As you become older and you still want to properly strength train your legs, it can be difficult finding weighted exercises that don’t hurt either your hips, knees, back, or ankles. Once I entered my mid-30s, I realized I just could not go heavy anymore with squats without feeling injured afterward. For some reason, my right ankle would often swell up and my lower back would hurt if I went above 225 pounds on squats. Plus, even my shoulders were suffering from the weight sitting upon them and grinding away.
But what is the possible alternative? Wear pants in the summer to cover up my chicken legs? Go swimming at the pool in my jeans? Many of you are probably currently in the same boat. You just can’t stop training legs. We need those strong wheels as we age. Whether you are a man or woman, strong legs will carry you well into old age as long as you don’t overdo it. Ronnie Coleman, one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time that would often go way too heavy on legs, has been paying the price for years from having done heavy squats in the past.
This is why you should consider an alternative to squats that will still give your legs the ultimate workout.
The Vertical Leg Press
You may not have ever heard of the vertical leg press just because most gyms do not have one of these. They will have ten different leg machines that are all very similar, but for some odd reason, they don’t carry the vertical leg press. It really is a crime against humanity. Or at least a crime against those that want muscular legs without having to risk injury.
Once in a while, you will see someone trying to use the Smith Machine in a similar fashion to the vertical leg press but in a very dangerous way. They climb underneath and put their feet up on the slippery bar as they try their best to push the weight up with their legs. I usually stop and watch when someone is trying this maneuver. I would say fifty percent of the time the weight comes crashing down and smashes into the guards if they have them set properly on the side. It is always good for a quick laugh, but I also always ask them if they are okay, too. What we don’t do to get bigger legs!
How Is There Less of a Chance of Injury with the Vertical Leg Press?
The vertical leg press fully supports your back and neck while letting your legs bend nice and deep. The guards on the side will only let the weight come down so far, so you will not have to worry about it crashing down on you. Unlike when you go heavy on squats and you need a spotter to keep you from injuring yourself, you can use a vertical leg press without any assistance at all. Your legs will continue to grow without the need to risk a severe back injury. Your spine will thank you!
What About Those Other Leg Press Machines?
Every gym seems to have about four or five various leg press machines (sometimes called sleds) mixed in with the rest of their gym equipment. I’m not saying to discount the value of these machines, but they are not as good as you may believe.
Most of these leg presses are either at a 45-degree angle or even a 90-degree angle. What does this mean to someone using them? It means you are only lifting part of the weight as you use these sleds. This is why men can load up these machines with all the 45-pound plates in the gym (drives me crazy) and shout out to anyone that is listening that they are doing a thousand-pound leg press. In reality, they are not even close to lifting a thousand pounds with their legs.
On the other hand, if you are doing 300 pounds on the vertical leg press, you are doing all the weight as you drive the plates up and down.
I Have the Powerline Vertical Leg Press by Body-Solid
When putting together my ultimate home gym, I included a squat rack just because I could do other things with it. But I purchased the Powerline Vertical Leg Press for the sole purpose of still being able to train legs safely with a good amount of weight. In fact, the weight limit for this vertical leg press is said to be 400 pounds by the manufacturer. I have had about 350 pounds on it and felt completely safe using it.
It is built with quality in mind and is completely solid. The top of the machine has been made for standard weights (those weight plates with a smaller one-inch hole in them). Usually you can find these weights rather cheaply as people are always looking to get rid of them. If you would rather use Olympic weights on the vertical leg press instead, you just need a sleeve to place over top to equal the two-inch hole diameter on these plates.
Perfect Addition to Your Home Gym
Even if you tend to like to train at the local fitness center, the Powerline Vertical Leg Press is only about $300. You could do a complete leg workout at home by making these the main staple of it and then do all of your other workouts at the gym.
But if you are like me and as you get older, you realize you don’t always have the time to go to the gym, this could be one of your first pieces for your home gym. Along with a bench, dumbbells, and some sort of cardio machine, you could still make gains training at home.
I would give the Powerline Vertical Leg Press a solid four out of four stars. Allowing me to train legs with a good amount of weight and not worry about becoming injured makes this one of my favorites. If squats are making you ache for all the wrong reasons, especially as you climb deeper into your 30s and 40s, this vertical leg press will be exactly what the doctor ordered.