Most people in the gym are preoccupied with training their upper body. Everyone wants to do the bench press. The legs get no love. But training the lower body is just as important as training your core and your upper body. If you want to be toned all over, you have to include your legs in your weekly weight training sessions. So what are the best machines or tools for training the legs?
Barbells and Dumbbells
Free weights are popular among people who want to build lean muscle mass. When you’re toning your body, you’re basically building more muscle and burning fat. Free weights can do that. Two of the most popular are barbells and dumbbells, which are more frequently used to tone the upper body. But with the right exercises, these tools can be used for toning the glutes, thighs, and legs. Two of the exercises you can do with these free weights are squats and lunges.
An alternative to barbell is the smith machine, which is very similar except that they are barbells fitted in a rack. With a smith machine, you can perform a deadlift or calf raise. While smith machines are safer, as they are often targeted for beginners, they’re no longer suitable for intermediate and advanced weight trainers as they don’t train adjacent muscles for stability, unlike barbells do.
Some people don’t like free weights. One option for them is the cable machine. There are different ways to train your thighs and calves using this machine, which of course will still rely on weights to be effective. For leg strengthening exercises, you will have to use the cable ankle attachment as the weight adds resistance for your leg muscles. The main advantage of a cable machine from dumbbells, for instance, is it provides even resistance throughout the range of the motion. So your leg exerts the same force from the beginning up to the end of a motion.
Leg Curl and Leg Press Machines
They are basically levers, which, like cable machines, also train your muscles by providing resistance. But unlike cables, a leg curl or extension machine does not allow freedom of movement. That may seem like a disadvantage, but people who want to train specific leg muscles may benefit from leg curls and extensions, because these exercises isolate muscle groups. Leg curl machines train the hamstrings, for instance, while leg press are for quadriceps.
These are chiefly cardio machines. They raise your cardiovascular stamina and burn fat. Toning your body, including your legs, involves cardio, which is good for people who still have to lose fat. If you’re overweight and you’re working on cutting and toning your body, then 20-minute cardio three times a week is good. Stationary bikes work the legs muscles and glutes while burning fat.
Other cardio machines that you might want to consider as a backup are treadmill and elliptical machines.
For more tips, check out the exercises on this page.