Garage Gym Substitutes for Leg Machines?

Going to begin a program (Tnation DC Training Article) that calls for the following commercial gym exercises:

  • Leg Press
  • Machine Hack Squat
  • Glute-Ham Raise

I have a well-stocked garage gym, but even still some of these lifts I can’t replicate. Looking for best substitutes for these lifts. Was considering the following options but open to suggestions.

  • High Handle Trap Bar “Squat” (more knee bend than TBDL) to replace leg press
  • Landmine Dip “Belt Squat” to replace Machine Hack Squat
  • Nordic Curls on FID bench w/ leg attachment rather than GHR

I really like heavy dumbbell deficit squats done on bumper plates. You can see a video demonstration on how to set it up on John Meadows channel. It’s pretty simple and you can add bands too


Front Squat all the way. If you can’t get used to the form, they make bar attachments that make it more comfortable.

Also, SLDL and RDL are really great to learn, helps you with mind body connection and hip hinging properly.

A lot of people like barbell good mornings but I can’t get used to them.

Honestly nothing beats an ass-kicking amount of good ole back squats. Could practice low bar vs high bar if you find your quads lag behind your hams.

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Will have to check this out. I can’t picture it in my head but will give meadows a YouTube search. Thanks!

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Here you go, I checked back through Odin Force Leg days to find the hyperlink for you!


Wow, thanks!

Thanks for reply TT. Yeah I also like Front Squats but never been keen on high rep front squats personally due to trying to maintain the rack position becomes distracting over the leg work.

In place of front squats I was thinking to use SSB squats as those hit quads a bit more than regular squats (not as much as front squats though)…can go heavier and doing high rep sets will be a bit easier than the front squat.

GM’s and RDL will find their way into the program as well. I am limited on what “hamstring” exercises to pick in a home gym setting so these often find a spot in my training. The challenge is finding when do to RDL/GM so the lower back doesn’t take a hit over several days without a break when also programming in deadlifts, heavy rows, and squats.

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Ok now I see how this is done. Before watching the video I was trying to picture how the dumbbell was held and why the need for the deficit. Now it’s very clear. Might have to give this a try as I like that it hits the legs but seems like it would be easier on the low back as opposed to something with a barbell. Could use a diy loading pin and straight handle to load it with more weight than a dumbbell; I wouldn’t have a clue where to start this in terms of weight for a 1x20 set.

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No, definitely a different deal than hack squats and machines

Excellent! I’m glad the video helped! I was going to mention that another move I do in place of a hack Squat is a barbell hack squat! Takes some time to get the form down, IE not hitting your hamstrings with the barbell. But I’ve got it down now and they feel great! There is no movement that makes my quads burn as bad as these, especially from the starting position before you pull the bar from the floor!


I have two additional ideas for you:

Landmine hack squats to sub for the machine hack squats. And single leg stability ball leg curls for the glute ham raise.


Didn’t consider either of those, thanks! landmine hack squats sound like an interesting solution to the odd bar placement of BB Hack Squats.

I had thought about bb hacks…never actually tried these so I am sure there is a bit of learning curve but you are kinda selling me on it with the quads burn.

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All right thanks everyone for the feedback. Given me a lot of exercises and variations to try out these next couple weeks.

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Banded RDL’s will really hit the hammies and glutes. Band attached to the rack behind you and around the hip crease.

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There’s obviously tons of options with all the bars you have, so the only thing I’d add is you don’t have to overly worry about replacing exact “feel” for DC training - like you don’t have to perfectly mimic a leg press, just find something that hits quads. Just rotate through movements you can progress on, let you mostly hit the target muscle, and you’re comfortable enough with to really push.

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Very good points. I always try to run a program as close to written the first time through if I can, but to your point as I researched DC it became apparent that picking 3 exercises you can progressively load weight on and apply high effort to each session are really the hallmarks of the program. The Tnation version is in that spirit of intent but as you mentioned any three leg exercises for quads and & hamstrings will do. Glad I made this post though as I now have a lot more options for things that I probably wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

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