These are the machines that you can find in the gym to work your legs
In the gym there are two ways to work mainly: one is through free weights , which includes bars, dumbbells, disks, kettlebells or sandbags . This option has the component of instability that can generate a free weight and, sometimes, makes people look for another, more “safe” alternative.
The other way of working is through the use of machines , which allow a much more controlled movement in terms of preventing a weight from falling on us, but which instead have a more guided and rigid movement pattern (which does not it means that it is necessarily a bad thing, since they are usually used especially in the rehabilitation of certain injuries ).
Sometimes, we can observe in the gym (if we are regulars) the same people, the same days and always doing the same exercises: chest, biceps, back, shoulder, triceps and back to start. And if at all, some sporadic day, they do some isolated leg exercise . These people are making a serious mistake, and that is neglecting leg training .
With this, I do not mean that you have to train leg in such a way that you get out of the gym . I simply emphasize that our legs are our basic and main support and the engine that takes us from one place to another , so we need to work and exercise them correctly.
Also, think about the following: when we get older there comes an age when people have a hard time getting up from the couch or the chair, and this is due to lack of strength in the lower train (hence the importance of the strength training even in the third age). For all this, spend the necessary time to train your lower train , because tomorrow you will appreciate it.
From the outset, we should point out that there are two press machines with different legs (although their function is the same, but the weight distribution is different):
- On the one hand we have the plate leg press , which has a series of iron plates (usually are graduated from five to five kilos and can reach a maximum weight of about one hundred kilos) that are usually located on the side of the machine, so that the “push” system is activated by pulleys and lever. This press is usually horizontal , that is, we sit down and push the base where we place our feet forward to drive the pulleys and move the plates.
- On the other side we have the disc leg press , which is usually more vertical ( it is not completely vertical, but rather an inclined press ). The way to place the discs is through three “projections” that the machine presents: two are usually located on both sides of the base on which we place our feet while the third is on the base.In this way, we have two lateral points of weight and a central point (although we can find that only has two lateral points). We can regulate this press depending on the discs that we place , so it can give us a better margin of adjustment in terms of the loads to be moved.
As for the negative points, from my point of view we must be careful with the inclined leg press, because if we put too much weight, we could cause excessive compression in our lumbar vertebrae , because the position in which we will be placed will be where most of the weight falls. Despite this, leg press machines are an excellent alternative to leg work with free weights.
The quadriceps extension machine is, possibly, one of the best options when working our quadriceps and correct decompensation between one leg and another, since we will always have one side more developed than the other, so we can perform Unilateral compensation work will come in handy. In addition, this machine is widely used in the rehabilitation of certain lower-body injuries as a method to gain strength again in our legs.
The mechanics of this machine is very simple: sitting on it, we must place our legs between the cushions of the machine so that our knee is aligned with a point that usually placed on the machine to know if we are well placed or not. Once in position, it is simple: perform a knee extension, without blocking the joint at the end point and return to the initial position.
Femoral curl or hamstring machine
The femoral curl machine or hamstring machine is designed to work the great forgotten of our lower train: the femoral . People, especially boys, tend to train what you see most, so we usually focus all our attention on quadriceps, squats and quadriceps extensions . And yet we forget the femoral or ischiosural musculature.
We can find two types of hamstring machines: sitting or lying down.
- In the seated hamstring machine , the mechanism is exactly the same as the quadriceps extension machine but instead of starting in a kneeling position on the cushions, we will start with the legs stretched out and we will first have to perform knee flexion, g enerando All the strength with our femorals .
- The other option is the hamstring machine lying down , in which the starting position will be completely lying down with the legs stretched out and the feet placed on the cushions of the machine to perform the knee flexion. In my opinion, and after testing both types of machines, I have noticed more load in the lower back in the hamstring machine than sitting down , but it is my particular case. You can try the one that you want since both perform the same exercise.
The main muscle that we will work with if we use the abductor machine is the gluteus maximus, although, as our colleague Gabriela says in her article , ” if the backrest is sufficiently inclined, the effort will focus more on the gluteus medius ” .
We must be careful and pay attention to the correct technique in this exercise since it is very easy to make mistakes and, with that, injure ourselves:
- Back position : we insist on adopting a correct posture for the safety of our back mainly and, of course, to perform the exercise correctly. In this exercise, given that we have a back, the back should be supported at all times on it, because the moment we lean forward we will be generating unnecessary tension between our vertebrae and all the muscles of the back.
- The cadence of movement must be controlled at all times by us . We should not make a sudden abduction movement or let the weight close our legs at once, because it could cause some injury. Not to put more weight we will achieve better results, and at this point it should be noted that one of the main victims if we incur in sudden movements could be the fascia lata.
And of course we must learn to stretch this muscle correctly as a work after the one performed in our routine.
If we previously talked about the abductor machine, it is time to do it on your antagonist, that is, the adductor machine (inner side of the thigh) . This machine shares a peculiarity with the machine of abductors: 90% of those who use them are women (it would be interesting some study or survey among male users about why they do not approach these machines).
The objective of this machine is to work and strengthen the muscles of the inner side of our thighs ( adductor medius, adductor magnus, iliac psoas and internal rectus as main muscles are those that will intervene in this exercise.
A big mistake that people usually make (I include myself among them because I also did it) is to work on this machine and on that of abductors with medium-high loads at low repetitions. Both the abductors and the adductors are muscles that respond better to stimuli of low weight and high repetitions (series for example of 20-25 repetitions with little weight), since they are muscles that are easily overloaded and can generate injuries difficult to recover as the adductor tendinitis or groin injury .
In addition, another typical error is the same as we mentioned earlier for the abductor machine: do not control the movement and either make sudden and explosive movements, or let the weight open our legs suddenly, which could cause painful injury.
And we come to another of the forgotten muscles of our lower train: the twins . If in general terms we have commented that people usually make the mistake of not training the lower train as it should be beyond an isolated session, if we focus on the lower train itself, the twins are one of the muscles most forgotten by users. of gym.
We can find two types of machines to work the twins:
- Sitting twins machine: this machine consists in working the twins through a series of levers. We will sit on it in such a way that the pads of the same are just on our knees and feet resting on the base. In this machine, the weight is placed on the sides of each lever (one on each leg) by adding discs and the movement we must perform is similar to getting on tiptoe .
- Standing twins machine : normally we will find it with the weight in the form of iron plates, although you can still see some twin machine in which the weight is regulated by adding more or fewer discs. The mechanics are the same as in the sitting machine: try to stand on tiptoe .However, here we must pay attention to one aspect: when returning to the initial position, we must ensure that our heels do not fall below the horizontal of the base where we have supported the feet , as this could cause a hyperextension of the Achilles tendon and eventually lead to a painful injury (and slow to recover).
Bonus track: the assisted chinning machine
Use the chin-up machine to work leg? Yes, you can do it , although evidently it is not its main function. How? Easy:
First of all, we will have to take off one of our feet, since we will support it on the basis of the chinning machine (yes, you can do it without taking off your shoes, but yours is to take care of the facilities as much as possible). In these moments we are standing, with one of our feet on the base of the machine and the other supported on the pedestal of it in a similar way to if we were to make a climb to a step or drawer .
With the selected weight, the movement that we must make is simple: push with the leg that we have on the base of the machine downwards . In this way we will work the strength of our lower train, especially the whole musculature of the gluteal area.