In over 10 years of competitive bodybuilding, there are still two words associated with the sport that I absolutely hate. “LEG DAY” This short phrase strikes fear in the hearts of many power and strength athletes as well as bodybuilders. From squats to lunges to leg press and stiff-leg deadlifts, the exercises that are needed for complete lower half development are typically uncomfortable, strenuous and generally boring to do. However, the necessity for symmetry and balance in my sport requires it, and I just honestly don’t want to look like the guy to the left. Last Friday, I was introduced to a machine that makes the thought of leg day just a little less scary.
The gentlemen behind “The Derrick Machine” (thederrickmachine.com) were kind enough to bring one up to Buckeye Gym in Tallmadge and allow some of us to check it out. My training partner, IFBB Pro Brian Yersky, has been working with them and doing some demonstration videos. When I saw this machine, I was quite impressed. It was very well made and had a fairly small footprint for what it actually does. In a nutshell, this machine allows you to use your own body weight (minus whatever you counter balance it with) to get a perfect hamstring workout. As a chiropractor, I was pleased to see that the Derrick Machine did not place any undue stress on the spine. It actually unloaded the spine by putting you into an inversion. The concentric part of the movement is stabilized by the body pad and the inversion, minimizing any trunk flexion. Trunk flexion takes isolation off of the hamstring and allows hip flexors and other muscles to become involved in the movement. The range of motion is complete, and the potential for hamstring development is maximized! I love this machine! On a side note, using the Derrick Machine was actually fun! It took the boredom out of the workout. It was extremely easy to use after the first rep, which was all it took to get used to the motion. We had many people working out in the gym give it a try, and with a single adjustment to the counter-balanced weight, they were off and running.
My trainer used to have me do the “Glute-Ham Raise” machine, and it was very uncomfortable on my knees, and to get the trunk from flexing, put stress on my lower back. Sometimes he would tension it by having me hold a broomstick and he would pull against my movement. I HATED these. They were miserable to do, awkward and while they burnt the hamstrings, they also affected my joints. Leg curls, seated or lying are ok, but it’s tough to not use momentum. Standing single leg curls can be effective, but if you watch most people, they don’t stabilize the core well enough to keep the low back from getting some level of strain. These were not concerns at all with this machine. Check out this video below to see a demo.
So the Derrick Machine gets the “Craig Banks, DC Stamp of Approval.” I would highly recommend that gyms across the country (especially those with bodybuilders or elite athletes) get one of these machines on-site. I’m not being reimbursed. I have no financial affiliation with the machine. Honestly, it’s a selfish motivation, because I want to make sure I can use this machine when leg day happens to be at another gym!