Picture of Homemade Leg Press Machine
Hello! This instructable will show how to make a Leg Press exercise machine capable of over 200lb resistance. It is fairly easy and simple to make, not to mention safe to operate.

After getting a herniated disk in my neck from doing the traditional barbell-behind-the-neck squats, I needed something that would allow me to continue working my legs while not putting any strain on my neck. After searching the net, I found nothing that I could make that would fit the bill. So, after much thought, I designed this machine in AutoCAD, then put it together one weekend in the space of around 4 hours for a total cost of $36.11 (compared with  $270 for the dangerous looking Body Solid vertical leg press machine, skipping straight to the $1000-$1500 range for anything better).

The machine is designed off of a creeper (flat board on wheels used to work under cars) that is used in a vertical position to allow you to slide up and down a wall, with slots for up to 4 of the 45lb plates (180lb plus weight of machine (32lb) = 212lb). The attached PDF's give dimensioned drawings of the Leg Press machine, as well as multiple 3D views.

See video below or go to http://youtu.be/EafB3TLPGKc for a demonstration of how the machine works!

Ready? Click Step 1 to see what you need to get started...

[[Video(http://youtu.be/EafB3TLPGKc) ]]

lvanl41 year ago
Or just buy a barbell and squat...
Rob O3 years ago
Interesting. Do the wheels gouge up the walls??
They will. But that's not the biggest concern for me. When drywall fails from being pushed against, it develops cracks running through the gypsum core (which is only covered with 2 thick sheets of paper). Once it has been sufficiently compromised, the wheels will just punch straight through the wall. Now the drywall has to be replaced or at least majorly patched up.

Simple solution - attach a piece of 1/2" plywood or MDF to the wall wide enough to span at least 2 of the studs - 3 is better and would give you a surface about 34" wide so you don't have to worry about running off the surface. It can be painted to blend into the wall better. It could be held in place with as little as 6-8 drywall screws (2" - 2-1/2" long). And if you are renting, when you move out you'll just have 6-8 screw holes to patch rather than the fixing the whole wall.
This is cool, can't believe it took me a year to find it.

A suggestion: Make the plywood 3/4" and use 1-2 inch wide pieces(4 of them) the same length as the main board and place them 2 to a side so that they form tracks for the wheels to ride inside of. If the wheels won't allow a 3/4" deep channel, then use 1/2 inch for them, but I would still use 3/4" for the back. Remember your head is basically "inside" those red pieces and would make it much less likely to slip sideways and hurt you if say a foot slips or something. And if it does start sliding sideways you can't just let it go to release the pressure of the weights as the red bars would simply slam into the tops of your shoulders.

That said, the machine itself is pretty awesome, definitely going to be making this.
Big J Rob O3 years ago
I'm glad he isn't renting from me. That wall will need repairs in no time at all.
viperguy Rob O3 years ago
I would also be concerned about the walls. Maybe hot wheels plastic track for the little cars could be placed on the walls with two sided tape. This would keep the unit rolling straight and protect the wall from the wheels.

Nice idea....
vestremera2 years ago
Just switch to front squats. You can even used high tolerance metal saw horses for a rack and load way more than 200#
frapedia2 years ago
Good work!
I would suggest skatevoard wheels because they do not tend to slip and they are also flexible so have a better grip on the wall.
whoofoto2 years ago
Replacing the two bottom wheels with larger diameter wheels will slant the top towards the wall and keep the press naturally leaning towards the wall. In that way the machine won't fall away from the wall at the end of the exercise session. It would require incorporating a corrective angling to keep the board that one's back touches vertical.
imperio2 years ago
Good work! .... initially appears a machine to make torture!
Italiano: Bel lavoro!....a prima vista sembra una macchina per torture!
Imperio da Firenze
Yeah, I'm sure there many ways to make this a little better, but the idea must come first to even have something to improve (take cars, for example). This is a great idea and an awesome Instructable. Did anyone notice how the real build components are color coded to match the CAD drawings? That's the type of thinking and detail that everyone should use when posting to this site. Great Work! Ok, here are my suggestions for the improvements list: 1. Yes, put something on the wall, maybe with some tracks for the casters to follow or maybe the wall part has the casters? Or possibly use extended length, heavy duty drawer slides and build the whole thing as a one unit? 2. Extend (or make adjustable) the bottom "legs" to position the device at the correct height to start the exercise. In any case, this a wonderful solution. Hats off to you for not just giving up on lifting after your injury, but instead finding and developing a solution, then sharing it with the rest of us. Thanks.
zacker3 years ago
Nice job. might i suggest that if you arent against making a hile in your ceiling, or if you are doing this in a basement or garage, if you install a good heavy duty pulley above this machine, in the ceiling joist, you can run a cable from the top of this machine up and around the pulley then back down to the bottom back of the machine so it can stay upright against the wall when not in use.
Makedo3 years ago
The idea is ok. you will need a plywood sheet to push against. the wall will fail. I recommend using wide white rubber rollers to keep from marking up the wall and floor. they don't make any wall coverings that would not fail with the pressures your pushing with. If you add legs to the bottom to prevent it from tipping when your on the floor. It would prevent it from laying on top of you if you slip or hurt yourself. The idea is sound. I like it.
STCVKR3 years ago
Amazing creation, no doubt. It resembles a hacksquat machine in most gyms. You said you got a hernia from regular squats though, it sounds like you need to adjust your form, and maybe invest in a weightlifting belt.
wsecomp STCVKR3 years ago
He said he got a herniated disk in his neck. Yes, changing his form would help, but I'm not sure the belt would help much (except with his form). Also, it would depend on what, if any, cushioning was used on the bar.
fotune3 years ago
sgooby pls
roubadg3 years ago
this is awesome, love it...