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Squat machines are a great addition to any home gym setup, as they allow users to get a fantastic leg workout, without the risk that comes with traditional squatting. By having your legs, and/or arms secured, you’ll be able to stabilize and balance your body throughout the entire squat.
Many are designed to train a variety of muscle groups, not just your legs, However, not all squat machines are created equal, and there are quite a few options on the market. Some squat machines are multifunctional, enabling you to do a variety of workouts on them. And some have convenient features, like adjustable heights.
If you’re not familiar with squat machines, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what you can do on a squat machine and how to choose the best model for your specific needs.
Our Picks for the Best Squat Machines of 2022:
- Best Squat Machine for Home: Sunny Health & Fitness — Squat Assist Row-N-Ride
- Best Squat Machine for Bad Knees: The DB Method — The Machine
- Best Squat Machine for Glutes: Marcy — Squat Rider
- Best Sissy Squat Machine: Sporfit — Sissy Squat Machine
- Key Features: Full-body training, built-in LCD display to track your workout, and easy to move.
- Machine Weight: 27.3-pounds
- Maximum Recommended User Weight: 220-pounds
The Squat Assist Row-N-Ride is designed to target nearly every muscle in your body, offering a lightweight, convenient way to get in a great workout from the comfort of your home. This machine also allows you to perform deadlifts and chest presses. While you won’t be able to replicate the effects of all these exercises with standard equipment, like barbells or dumbbells, it’s still a nice option if you’re looking for a way to add some lightweight form work to your exercise plan.
With a four way adjustable seat, self-leveling foot pedals and a comfortable handlebar, this squat machine is a solid choice for those who suffer from lower body aches and pains, or need assistance with their squat form. Several reviewers rave about the quality of the Squat Assist Row-N-Ride in addition to mentioning the budget-friendly price.
- The full-body focus is a great touch, as you’ll be able to train nearly every muscle during your workout.
- We also like that this machine is designed to easily fold and transport, so you can put it away when not in use.
- While there are three resistance settings, eventually users may find they need more resistance than this machine can provide.
- Because it requires using your legs AND arms, adding extra weight is very challenging.
- Key Features: Designed to shift your weight back, putting the focus on the glutes and taking pressure off your knees.
- Machine Weight: 29.5-pounds
- Maximum Recommended User Weight: 250-pounds
The DB Method Machine is a smooth, comfortable machine that puts all the attention on strengthening your glutes. If you suffer from knee pain, shifting your weight back into the heels and focusing on your glutes, is a great way to squat without exacerbating achy joints in your lower body.
The DB Method Machine is adjustable and includes wheels so you can easily move it as needed although it doesn’t fold up like some of the other options. For an additional $35, you can purchase an accessory that holds a phone or tablet so you can follow along with video workouts, but this isn’t included with the baseline package.
The main drawbacks of this squat machine include the steeper price tag and lack of adjustable resistance. The DB Method claims that the pre-set resistance is perfect to create the “burn” in your glutes, but some people may need additional resistance as they progress through their workouts.
- This machine does an excellent job of relieving hip and knee pressure, creating a comfortable squat workout that primarily challenges the glutes and hips.
- The resistance isn’t adjustable, so all users have to work with the built-in resistance system, regardless of their fitness level.
- Key Features: Lightweight, portable, and designed to target the glutes and quads.
- Machine Weight: 29-pounds
- Maximum Recommended User Weight: 250-pounds
Marcy’s Squat Rider is a lightweight, portable squat machine, designed to emphasize the glutes and quads throughout the entire movement.
The seat and handles can easily be adjusted with the twist of a knob, though some Amazon reviews said that this is challenging to use for individuals over six feet tall. This squat machine is foldable for easy storage and includes a built-in screen to help you track your workout in real-time. With a price point of only $99, this is one of the most affordable options on our list that still provides upper body support and stability.
- For training your glutes on a budget, the Marcy Squat Rider is a fantastic option that’s easy to use, and includes multiple levels of resistance
- Some taller reviewers found this difficult to use, and reported that the at-home assembly can be a little tricky.
- Key Features: Durable construction allows you to get a very challenging quad workout, and you can perform several different exercises with this machine.
- Machine Weight: 17.9-pounds
- Maximum Recommended User Weight: 320-pounds
If fully-supported squat machines aren’t your thing, give sissy squats a try. Unlike other machines that hold you in place, and keep you moving through a fixed range of motion, sissy squats only lock your lower legs in place, allowing your upper body to move freely.
You’ll be able to get a deep squat with extra emphasis on the quads, and if your bodyweight isn’t challenging enough, you can add any amount of external resistance you’d like. The machine doesn’t include any weights, but if you have barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, or any other heavy objects around the house, you can hold those while you squat.
This machine offers versatility thanks to a design that allows you to perform several types of workouts in addition to squats such as pushups, lunges and even sit-ups. With dimensions of 36 inches x 17 inches x 14.5 inches, this machine takes up a good amount of floor space and doesn’t fold up to be easily stored, but you can still move it around if needed.
- As this machine doesn’t provide resistance, you can use any amount of external weight you choose, so you’ll never outgrow this machine.
- Sissy squats are an advanced exercise, and can put extra strain on the knees. Those brand-new to training, or those with knee pain, may wish to avoid this machine.
How to Use a Squat Machine
A squat machine is designed to help you train your quads, hamstrings and glutes, without putting a heavy bar on your back or having to worry about balance and safety.
If your squat machine has handles, be sure to hold on to them the entire time. Many squat machines also provide a workout for your core muscles, so keeping your hands firmly in place will keep your body safe and secure.
With a sissy squat machine, you won’t be able to support your upper body, so start light and ease into things, only squatting through the range of motion you feel comfortable in.
When performing a squat, be sure to move in a slow, controlled manner. Be sure to keep your feet flat on the ground, and avoid your heel lifting. Many find that shifting the hips back first, rather than bending the knees, helps keep the tension in your leg muscles, not your back.
You should be feeling the muscles in your legs and glutes working, so if you feel your lower back taking over, you’re doing something wrong, and need to shift the focus back to your legs.
As individual squat machines may have slightly different functions, be sure to consult the owner’s manual of your machine to learn how to safely use it.
The Benefits of a Squat Machine
The main benefits of squat machines are the safety and convenience provided.
Many gym-goers have difficulties with traditional squats. Loading up a barbell on your back and squatting freely will certainly train your legs, but many aren’t comfortable using heavy free weights and unloading a bar from a squat rack.
Using improper form can cause back, hip or knee issues, and if you misstep with a heavy weight on your back, you may accidentally drop the barbell.
With a squat machine, you don’t have a heavy weight on your shoulders, and the machine ensures you’re using the proper form. Most users will be able to squat to a full range of motion, which is very challenging with a heavy bar on your back.
Most machines are designed for home use, so you’ll be able to get a complete leg workout from the comfort of your home, with a single piece of equipment. Traditional squats require heavy weights, which most of us don’t have in our homes. These weights are also quite expensive, and bulky to transport!
Once you have your squat machine set up, you’ll have everything you need to get a great lower body workout in, without worrying about handling heavy weights.
What to Look for in a Squat Machine
The main thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the level of support provided. Some machines offer full-body support, while others only target the legs.
Some machines will keep your hands, feet and legs locked into position, providing maximum support and safety. The downside here is that you’re locked into a fixed range of motion, and it may be difficult to customize the machine to your exact preferences.
Other options, like a sissy squat machine, only secure your feet, leaving your upper body free to move as you please. This gives you more freedom to move, but may be challenging for beginners.
If you want more safety and stability, choose a machine that also secures your upper body. If you prefer more of a challenge and trust your balance, a sissy squat may be a better option.
While most squat machines are very light and portable, some options, like the sissy squat machine, are a bit challenging to move around.
If you want to put your machine away between uses, be sure to choose an option that’s lightweight and designed to be portable. Some squat machines easily fold and are very light, designed specifically for portability.
Finally, the price will play a role when shopping, but rest assured that you don’t need to break the bank to get a high-quality squat machine. One of the machines on our list is over $300, but two are under $100, an excellent price for a piece of workout equipment.
Does a squat machine work your abs?
While this isn’t the main function, some of the machines do indeed train your core muscles. The Marcy Squat Rider is designed to work the core muscles while squatting, and the sissy squat will engage your core to keep you balanced and upright.
Can I build muscle without heavy weights?
Yes! Squat machines engage your quad, hamstring and gluteal muscles just like any other form of squatting, perfect for toning your lower body and building lean muscle.
You won’t have a heavy load on your back, but that’s okay. By going through a full range of motion, at a controlled speed, you can still create enough of a stimulus to build muscle over time, even with lighter weights. Strength training requires resistance, but that doesn’t have to be a barbell.
Why can’t I do squats without a machine?
You certainly can, and if you belong to a gym, you’ll likely have plenty of squat and leg press options at your disposal.
However, many fitness enthusiasts find squats intimidating, and possibly dangerous if the form isn’t perfect. And if you have a history of hip, knee or back problems, heavy squatting could aggravate the condition, so a squat machine could be a gentler, joint-friendly option.
Is a squat machine better than squatting with a barbell?
It’s not better or worse, it’s different. A squat machine will isolate your legs, allowing you to focus all of your attention on the target muscles. With a barbell squat, you’ll need to worry about balance, core strength and safety. If you’re lacking in core strength, barbell squatting can be dangerous and difficult to do with proper form.
If you love lifting with barbells, keep squatting! But if you don’t enjoy barbell squats, a squat machine is a great alternative.
Squat machines are a great way to train your glutes, hamstrings and quads from the comfort of your home. If you’re not a fan of squatting with a barbell or don’t feel comfortable using one, a squat machine is a great alternative to help you train your legs safely. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions included with your machine, and you can start squatting in no time.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.