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Leg press and hack squat machines

Old 02-05-23, 01:09 PM
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Leg press and hack squat machines

Pre-Covid at the gym, I would do a lot of barbell deadlifts and squats. My heaviest squat was 200lb for probably 3 reps (1.5x body weight).

I remember when I miss too many days at the gym, I would get restless leg syndrome and have a hard time falling asleep until I would isolate a leg muscle and tense it all up.

Then when Covid restrictions were lifted, I felt that squats and deadlifts just weren't loading my legs enough. But I'd be afraid of loading them too heavy. Even when I'd go lighter, like around body weight, squatting 10 to 15 reps for three or four sets would be really taxing on my cardio but not my legs. I already bike to the gym so I really don't need extra cardio especially on the squat when I might fall over.

That's when I decided to get on the leg press and leg curl machines. The leg curl and one of the leg press machines are cables to lift the weight. So whatever weight you've got pinned, that's the weight you are lifting.

But on the leg presses where you have to manually load up with barbell plates, the load you press is NOT the weight you load. You are pressing at an angle while the plates you are lifting are verticle. A little trigonometry would get you the actual load you are pressing. Something like 60 to 70% plus the carriage, slider or plaform. However, depending on the manufacturer and the model, the carriage, slider or platform on a leg press or hack squat may also have a significant weight you can't ignore. One google search comes up with a starting resistance of 60lb on the hack squat -which is the load on your legs at an angle. Another gives 80lb weight- which is the vertical load.

I know it seems nit picky but I want to be able to set a benchmark on my machine exercises to be confident when I return to my barbell squats. Let's say, if I can push 200 lb for 15 reps on a hack squat, I should be confident to squat around there for up to 8 to10 reps.

The other day, I squatted deep in the hacksquat with the empty carriage. It felt heavier than squatting with an empty bar. I'll progress by adding small weights but if I go too slowly, I won't be getting the stress my legs need to avoid the restless leg syndrome. I can continue with the leg press machines but there's an inherent danger of going too deep and too heavy eventually hurting my lower back.

Does anybody else go onto so much detail?
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Old 02-05-23, 01:24 PM
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No, I don't because I'm old and don't care about the math. I work out with dumbbells for an hour or two at home 3-4 times a week between bike rides.

Re: restless leg syndrome. I have occasional issues. Couple of things help. 500mg Magnesium at bedtime and some stretches that address quads, calves, hamstrings. I run a foam roller on the quads and back. No restless legs.
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Old 02-05-23, 04:24 PM
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I would not anticipate loading a bar for free-weight squatting the same amount of any machine. There are a lot of muscles not being used when you use a machine and the longer you're away from free weights, the harder it is to restart free-weight lifting -- and of course this varies from machine-to-machine.

It takes a lot of big and little muscles working together to balance a heavy weight on your shoulders and then add movement. Also, just the pressure of the bar on the shoulders/back takes some time to get use to.

Personally, I would just start up with free weights and not worry about the weight, just slowly work your way back up.


As for the restless leg syndrome, I've heard of this before, but have no idea what it is. The only problem I have to worry about are cramps in my legs if I overdo it.



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Old 02-05-23, 08:10 PM
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What to do about strength work depends on why one is doing it. Recreational riding, maybe with groups? Long distance? Racing - - crits, road, stage, track? Touring? If you're doing it for cycling, do you focus on sprints, climbing, flats?

If it's not for cycling, then health, running, backpacking, skiing, or appearance?

There's probably a different answer for each of those.

If this is for non-racing cycling, all you really have to do is squat bodyweight, but you're already past that. For the leg press, one-leggeds are the usual prescription for cyclists, whatever their specialty. You can do whatever and it's not aerobic.

I don't find leg curl and leg extension useful for cycling, or any isolation exercise for that matter. One thing that most folks don't work enough is calves, especially high rep calves. No HR issue there. I work also them one-legged to make sure I'm symmetrical. Another thing I see frequently ignored is reps. Some folks do 100 reps on the leg sled. That's a whole new world to explore.

The whole idea of strength training is to get tired. What weight one needs to achieve that goal is totally immaterial unless one is competing.
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Old 02-06-23, 08:07 AM
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Ex power lifter here... no more squats or deadlifts in my future - ever. One bad lift can = a good long time of pain. For me it was 12 years of pain.

So, off my soapbox...

It's difficult to relate how much weight you can handle on the leg press vs squats. Squats require so many other muscles to fire, muscles that may not be ready for the load...one can be very strong on the leg press and suck at squats. I was one of those people. Very strong legs and my core strength didn't match - there was no real way to relate the two movements.
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Old 02-08-23, 08:22 PM
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I agree with Jughed about correlation, or lack there of, between movements with machines versus free weights. I would continue doing squats at whatever weight I can handle, for whatever prescribed rep range you choose. Heck, start with just the bar and go from there. I would also suggest using front squats into the mix as it targets slightly different muscle groups than the back squat. You will not be able to lift as much on the front.

I've never been a fan of the leg curl either, and other isolation movements in general, for that matter. I've read some damning things about this particular exercise as well. Doing something like a Romanian dead lift might be a better option to work the posterior chain.

With only a bar and some plates you can do so much for your lower body. Add a squat rack, and the you've got even more options.
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Old 02-10-23, 04:54 PM
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Well I went back and did barbell squats, body weight plus 5% for 3 sets of ten reps. Didn't want to wear myself out. I tried 1 rep of front squats and it felt weird pulling my wrists backwards. Surely that can't be good especially if it's loaded. And then if I crossed my arms, the bar would just cut into them. I guess my arms are still too thin.

Then my regular sitting leg curls, 3 sets of 18 to failure. And hack squats.

I had written to Technogym and asked what the weight or starting resistance of the empty carriage was. No response. Anyways I started with zero weights, then two 10lb plates, then 15 lb, then 20 for 15 reps each to get the feel of going deep.
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Old 02-11-23, 07:00 AM
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You definitely want to do lighter weights when doing the Front Squat. And it does require a great amount of flexibility in the wrists, but the body adapts, if done with slow progression. Same with the method of crossing the arms, the shoulders will toughen up over time.


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Old 02-14-23, 09:02 AM
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Front squats require a lot more shoulder and wrist flexibility, that's for sure. You're sticking your elbows straight out and resting the bar on your front deltoids. The bar should be sitting next to the base of your neck, resting on your deltoids. You should not have to expend any effort to keep it in place. The advantage of this movement is that it prevents you front learning forward when pushing the weight upwards, putting all the effort onto your glutes and quads instead of your back.
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Old 02-14-23, 09:26 AM
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I just received a response from Technogym. The weight of their hacksquat carriage is 105.8lb. So at 36degrees, your legs are pushing 62lb when it's empty.
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Old 02-14-23, 11:38 AM
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.


Is this the machine?


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Old 02-14-23, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
.


Is this the machine?


Yes. So with two 45lb plates, the load on his legs is 115lb ( not including his body).

Last edited by Daniel4; 02-14-23 at 04:12 PM.
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Old 02-21-23, 09:43 AM
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fwiw
when politics took over my gym & I switched, I had to develop new routines w/ diff. equipment
when I stopped going to the gym due to covid, I had to develop new general fitness routines
when I felt safe enough to return to the gym, I had to develop new weight training routines, to try to get back to where I thought I was
now, after a cpl years back in weight training, I feel like I have a solid base to build on
sometimes I think about going back to the first gym & trying the weight training routines on those machines & wonder how I would perform on them. but then I remember it doesn't matter, to me
for me, I'm trying to live in the present
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Old 03-03-23, 11:50 AM
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I love powerlifting almost as much as cycling. If you want a safe and fast recovery, try not to hit your max PR, but stay maybe at 80%. I find if I don't push too hard I'm able to recover a bit faster so I can go cycling the next day. Squats for me take at least a day of recovery. So I try doing squats at the end of my weekly workout routine and then take a day off the next day. Also if you try doing a max PR day, just reduce your rep range. Lastly do lots of mobility stretches and use a back roller. I've been using one for years and my back is rock solid. I clock in at around 150 lbs. and I can easily deadlift 400 lbs., almost hitting 500 lbs. if I try PR'ing.

On a side note, I'm a big believer in strength training for cyclists. I know way too many cyclists who've had minor crashes and end up going to the ER with severe injuries and broken bones. Back in January I had a bad downhill crash going almost 30mph. I hit the pavement hard, gashed my thigh and elbow. I was a bloody mess, but I didn't break any bones. I think lean muscle mass and higher bone density has been very beneficial in reducing injury and speeding up recovery.
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Old 03-03-23, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2
I love powerlifting almost as much as cycling. If you want a safe and fast recovery, try not to hit your max PR, but stay maybe at 80%. I find if I don't push too hard I'm able to recover a bit faster so I can go cycling the next day. Squats for me take at least a day of recovery. So I try doing squats at the end of my weekly workout routine and then take a day off the next day. Also if you try doing a max PR day, just reduce your rep range. Lastly do lots of mobility stretches and use a back roller. I've been using one for years and my back is rock solid. I clock in at around 150 lbs. and I can easily deadlift 400 lbs., almost hitting 500 lbs. if I try PR'ing.

On a side note, I'm a big believer in strength training for cyclists. I know way too many cyclists who've had minor crashes and end up going to the ER with severe injuries and broken bones. Back in January I had a bad downhill crash going almost 30mph. I hit the pavement hard, gashed my thigh and elbow. I was a bloody mess, but I didn't break any bones. I think lean muscle mass and higher bone density has been very beneficial in reducing injury and speeding up recovery.
By "max PR" do you mean your 1RM? Current 1RM? Lifetime 1RM? Or current or PR of your last rep max at some particular number of reps?
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Old 03-03-23, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
By "max PR" do you mean your 1RM? Current 1RM? Lifetime 1RM? Or current or PR of your last rep max at some particular number of reps?
1 prime rep and/or 1 rep max. Some days you might be feeling good and want to push a little harder. For example maybe you're doing 5 sets x 5 reps normally, maybe you could try going 5 sets x 8/6/4/2/1 reps and finish with a 1 rep max.

I also love HIIT routines and even using the stationary bike just to get some cardio during gym days. I've settled on maintaining overall fitness versus being the fastest on the bike or strongest in the gym.
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Old 03-03-23, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jonathanf2
1 prime rep and/or 1 rep max. Some days you might be feeling good and want to push a little harder. For example maybe you're doing 5 sets x 5 reps normally, maybe you could try going 5 sets x 8/6/4/2/1 reps and finish with a 1 rep max.

I also love HIIT routines and even using the stationary bike just to get some cardio during gym days. I've settled on maintaining overall fitness versus being the fastest on the bike or strongest in the gym.
Thanks. On my 10 rep days, I work up to 80% of my 1RM as you suggest. Recovery is still an issue, but not too bad.
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