Leg stretcher machines help martial artists and gymnasts achieve the full splits, which is considered as a major fitness milestone by most, me included.
While you can always get the flexibility you seek without machines and gimmicks, let’s face it.
Getting the full 180-degree split takes consistent, progressive stretches.
If you are going to do it by yourself without a leg stretcher, you’ll need to maintain a progress log, make micro-adjustments to the angle of the stretching and do it repeatedly until you get to your goals.
Without a coach, that’s a stretch. No Pun intended.
With a leg stretcher machine, all that you’ve got to do is show up. You know when you are stretching enough or when you’ve gone too far. It’s easy, the machine keeps track for you.
It’s like having someone to grab your hands and guide you through the process.
All said, there are hundreds of leg stretcher machines on the market. Not all of them are worth your attention, effort and money.
Some of them are so poorly designed that it’s a recipe for an injury. Others are just uncomfortable and cumbersome to use.
Don’t sweat. We have handpicked the best leg stretcher machines for ya. These machines were picked as the best based on quality, reliability, function, and cost.
Strap in and enjoy the read.
Leg Stretcher Machines - Our Top Picks
Below are the leg stretcher machines that we have handpicked to be the best on the market based on research, testing, and personal experience.
1. Pro Leg Stretcher – Editor’s Choice – Best Bang for Buck
- Durable metal construction
- Heavily padded back rests and leg rests
- Large wheel that’s easy to control and rotate
- 20 rotations to do the 180-degree split
- Gear based system that does not give away under tension
- Stop latch that helps you lock the gear at a specific tension
So before we even get started I must say I am a little biased towards this machine because it is the one that i use on a daily basis. I did quite a bit of research and this machine was the best that i could find without going into the upper level more expensive stretchers that i could not afford.
I have had this leg stretcher for quite some time now (3+ years) and I use it just about everyday, and it has held up, done the job, and has not given me any trouble at all.
This is the one that I recommend if you want the best machine for the money. You can check it out on amazon by clicking here.
Pro Leg Stretcher Review
The Pro Leg Stretcher is hands down one of the best leg stretcher machines that you can buy.
The build quality is top notch, it is extremely easy to use and you can make micro-adjustments, which is crucial when you stretch the adductors.
You don’t want to overdo it and the Pro Leg Stretcher ensures that you won’t.
This is a steering-wheel styled machine with a thickly padded seat, backrest and foot rests.
All that you need to do is place it on a level surface, sit comfortably on the seat, attach the steering wheel, adjust the legs on the leg rests and start stretching.
A gentle turn of the wheel will push the leg holders and your legs outwards in tiny increments. 20-rotations is what it takes to achieve the 180-degree split.
Unlike cheap leg stretchers that use a cable pulley system, the Pro Leg stretcher uses a gear mechanism which is more durable and easier to control. It will not snap away under tension.
Also, one of the best features is the stop latch. When you are using a leg stretcher machine, you want to be able to hold the outstretched legs in a specific position until your muscles get adapted to the stress.
The stop latch allows you to do just that. When you begin to feel a tiny pinch in your hamstrings and inner thighs, use the stop latch to lock the stretcher in that position. Hold it for two to three minutes, release and repeat twice to thrice a day, or whatever you are comfortable with.
You can check this one out on amazon by clicking here.
2. Proforce Stretch Master – Best Overall Pick for Budget Shoppers
- Tubular steel construction
- Padded folding back rest
- Removable steering wheel for easy storage
- Stop latch to let you lock on to a position
- Great value
ProForce Stretch Master Machine Review
The Stretchmaster II is the second iteration in the Stretchmaster range of leg stretchers from Proforce.
It is a very well-made unit constructed from tubular steel and features a near-identical design to our #1 pick.
It comes pre-assembled. All that you need to do is attach the steering wheel and you are all set.
It features a padded, folding back rest, leg rests and a comfortable seat. It is easy to adjust your legs and to make micro rotations of the wheel allowing to you stretch at your own pace.
It also comes with a stop latch, that lets you lock a specific stretch position, which lets your body adapt to the stress.
Despite all the good features, we have a few gripes with it.
Leg stretchers are designed to stretch the adductors. But this seems to put a little more pressure on the hip flexors. While that’s not necessarily bad, it means that it might take slightly more time to see results with this.
You’ll have to spend some time doing other stretches, like the hamstrings and hip flexors so that your adductors get the stretch, that’s so vital to increase flexibility.
Overall, this is a great buy if you aren’t too keen to spend a lot on leg stretcher machines, and are willing to put in the work other than just sitting and cranking the wheel.
You can check it out on amazon by clicking here.
- Cushioned feet
- Padded ankle strap
- Backrest that folds flat
- Gear-based mechanism
- Steering wheel for easy control
- Casters under each leg for smooth movement
TMAS Pro Leg Stretcher Review
Our next pick is the TMAS Pro Leg Stretcher Kit, that at first glance looks like a mirror copy of the CA-27 from Valor Fitness.
There’s one major difference though. The backrest on the TMAS folds fully flat. This means that you can lie down flat while stretching the legs.
This is one of the most desired features sought by people above the age of 45 who consider these machines to improve flexibility. Lying down flat helps them negate any potential back problems, while stretching the hip flexor.
Other than this stand out feature, the TMAS also comes with a padded ankle strap that you can wear to prevent the metal from chaffing the skin around the ankle. Many leg stretcher machines cause this problem and most users just wrap some Styrofoam or a thick cloth around their ankles as a workaround.
No such problems with this one.
It is a gear-based, steering wheel driven leg stretcher that is very easy to use. While it does not let you measure the degrees to which it stretches the legs, you have total control over the extent to which you wish to stretch them.
The gear mechanism is smooth and there are casters under each leg to prevent any jerks and jitters when you stretch.
If you prefer a back rest that folds flat, then the TMAS is one of the handful that fits the bill.
You can check it out on amazon by clicking here.
4. Century VersaFlex – Most Popular Leg Stretcher Machine
- Easy to assemble
- Four position stretching arm
- Thickly padded leg rests
- Pull to stretch the legs outwards
- Adjustable thigh pad angle
- Comfortable usage for longer duration
Century Versaflex Leg Stretcher Review
The Century Versaflex is a great leg stretcher machine that’s aimed at rank newbies trying to achieve the maximum flexibility in the shortest span of time.
It features an identical design to the other machines in this list, except for the handle.
Rather than rotating the wheel, it comes with a handle that you pull to stretch the leg rests outwards. That’s a little cumbersome for us.
But hey, it’s subjective. There are some people who like this design over the steering wheel.
To take the guesswork out of it, there’s a degree chart that shows you the progress of your stretches. This makes it easier to stick to a schedule and use progressive increments to achieve your goal of the full 180-degree.
By the way, this is one of the only machines that stretches to 190-degrees (overstretch).
If you are a budding gymnast or martial artist or looking to improve your flexibility in parkour, this should be on your wishlist.
There’s ample padding on the back rests and the leg rests for comfortable everyday use.
We also like that you can adjust the angle of the thigh pads during the stretch.
This is a very underrated feature, especially for tall and heavy users who often find that the thigh pad can get a tad uncomfortable, especially if you use this for more than 10-15 minutes at a time.
Overall, it’s a great choice.
If it were not for the stretching arm in place of the steering wheel, this would have been one of our favorite leg stretcher machines.
You can check it out on amazon by clicking here.
5. Century Foldable Leg Stretcher – Best Portable Machine for On-the-Go use
- Basic, portable design
- No Assembly needed
- Foldable after use
- Cushioned seat
- Gently tug on the rope to stretch the leg rests outwards
- Can be locked and released easily
- Incremental stretching
Century Portable Leg Stretcher Review
The Century Leg Stretcher is a barebones leg stretcher machine that uses a pulley system and has a pole-style design.
If you hate assembling, or if you are short on space and are looking for a machine that you can tuck under the bed after use, this is one of your best bets.
It is also great for athletes who travel a lot and would like to carry one of these with them. It is easy to put together and can be dismantled and tucked into a bag.
The design is as simple as it can get. There are two poles with a cushioned seat and two leg rests into which you place your thighs. There’s a third pole in the middle, right in front of you, connected to a pulley system. You sit on the seat and pull gently on the rope to stretch your legs outwards.
When you feel the pinch in the leg muscles, you can gently lock the leg rests into place by tugging on the rope. It does this with a very audible click. There’s a button on the pulley to release the lock and gently remove your legs when you are done.
The only possible quibble that someone might have with it is because there’s no back rest.
The workaround is to use it with a wall behind you. Easy!
It is also cheaper as compared to the gear-styled leg stretchers that we’ve listed earlier.
You can check it out on amazon by clicking here.
6. Valor Fitness CA Leg Stretch Machine
- Heavy stainless steel frame
- High-density, dual-padded cushion on the backrest
- Steering wheel and gear driven mechanism
- Independent caster wheels under each leg rest
- Angle-adjustable back rest
- 20-rotations for the full 180-degrees
Valor Fitness Leg Stretcher Review
The CA-27 is a commercial-grade unit from Valor Fitness.
It is a gear-driven leg stretcher that features independent caster wheels under each leg rest, to allow smooth movement as you gradually increase the degree.
It comes almost pre-assembled. You just have to attach a couple of screws by hand it will be ready to use.
The gears can be a little rigid out of the box. Thankfully, a pouch of grease is included in the pack.
You can just use some WD-40 to make it smooth like butter again.
1/4th of a turn of the steering wheel typically stretches your legs by 1-2 degrees. That’s a rough number to go by. So it should take you around 20 full rotations to reach 180-degrees.
While the focus is on the adductors, this will also stretch your hip flexor muscles, which is pretty much the only way in which you can get the flexibility to go full-splits.
The build quality is phenomenal. It is made of heavy duty steel tubing. The cushion on the back rest and the thigh rest is a high-density, dual-padded one which keeps your leg muscles well protected during the stretches.
The leg rests can be adjusted to two positions on the legs, depending on how tall you are. So this should work for you irrespective of your height.
Also, this is one of the only machines that comes with an adjustable back rest that can be angled to 110-degrees and 105-degrees depending on your comfort.
7. Popsport Leg Stretcher
- Solid steel construction
- Decent padding on the back rest and leg rests.
- Easy to use
- Comes almost assembled
- Cheapest option currently
PopSport Leg Stretcher Review
If you are looking for a basic leg stretcher to supplement your primary stretching work, without spending too much cash, then you’ll like this one from Popsport Leg Stretcher.
It is rated for 330 lbs., which is more than what you typically get from leg stretchers. It is constructed from a heavy steel frame. But it weighs just 35 lbs. So it’s not the most stable one out there.
If the surface is slightly uneven, this might wobble a tad which isn’t a comfortable position to be in when your legs are outstretched.
Otherwise, it is quite easy to use. The padding on the backrests and the leg rests is sufficient and you can lean back on the backrest once you have stretched enough.
It does not come with a stop latch. So you’ll have to hold the wheel in place to lock in at a position.
Talking about the steering wheel, it is a little tight out of the box. But some grease ought to set that right.
One rotation suffices to give you a decent amount of stretch and the pressure is primarily on the adductors.
Also, if you are taller than 6’2, then this might be a little uncomfortable for you. We recommend that you opt for the #1 pick in this list instead.
Like we said, this will suffice to give you the 180-degree split that you seek. But this alone won’t do it for you. You will have to spend some time with stretching your hamstrings, glutes and inner thighs for this to work.
Buyng a Leg Stretcher Machne?
Here's What to Look For
The number of people using leg stretcher machines has increased greatly in the past few years, thanks to the resurgence of Martial arts, as well as the desire to stay functional and mobile.
Despite this, most people seem to be unaware of what features to look for while selecting one of these machines.
Here’s some help.
Type of Leg Stretcher Machine
There are two types of leg stretcher machines that are available. One is a gear-based machine that has a padded seat, backrest and leg rests with a steering wheel in the middle, that must be rotated to stretch your legs outwards. This one is easier to use as well as less likely to fail under constant stress. You can rotate the steering wheel as much as you want and easily make progressive increments to stretch at your own pace. These are not really portable though. The pole-styled leg stretcher machine is a better choice if you seek portability. These aren’t as comfortable to use as the other one though.
Where do you intend to use it? on-the-go or at home?
Are you looking for a machine that you’ll primarily use at home in your home gym? Or are you looking for one that can be carried with you to say, fitness class or to your martial arts training class? If it’s mainly for home use, go for the gear-based design. It will be a tad bulkier than the pole-styled one. But it will be a lot more comfortable. On the other hand, if you are looking for something that can be folded and tucked into your gym bag, go for the pole-styled one.
Related: Our Tytax Home Gym Review
Without sounding clichéd, in the fitness equipment market, you usually get what you pay for. So if you cut corners and buy a cheap leg stretcher machine, there will be tradeoffs in the quality, the durability and even the muscles that it engages. While leg stretchers are supposed to stretch the adductor muscles, a lot of them place the emphasis on the hip-flexors, which can be very painful. Unless you are shopping with a very low budget, we recommend that you don’t select one based on the price.
How To Use a Leg Stretcher Machine
When you have found the best leg spreader machine that you want to buy it is important that you know how to use it. These machines are pretty simple to use but sometimes they can be a bit confusing for a beginner.
Here I will go over just how to use your new machine so that you can get started as soon as you buy yours.
Sit down and get positioned on the machine and make sure you are comfortable with your seating position.
If you are not, adjust the set angle so that you are more comfortable on the machine
Make sure your legs are out straight then grab onto the stretcher machine’s turning wheel and turn the wheel clockwise slowly allowing it to push against your legs and spread them outwards.
When you reach the desired angle that you want to stretch to you can slowly turn the wheel back and slowly angle inwards.
*Note – Some machines will allow you to take the spreading wheel off so that you can stretch forward with your legs out at the angle you want them at.
Which muscles does the leg stretcher machine work?
While the splits can seem like a simple move that only engages the muscles of the groin, that is hardly the case.
To perform the splits, you need to have extremely flexible hamstrings, hip-flexors, iliopsoas muscle, glutes, your core and all three adductor muscles of the thigh.
The leg stretcher focusses primarily on the three adductor muscles. But depending on your flexibility and your physical fitness, it may also engage the hip flexor.
To fasten your results, it is highly recommended that you follow a complete stretching routine that warms up all the muscles of your legs before you use the machine.
Also, it is important to use progressive increments when you stretch and hold it in the maximum stretched position for at least 10-15 minutes.
Top leg stretcher machine brands to be on the lookout for
Leg stretcher machines are dime-a-dozen. But there are only a handful of brands that have been around for years, are backed by proven performance and positive customer reviews.
Here they are.
TMAS is one of the oldest brands that’s been selling leg stretcher machines for close to a decade. The fact that they are still around and ticking is testimony enough to their quality. The TMAS leg stretcher machine is the only one that we could find that comes with a backrest that folds flat. Also, our #1 pick is a TMAS.
Century is another martial arts brand that has become quite popular off late since the UFC went mainstream. Their products, in specific their punching bags like the Wavemaster XXL training bag are known for their great quality and durability at pocket-friendly prices. We are sure that you’ll love the Versaflex leg stretcher.
Valor Fitness is one of the top rated fitness equipment brands in the business. It has an ensemble range of products including foam rollers, home gyms, bars and exercise machines. The CA-27 is a commercial-grade leg stretcher machine commonly used by fitness centers and martial arts schools. Hard to go wrong with it.
ProForce is one of the biggest names in martial arts gear space and their products are used by professional MMA fighters. Their MMA gloves in specific are some of the best to ever enter the market. It’s no wonder then that they feature on this list of the best leg stretcher machines. If you are looking for a reliable brand, ProForce is one of the best ones.
The complete leg stretcher machine FAQ
Despite all the positive anecdotal experiences and customer reviews, some people are still skeptical about using leg stretchers machines.
If you are one of them, then maybe this brief FAQ will help clear some doubts.
Are leg stretcher machines really helpful?
You bet, they are. While it may look like the sole purpose of a leg stretcher machine is to help you do the 180-degree split, that’s not the case. It is also very useful in helping improve flexibility and posture. It is one of the best ways to stretch the hip flexor and the adductors, both very important muscles in posture and mobility. And if you are looking for bragging rights by doing the full center split, it will help you stick to a regular, incremental stretching routine that will speed up your results.
Are the machines easy to use?
Both types of leg stretcher machines are pretty easy to use. You just have to sit and rotate the wheels in one. In the other, you just tug on a rope or pull on an arm and it does the rest. If ease of use is a determining factor, we would recommend a steering-wheel and gear driven machine with a thickly padded back rest and seat.
How long will it take to do the full split with these machines?
That depends on a lot of factors starting with your current flexibility, the amount of time you stretch every day and how consistent you are with it. If you stick to a dedicated stretching routine slowly increasing the amount you stretch, you should be able to get pretty close to the full splits in about two to three months. You have to ensure that you don’t overdo it, lest you want to risk a groin muscle tear. That will put you out of action for months. So take your time.
Bottom line – My recommendations
That’s it fellow martial artists. That sums up the list of the best leg stretcher machines.
If you are shopping on a limited budget, go for the Popsport Stretcher. But be aware that you’ll have to live with a few tradeoffs.