Not all leg press machines are created equal. We have all seen this at the gym. I’m sure you have heard just like I have when a fellow gym-goer proclaims how they have maxed the leg machine out at something like a thousand pounds. But a quick look at their wheels will leave you wondering. How can a person with small thighs and skinny calves move that much weight? The short answer is they can’t. At least, not really.

Leg machines that have the person pushing the weights outward at a sideways angle is not really giving their kicks the best workout possible. Out of the thousand pounds they have loaded on that machine, the actual weight they are moving is probably closer to a few hundred pounds. You can brag about lifting a thousand pounds with your legs once you are doing it with squats. This exercise is performed in a straight up and down movement and focuses all the weight entirely on your legs.  

However, if you are like me, squats can be extremely tough on your body. I had to have two stomach surgeries because of the damage done by performing heavy squats. Also, my right ankle would often swell up during squats anytime I went over 225 pounds. I either needed to find a suitable alternative or wear long pants for the rest of my life to cover up my pipe cleaner legs.

An Alternative to Squats

This is when I decided to purchase the Powerline Vertical Leg Press for my home gym. Powerline is Body Solid’s home gym equipment. Vertical leg press machines are rarely found in any commercial gym. They are like seeing a unicorn run across your backyard rare. I’m friends with quite a few gym owners and they all tell me that having a vertical leg press would increase their insurance premiums. It can be a bit of a dangerous machine if you don’t have any clue on what you are doing. However, if you have any common sense at all, then you will be fine. Sometimes, though, natural selection and Darwinism is needed to thin out the rest of the pack.

Why You Should Listen to Me

I have been working in the fitness field for almost two decades. I helped manage a gym for a long period of time and then decided to go into Education and personal training. I have transformed weaklings into beasts and the obese into fitness fanatics. I have worked out in almost every gym within a hundred mile radius, but I also have a home gym full of equipment that I have placed my seal of approval on.

The Powerline Vertical Leg Press

I make no bones about it, I love this machine. I feel like I get a much better leg workout doing these vertical leg presses than I did even with squats. There are reasons for these feelings, though! It has a good look to it and is crafted of durable alloy steel with an extremely tough powder coat finish.

Simple to Use

Laying down, place your back fully onto the back support. Put your feet on the platform above you. Push up with your feet and pull out the safety pins so you have full range of motion. Powerline says you can place 400 pounds of weights on this machine. I have used this weight on the machine and still felt perfectly safe. It isolates your lower body while fully supporting your back and neck. Squats can definitely damage your back if you are not careful, so the Powerline vertical leg press is a safe alternative.

Olympic or Standard Weights

You can use either types of weight plates on this machine. They recommend if you use Olympic weights to place adapter sleeves around the plate posts for a better fit. I must confess that I don’t do this when I put on Olympic weights. The Olympic plates can get a bit jiggly while using without the adapter sleeves, but so far I have had no problems.

Perfect Fit

This leg machine takes up the least amount of room compared to other leg machines. It will basically fit in a four foot by four foot space. And because it raises straight up and then back down, you really won’t need any other room around it if you are tight on space for your home gym.

No Spotter Needed

We have all been asked that difficult questions by strangers in the gym. “Can you spot me on my squats?” The next thing you know, you have your arms wrapped around a sweaty stranger as you spoon him as he bends up and down. There is nothing better than watching an awkward squat spotter. This vertical leg press does not have a need for a spotter. If you are in a difficult position, just slide the safety pins in to hold the weight in place. And even if the weight comes down all the way, there are safety stoppers that will not let it get anywhere close to crushing you.


If I were to give this a rating, I would give it a total of three and a half out of four stars. It does everything that it needs to make my legs grow. I can do full range motion or just calf raises. The back and neck support is great. It really does focus the movement entirely on the legs. I took off just half a star because it does squeak and make a bit of a grinding noise when being used. Oiling or greasing it up can help fix some of this noise, though. If you don’t have a leg machine in your own gym, and squats are getting a bit hard on your body, switch over to the Powerline vertical leg press. You will not be disappointed!

Editor’s Note: You can get this unit from Fitness Factory, Body Solid’s online store.