Q: What is the best machine movement for an older lifter?
As with any lifter, I have my favorite equipment that I keep coming back to. But instead of taking the risk of opting for a device that's in or out of your gym, I'll easily turn your original question into "What's the best category for machine movement?" To change.
And the answer is, many older lifters can make better use of all machine-based leg and quad exercises such as leg presses, squats and even Smith squats.
Here is the reason: Many lifters and especially older lifters. Difficulty in safely training quads with squat variations due to their various orthopedic and / or mobility deficits. I myself fall into this category. After a few major knee surgeries in the 1
Well, on my squat technique, nothing is fundamentally unsafe or unsafe. I have a neutral lumbar spine and my knees point directly over my feet. But if you lean forward as far as I do, it's usually a rear chain motion. So I keep squatting for my back chain, but I also use plenty of leg presses, squats, smith squats, and similar exercises, because these exercises allow a much stronger recruitment of fours.
But these machines are also very useful for people who for some reason can not keep a neutral back in the squat. If you are one of these people, you will find the leg press and other variations will allow you to stabilize your spine while training quads. And there's nothing wrong with that.
To be perfectly clear, that does not mean I'm giving you permission to become one of the lifters that charge the leg press (or other machine) like a garbage truck, chases a maximum of 1-3 reps, and move it at most a few centimeters. This type of ego-lifting will not help anyone, no matter where, and if you succumb to that, present a hoist injury waiting to be passed repeating plans, like a hard set of at least 10. So I program them in my bodybuilding .com All-Body Strong All Access program and you will get the most out of it.
Do not forget the mobility!
Early in my Answer to this Question I said that many older lifters "have difficulties getting their quad squats safe with squat variations due to various orthopedic and / or mobile deficiencies". If I recommend machines for these lifters, that does not mean that you should ignore orthopedic problems or mobility problems!
If your squat is annoying because of limited ankle dorsiflexion, you should definitely work to increase your ankle mobility. If you can not maintain a neutral lumbar spine, I urge you to do all the work necessary to solve this problem. If you just have painful knees, hips or back pain, you should investigate how you can treat them. John Rusin's articles are a good start.
Many people consider machine movements as inferior – and I was one of them – probably because lifters often use them as an unnecessary "shortcut" to lift heavier than they could with free weights. Of course, machines are a bad idea if you use them improperly, but that does not mean that they are not worthwhile if they are used intelligently. So do not miss the forest for the trees. Improve your weaknesses, do what you can and train hard with what you have.