg muscles you’re targeting.

Here are five of the best machines for leg workouts, along with a few tips from former Ms. International, Cathy LeFrançois.

TuffStuff Proformance Plus Leg Press PPL-960

Leg Press / Hack Squat

Main Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings

One of the most popular lower body workout machines is the leg press.  Research shows the leg press is one of the absolute best exercises to zero-in on the vastus medialis (inner quad) of the lower quadriceps.  Whereas, the hack squat is great at targeting the outer sweep (vastus lateralis) which is important for total leg development.  TuffStuff’s Proformance Plus commercial strength line includes a plate-loaded leg press that was recently added to the Denver Broncos Stadium Room Gym.  And TuffStuff also offers a leg press / hack squat machine, combining the best of both worlds in a single machine.

Denver Broncos Stadium Room Gym Leg Press

Advice from Cathy LeFrançois:

“Before performing any leg exercises, it’s important to warm up and see how your body feels.  I always start light, working with 25 repetitions, and focus on making slow contractions.  I listen to my body as I warm up.  And I determine the weight and number of reps for my workout after gauging how I feel.  If I’m feeling good, I’ll add weight until I can only perform 8-10 reps, with 3-4 sets.  I’ll perform 3-4 sets then cut the weight in half and perform a set with 20 reps.  Then I’ll perform a 1 rep max.

If I do not feel great after a warm up, I’ll perform sets with lower weight and higher repetitions.  On days when I feel ‘Off’, I focus on body positioning.  I’ll push the platform just enough to release the supports, and try to focus on the angles of my hips, knees, and ankles.  I keep my knees in line with my toes and press the weight slowly, ensuring I do not lock my knees at full extension. ”


CalGym Leg Extension / Curl (CG-9514)


Leg Extension Machines

Main Muscles Worked: Quadriceps 

Leg Extension Quadriceps Muscle IsolationA leg extension is a lever machine for targeting the quadriceps muscles in the legs.  The exercise involves bending the leg at the knee and extending the legs (raising a padded bar), then lowering them back to the original position.  Leg extension workouts are great for isolating the front and side of the thighs.

When using a leg extension it’s important you adjust the seat so that your knees are directly in line with the axis of the machine.  Pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your quads to add intensity.

When selecting a leg extension, choose a machine that maintains optimal body position throughout the entire range of motion (ROM). TuffStuff’s CalGym Leg Extension / Curl Machine (CG-9514) is a great light commercial option because it targets both hamstrings and quads.  Crafted from quality materials and reasonably priced, CalGym is great option if you are seeking a dual purpose machine.

Advice from Cathy LeFrançois:

“Adjusting your toes is an effective way to touch different muscle groups while using a leg extension. Sometimes I point my toes outward — like a ballet dancer — to places more emphasis on the vastus medialis (the teardrop muscle).  Then I’ll point my toes inward to focus on the vastus lateralis, which builds more of the outer-quadricep muscle.”

Proformance Plus Inner - Outer Thigh Machine (PPD-807)Inner / Outer Thigh Machines

Main Muscles Worked: Hip & Thigh Muscles 

Inner / outer thigh machines are used for shaping, toning and strengthening leg and hip muscles.  It’s important to strengthen your inner and outer thigh muscles (adductors/abductors), as they help to stabilize your knees, and your pelvis when you walk.  TuffStuff specifically designs thigh pads to smoothly rotate in and out with the user’s body.  In doing so, pinch points are eliminated.  TuffStuff’s Proformance Plus series includes an Inner / Outer Thigh Machine with multiple start and stop positions.  For added privacy, the machine faces inward towards the weight stack.

Advice from Cathy LeFrançois:

“When using an inner / outer thigh machine, be sure to work slowly with light weight to focus on muscle contractions.  Listen to your body, and if you feel hip or knee pain, stop and speak with a physician.  To change up your workup, add side lunges or resistance bands to your routine.”



TuffStuff Proformance Plus Leg Curl (PPD-806)

Seated Leg Curl

Main Muscles Worked: Hamstrings

Seated leg curls, are one of the main exercises for strengthening and toning the hamstrings.  Besides defining the back and front of the leg, leg curls are used for strengthening the knees, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.  Another benefit is that they can help in protecting your joints and knees from becoming stressed and injured. 

Advice from Cathy LeFrançois:

“Just like the leg extension, when using a seated leg curl, you should focus on your body position and the direction of your toes.  Remember that your hamstrings are composed of 3 major muscles; seated leg curls tend to target your inner hamstring muscles.  But you can also engage your calf muscles by pointing your toes upward (dorsiflex).  To reach more muscles, try alternating sets of leg curls with your ankle dorisflexed (toes pointed toward knees), with sets of leg curls with your ankle plantarflexed (toes pointed outward like a ballet dancer). I’ll frequently change leg and toe positioning so that I can target every angle of my legs.”



TuffStuff Pro XL Half Rack PXLS-7910

Half Rack for Squats

Main Muscles Worked: Full Body including Quadriceps, Gluteus Maximus, Hamstrings

A half rack, which is also known by other names — such as a squat cage, power cage or squat rack — is a type of strength training equipment used for free weight barbell workouts.  Unlike the Smith machine, it doesn’t have movement restrictions and users must stabilize the bar.  The half rack consists of four vertical posts that include parallel bar catches or rails on each side.  This offers the greatest exercise flexibility.  TuffStuff’s Pro XL half rack is great for leg exercises, empowering users to perform numerous types of squats, lunges, and deadlifts.

Advice from Cathy LeFrançois:

“Be sure you use proper squat form, to protect your lower back and knees.  Start slow and work with a comfortable weight.  Don’t get caught up in the ego trap of adding plates to impress others.  Focus on your form! ”


Safety Tips for Leg Workouts

  • Before attempting to use any type of fitness equipment for the first time, have a personal trainer help you design a workout routine.  Have an exercise plan, and know the proper body positioning to safely use the machine.
  • Be sure your form is correct.  To have the most effective leg workouts, you must have proper form to utilize the entire range of motion, and prevent injuries.
  • Avoid excessive forward movement of the knee during squatting and lunging movements.

When buying fitness equipment, quality matters.  At TuffStuff we have a wide range of strength training machines for leg workouts that target a variety of leg muscle groups.  Since 1971, we’ve offered the highest quality equipment, including residential, light commercial and full commercial strength equipment.  Please contact us to learn more.