Force USA Leg Press-Hack Squat Combo Rack Review
A force to be reckoned with for sure. The Monster Ultimate 45 Degree Leg Press Hack Squat Combo is a cornerstone unit for any commercial gym, and even serious home fitness enthusiasts with room in the garage. Designed to either replace, or significantly supplement the barbell squat, the Force USA unit features an adjustable seat with back support against which the user lies while pressing upwards at 45 degrees a weighted sled. But what makes these units so popular in the gym is their versatility, as the seat can be quickly switched out so as to allow for a hack squat, with the user’s shoulders drive upward into padded thrusting guards. Whether used as a traditional leg press, hack squat, forward thrust or calf raise, this unit can isolate the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves while also offering compound exercise options.
For many goers of gyms, Force USA’s Monster Ultimate 45 Degree Leg Press Hack Squat Combo would be instantly recognized as a “leg press” or “hip sled.” But it’s considerably more than that. A four-in-one machine, it not only serves as a leg press, but a calf raise, a hack squat, and forward thrust. If money and space were no object, this unit would be in every garage and home where lifters live to lift. Frankly, many senior citizens seeking rehabilitation of knees or hips would also benefit from the ergonomic design. But, the laws of physics and finance must be considered. At 66 inches wide, the machine is 94 inches deep and stands 60 inches in height. This is great news for users up to 7 feet tall. But it’s something to consider when placing it in a gym. The empty unit itself weighs 463 pounds, which is again something to consider when placing it as moving it around won’t be as simple as a utility bench.
The sled’s steel foot plate is a solid 26 inches long by 22 inches wide, meaning lifters with small of large feet will be good to go. The machine’s 2×4-inch steel mainframe is constructed of 13-gauge steel, a definite necessity considering the 1,000 pound weight rating. For those unfamiliar with this type of machine, safety is a huge benefit when compared to the barbell squat. As one reclines back in the seat and places their feet onto the sled’s plate, they’ll notice they have to press it completely up so as to “unlock” the sled. The unlocking is performed by releasing with the hands two safety handles, one on either side. This release allows the sled to slide completely down toward the seat, from whence it is pressed upwards again. But, what happens if it crashes down onto the lifter, one might ask? Fear not, the machine is equipped with five safety lockout positions which the lifter can manually bring into action with the safety handles.
As an added bonus, the machine includes four plate storage horns as well as additional plate holders beneath the sled in case the lifter wants extra ballast when using upwards of 1,000 pounds on the sled.
Working out with the Monster
For those unaccustomed to the drills involved, a leg press is quite simple with this machine, as the user sits down and lies back at a 45-degree angle, then pushes upward the sled with either the feet or shoulders, depending on the exercise. In this same position the user can easily switch to the calf raise by flexing their ankles against the foot plate at top, or down against the ground if performing a hack squat or forward thrust. The hack squat and forward thrust exercises require a quick switching of the parts with the back rest and foot plate slipping off and allowing access to the shoulder pads. For the hack squat, the user will reverse face in standing position, leaning their back into the thrust pads behind the foot plate, and drive from the ground upward at a 45-degree angle. The forward thrust is simply the hack squat reversed, where the user faces the machine and rests the pads on their shoulders, driving up as if a football player blocking.
The biggest beneficiaries of this machine are those uncomfortable squatting with barbells, and/or those who have maxed out the weight stacks on other leg machines such as the extension or curl. Free weight purists can argue to the iron their preference for barbell-only lifts, and claim that Front Squats, Overhead Squats and Olympic Squats hit all muscles perfectly, but even the hard-cores have to admit that form and spotters are critical. Meanwhile, there stands the plate-loaded machine. And one big plug for the Force USA model is that as a plate-loaded unit, lifters aren’t limited to the load set in weight-stack units. Many a frustrated lifter has maxed out on stack units, and considering that the legs are among the strongest muscles of the body, it’s not difficult to reach that point quickly. But the extra sturdy design of the Force USA plate-loaded model allows for up to 1,000 pounds placed onto the sled. And whether pressing or thrusting, that’s a sufficient weight max to satisfy even college and professional athletes. Or, for the elderly lifter and anyone else wishing to use lighter loads, the empty sled itself provides resistance.
As a general rule, the hack squat targets the hamstrings like the leg press emphasizes the quadriceps. Technically, the entire leg is vigorously worked in any of the exercises involved, but if hypertrophy is what the lifter is after, then this machine readily lends itself to the performance of negatives and drop-sets for an extra burn.
Price-wise, the sticker seems darn reasonable when considering that this could easily replace a squat rack, leg extension, leg curl and calf raise machines. For a large commercial gym this machine seems a must, and even home fitness enthusiasts could easily justify the cost when considering the overall quality and multiplicity of uses.
Force USA - Monster Ultimate 45 Degree Leg Press Hack Squat Combo