Powertec compact leg sled review and photos by Jim C.
I found this on craigslist a few days ago and had some interest on how this thing works and feels. Powertec still sells it now at $600 with a 700lb capacity. I got mine along with a Body Solid seated calf raise for $300. I got the older model leg sled which I believe has a 600lb capacity.
I did legs last night for the first time in weeks, been nursing a herniated/bulging disk which has been causing sciatic pain shooting all the way down to my ankle. With some stretching it's subsided enough to resume workouts at an easy pace.
Last night I started with some light barbell squats, 3 sets of 12 at 225 to somewhat pre-exhaust my quads, then I went to leg presses. First set was 100 and 2 45s on each side so 380lbs total for an easy set of 15. Felt very smooth. Heard some complaints about feeling like you were going to be shot out of the seat at the bottom of the movement but that was not the case at all. Of course this was very light and felt about what almost 400lbs would on a 45 degree leg press.
I added 2 more 45s to each side which maxed out the space on the poles for a total of 560lb. Here it started to bind a little in the middle of the movement (maybe some silicone spray on the guide poles would help) and did 2 sets of 12. Felt good, smooth at the top and bottom but like I said just binds or sticks a bit in the middle so the weight felt heavier if this makes sense.
I had no more room on the poles, should have taken a pic. I can see fitting 3 hundred pound plates on a side to get the 600lb. I'm guessing the newer model has longer poles for holding the weights. All in all it felt good and I am happy with it as is.
Someone asked about doing hack squats with this and I'll admit I never gave that option any consideration, I was only purchasing to do leg presses and toe presses for calves. After looking it over I declined the seat back as far as it would go.
I did just 100lb per side and did what amounted to a very realistic feeling hack squat. It's just weird not having the pads over your shoulders (surprising that Powertec didn't make an add on for this, doesn't appear that it would be that difficult). From this position the only thing holding you into the machine are you holding on to the grips at arms length by your hips. I'll admit I was worried about this because my grip strength is nil. But it didn't at all bother me and I hit an easy set of 15 reps. I added another 45 per side and again my grip didn't bother me and hit 2 sets of 12 reps. I didn't feel like tempting my luck and adding any more weight at this point.
After hitting hamstrings, I did 3 sets of 20 toes presses with the seat sat back to where I was doing leg presses with a 100 and a 45 on each side.
This felt very good. I actually liked it better than doing toes presses on a 45 degree leg press. I always had this fear in the back of my head that my toes would slip off the platform while doing toe presses but I don't even consider it on this machine.
I bought it used so I have no idea how easy or hard setup is on this. PowerTec in general is pretty easy to set up. The seat goes at least one more notch forward than what I had it set for leg presses and the foot plate also adjusts up and down. Aside from the binding at its topped out weight it was very smooth. I've heard that the newer models don't use the plastic bushings that this one uses for the rollers and guide rails so it may be smoother yet. Also the extra 100lb capacity would help.
Bottom line I haven't done a leg press in almost 2 years and topped out the machine without much problem, but in my day (15 - 20 years ago) I could hit 1300lb for a set of 5 on the 45 degree leg press and hit 600lbs for a set of 40. I don't think someone who can currently leg press 1000lb plus will be really happy with this unless he's really going to pre-ex his quads and/or expect to do much higher reps.
I was quite surprised with the ability to do hack squats on this, so that was a major added bonus. I'm happy with the machine and will keep it. The footprint is very small and it is sturdy. The brake is easy to engage and you disengage it my simply standing upright. I'm 6' and could almost start in the upright position so unlike the leverage squat machine by Powertec you don't have to start at the bottom of the movement. I actually think there's one more spot up higher than what I use. The range of motion if pretty full on this but I've never been one to allow my hips off the pad at the bottom of a leg press and let my knees get back into my armpits like a prom date in the backseat of a car.
I'm unsure if I'd spend the money new on one but if you find one for under $300 used it's worth a look at.
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