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I recently tried to squat using the squat calf machine and I found it very practical and efficient for when you are training alone without a spotter.

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I have few questions:

  • What are the main differences between the "squat calf machine" and "free weights squats"?
  • Which creates less "probability" for knee injury while squatting?

On a side note, does the Inclination of the feet stand in the "squat calf machine" serve for sthg? or is it just a matter of shape/design?

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Please see this question, as well as this one, this answer, and this question too. – Dave Liepmann Apr 24 '12 at 20:24
In order for this question to be really useful, I recommend narrowing it down to one question instead of four. The first two questions are well answered in the links I provided. The third and fourth questions should be separated for best results, I think. – Dave Liepmann Apr 24 '12 at 20:26
@DaveLiepmann i checked your links, the thing is the "squat calf machine" is the closest thing to free weight standing squats. While, the other links about machine are closer to leg press than squats. That's why i am trying to see what are the differences. I will remove the second point, because i think it is vague. – shadesco Apr 24 '12 at 20:30
Another question: why would you need a spotter when squatting? A squat rack obviates that need. (I don't trust squat spots anyway.) – Dave Liepmann Apr 24 '12 at 20:32
That's a good edit, but we still have three questions. :) – Dave Liepmann Apr 24 '12 at 20:33
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Probability of injury

There is a very low probability of knee injury while squatting if you keep your knees tracking parallel to your feet, and descend to a depth that places the top of your thighs slightly lower than parallel to the ground. The same is true for leg presses (and I will assume also for the machine you're asking about).

Two references that demonstrate the lack of ACL force during a squat or leg press are listed in this answer.

Differences between your machine and a barbell squat

With a machine, the path of the weight is defined by the mechanics of the machine. You are not responsible for controlling the path the weight takes, only for pushing the weight along that path. This makes the machine exercise an easier exercise than the barbell lift. It is also less functional. You will need to use your back and abs more when you do the lift with a barbell.

The path that the machine defines may not be optimal for your particular limb dimensions. When you lift a barbell, you can move it in a way that is optimal for you. (For a squat, this means keeping the bar directly over your midfoot, you'll be sitting back, with your knees not extending too far past your toes.) When you let the machine define the path, that path may vary from the optimal path for your body.

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