Most people know that you should work out your legs, but for some reason, doing a leg workout isn’t the first priority for most folks.
I’ve heard many excuses, but the main one I keep hearing is, my apartment is small and I don’t have much space to put a leg machine.
If you want to train your legs or just do some cardio, and space is an issue, this article is for you. We picked the best small exercise equipment for working out your legs.
Some of the leg machines we reviewed let you work your legs while sitting down, doing your thing, whatever that may be (work, study, watching TV, etc…). These let you burn some calories and tone your legs while multitasking doing other stuff.
If you are looking for a hard workout, we also show you some small leg exercise equipment that lets you get in short bursts of intense training that will definitely break a sweat.
The best thing about these leg machines is that they are affordable and are small enough to fit under your desk or bed, or just take them wherever you go.
- Best 7 Small Exercise Machines for Legs
- Why Leg Workouts at Home are Important
- Benefits of Doing Leg Workouts While Sitting
Best 7 Small Exercise Machines for Legs
- High-intensity Exercise Breaks at Home or Work
- Less Impact than Walking
- Very Study can Last Decades
- Walk While You Work
- Light & Portable
- Low Step-Up
- Exercise While Sitting Down
- Choose Resistance Easy to Difficult
- Unobtrusive and Quiet
- Smooth & Impact-free Motion
- Designed for Multitasking at Home or Office
- Giant Comfortable Pedals
- Adds Resistance to Any Workout Program
- Portable – Take Anywhere you Want
- Includes a Set of Resistance Bands with Handles
- High Intensity Full Body Workout
- Strengthens Stabilizing Core Muscles
- Keeps Leg Muscles Active in Sedentary People
- Improves Low-Body Blood Circulation
- No Impact on Joints
Xiser Mini Stairmaster
The manufacturers insist the Xiser Mini Stairmaster was history’s first stepping machine and the only stepping sprinter currently available. People who have used the Xiser sweat that it’s one of the best compact leg machines you can buy.
The body is made of aircraft-grade aluminum, which means it shouldn’t rust even after decades of use.
A reciprocating hydraulic pump gives the Xiser its adjustable resistance. As you push down on one pedal, the pump forces the other pedal back up to its starting position. You can make it easier or harder to push the pedals down via a brass knob on the front of the machine.
If you’re worried about your joints, the Xiser has less impact than even a brisk walk. The motion is designed to mimic climbing a regular staircase, but each step is short and your feet never leave the surface, thus there is no impact on your knees.
The Xiser Mini Stairmaster is great for HIIT. You can do short bursts of intense exercise, then rest, and repeat. This machine takes some balance to use, which makes it a bit difficult to multitask. Instead, the idea is to give you brief breaks of intense cardio and leg training interspersed throughout your day, whether at home or at the office.
The Xiser targets mainly your quads and glutes muscles, your core willl also work to keep you stabilized. If you want an easy way to set your legs and posterior on fire at regular intervals, this mini stairmaster is light and compact enough to bring with you wherever you go.
It has a surface area of 21 by 14 inches (53.5 x 35.5 cm). Unfolded, it’s about 10 inches tall (25.5 cm), and it folds almost completely flat to a height of only 4 inches. It weighs 14 pounds (6 kg) with a massive maximum user weight of 400 pounds (181 kg).
Each pedal is 10 inches long and 4 inches wide, which should give you plenty of foot space. If you have balance issues, keep in mind that the pedals are only about 2 inches apart.
Sunny Under Desk Treadmill
Sunny’s Under Desk Treadmill is a compact flat treadmill with no incline and no-frills. If you prefer training with a natural movement, like walking, rather than a simulated movement path, this under desk treadmill is for you. While steppers and ellipticals are great, walking on a treadmill has a more natural feel to it than other cardio machines.
The Under Desk Treadmill comes with a digital monitor, built-in shock absorbers, transportation wheels, and a remote control. It’s quiet enough that you can’t hear it in the background when you’re talking on the phone.
You can adjust the speed from 0.5 to 3.75 miles per hour (0.8 to 6 km/h). That’s just fast enough to get your muscles toned, but not too fast that it would distract you from your work.
It’s designed to give you an upright workout beside your desk and stores underneath when you’re not using it.
It does need to be plugged in, so make sure you have an outlet available close to the front of the machine.
There are no handles you can grab to keep your balance while exercising, but since this treadmill is for walking (not running), you should have no issues feeling safe. If you prefer, you may want to use it near a wall for safety.
The machine measures 50 by 21 inches on the floor (127 x 53 cm) with a low step-up height of just over 6 inches (15.5 cm). It has a maximum capacity of 220 pounds (100 kg) and weighs 54 pounds (25 kg). It’s very light for a treadmill, but it is still making it the heaviest machines on our list.
The actual running deck is only 39 by 14 inches (100 x 35.5 cm). If you have a long gait or are taller than about 6 feet (1.82 m), you may have to adjust your stride a little.
DeskCycle Under Desk Cycle
The Under Desk Cycle can give your legs a workout under your desk while you sit back and get things done. Its guts are made of a quiet magnetic flywheel and seven sealed steel bearings that users say make the machine sturdy and long-lasting.
There are eight resistance settings, and you can pedal both forward and backward. The maximum speed is 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).
Pedaling at maximum speed on the highest setting will give you 400 watts of resistance. To put that in context, unless you’re a super-athlete, you probably won’t be able to go at the maximum for more than a few minutes. There are also plenty of lower settings for light cardio, endurance training and even rehab.
The DeskCycle is 24 inches long and 20 inches wide (61 x 51 cm). At their highest, the pedals are 10 inches (25.5 cm) off the ground.
If you are worried that your legs are too long or your desk is to low, you can check the height by stacking books up to a similar level under your desk and making sure your knees still fit without hitting the desk.
If you’re just under 6 feet (182 cm), your desk will need to be about 27 inches high (68.5 cm).
The machine weighs 23 pounds (10.5kg). Since it’s designed to be used while you’re seated, it doesn’t have an official maximum weight. As long as your chair supports most of your weight, it can probably take a person weighing up to about 350 pounds without any issue.
The DeskCycle comes with an LCD display, rubber feet for stability, and Velcro pedal straps for safety. It also has a convenient Velcro strap to attach the cycle to your chair so it doesn’t slide away from you.
Cubii Under Desk Elliptical
Cubii’s Under Desk Elliptical lets you keep your legs moving on a mini track while you remain seated. It’s impact-free with a gliding circular motion so you can multitask without thinking about the movement.
There are eight levels of adjustable resistance that work for pedaling both forward and backward. It has an LCD monitor and a carrying handle that also doubles as an anchor where you can attach resistance bands if you want to work out your upper body too. The resistance bands are not included, but these are very inexpensive and be purchased online.
This machine tones your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads. The Cubii won’t build muscle mass, but it will strengthen your legs, get your heart pumping, loosen your joints, and increase your blood circulation. Since the Cubii was designed specifically for workplaces, so it was built to be almost silent. It makes about as much sound as a desk fan at low speed.
The Under Desk Elliptical is 10 inches (25.5 cm) high and measures 23 by 18 inches (33 x 45.7cm) on the ground. It weighs about 28 pounds (12.7 kg), heavy enough to keep it anchored in place while you pedal, but still light enough to carry around.
The spacious foot pedals can fit up to the largest shoe sizes. At their tallest, the pedals are about 10 inches (25.5 cm) off the ground, which you can add to your knee height plus 2 or 3 inches to make sure it fits under your desk.
For balance reasons, the machine is meant to be used only while you’re seated. The maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds (113 kg) takes into the account only the weight you put directly on the pedals. If you’re on the heavier side, you can still use it as long as you keep most of your weight in your chair.
These resistance bands by Fit Simplify come in a pre-formed loop to make them easier and more comfortable to use even if you’re not good at tying knots. They’re made of 100% natural latex, which is more durable than TPE or rubber.
Each band can stretch as much as four times its original length, so you won’t have to worry about it snapping back in your face. They’re also sweat-resistant and won’t end up smelling bad after prolonged use.
The set is color-coded by each band’s thickness and amount of resistance. The lightest band is green and has a resistance that feels like 2 to 4 pounds of weight. The heaviest is black and feels like 25 to 30 pounds. Each loop is 12 inches long and 2 inches wide.
You can integrate the bands into your favorite workout program to boost the difficulty of practically any exercise. You can use them with Pilates, yoga, stretching, and rehab programs or simulate free weight exercises for toning or mass. Exercising with resistance bands is easy on your joints and can help you work out around back or knee injuries.
The bands come with a travel bag and an instructional guide. One of the things many beginners worry about with resistance bands is that their creativity will run out halfway through the workout, and they won’t know what movements to do. To make things easier, FitSimply comes with an e-book and a link to a comprehensive set of online workout videos after purchase.
Sunny Mini Stepper with Exercise Bands
Sunny’s Mini Stepper is a compact two-pedal step machine with hydraulic resistance. This stepper lets you adjust the height of the motion so you can take long, slower steps or gear up for short, fast bursts. It’s designed to be used standing up with your full weight pressing down on the pedals.
This one comes with a set of resistance bands with comfortable handles on one side and clips on the other. You can clip them directly to the top of the stepper and get in an upper-body workout while you pump those legs. The lower-body stepping plus the upper-body resistance bands are what make this trainer the most versatile one on our list.
The Sunny Mini Stepper isn’t meant for multitasking, which is why we love the included resistance bands. They can let you work up a quick full-body sweat at regular intervals throughout your day to get you toned between work periods.
This is another trainer where you have to learn to keep your balance while training. It helps strengthen the stabilizing muscles of your core, giving you a more well-rounded workout than a cycle or elliptical. You may want to use it by a wall or other stable surface at the beginning.
The machine’s floor footprint is 16 by 12 inches (40.5 x 30.5 cm). It weighs 14 pounds (6.4 kg) with a maximum user weight of 220 lbs (100 kg). If you’re not much of a DIY-er, the only assembly you’ll need to do is tighten the pulley cable, which is easy to find.
At their highest, the pedals are about 14 inches off the ground. They’re over 11 inches long, which gives you plenty of foot room. The Mini Stepper is designed to be used with mostly the balls of your feet, so we love that the pedals come with non-slip texture. This helps prevents accidents and lets you shift your focus to your simultaneous upper-body training without missing a step.
Leg Activator (For Seniors)
The Leg Activator by Silverfeat is a passive exercise machine designed for seniors. It arrives fully assembled. All you have to do is sit back and relax with your feet up on the pedals, and the machine will do all the work for you.
This trainer focuses on increasing blood circulation in your legs, which can help prevent varicose veins and leg cramps. If you’re not able to walk around much, it can keep your leg muscles active, fight cellulitis and decrease leg inflammation.
The movement runs in a precise, continuous cycle without vibrations and jolts. The pedals move smoothly back and forth on a minimal track a couple of inches long.
If you have been sedentary for a long time, you should be able to feel the improvement in your leg circulation. It can also improve lower-body swelling.
The machine measures 18 by 14 inches (45.7 x 35.5 cm) on the ground and weighs 10 pounds (4.5 kg). The pedals on top are 8 inches (20.3 cm) high with no edges, so you can use them no matter how big your feet are. There’s no maximum user weight, because it’s designed to be used while seated with light foot pressure only. This makes the Leg Activator also idea for heavy people who need to improve their lower body circulation.
There are two speed settings with a slight difference of about 1400 and 1600 steps every 30 minutes. It needs to be plugged in, so make sure you have an electrical outlet handy.
Why Leg Workouts at Home are Important
It often surprises us how many people have a mental blockage against working out their legs.
Some exercise enthusiasts believe leg machines are too big and bulky. Some say setting aside a day to work on their legs is a waste of time. Every time the angel on their shoulder reminds them not to skip leg day, the devil on their other shoulder tells them no one can see their legs anyway.
We believe leg day is too important to ignore, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Your legs contain your body’s largest muscle group, which means that leg exercises burn more calories than working out any other body part.
Leg exercises tend to be compound movements, that is, they work multiple muscle groups at a time. The stair-stepping machine, for instance, hits your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and thighs. It also sets your core on fire and pushes your heart rate into the aerobic zone, improving your fitness level.
Besides being great cardio, leg day will give you greater general stability. Neglecting your legs can lead to weaker stabilizing muscles. This can explain a lot of seemingly unrelated aches and pains in your torso. The stronger your legs are, the less prone you’ll be to injuring your back.
Exercising your legs also strengthens your leg bones. The stress that a good leg workout puts on your leg bones increases their density and reduces your chance of leg injury in the future.
The Benefits of Doing Leg Workouts While Sitting
Evidence for the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle has been piling up for years. Today it’s too strong to ignore. Sitting down regularly for too long can screw up your metabolism, increase your risk of disease, shorten your life expectancy and bring on obesity.
Researchers believe sitting for more than 8 hours a day without much physical movement is unhealthy. Sitting keeps your legs mostly motionless, which can lead to poor circulation and stiffness. Over time, you can even lose mobility and develop varicose veins.
When you sit, your body’s biggest muscles stay relaxed and don’t use much glucose. This can make you vulnerable to diabetes.
The best thing to counter those risks is simply moving around. Even just a short moderate physical activity can reduce the negative effects of too much sitting.
With the best small leg workout machines on our list, you can even get your exercise while sitting. If you plan to multitask, many of the movements are automatic and repetitive so you won’t get too distracted.
Doing a light workout while sitting can also improve your focus and concentration, making you more productive at work or study.
If you work in an office with other people, these machines are subtle and unobtrusive.
Conclusion & Final Words
If you’ve gotten used to sitting down all day, these small leg machines will let you gradually ease into a more physically-active lifestyle. There are moderate options for light exercise and a few hardcore options.
Whether you want to burn a few calories, get your heart pumping, these small exercise machines plus a positive attitude can get you big results.