We are quite happy with the Bodycraft F660 Hip Sled.
A few months ago, we got a new piece of equipment at the gym. It’s the Bodycraft F660 Hip Sled (Combination Leg Press and Hack Squat). It was a big purchase – possibly the heaviest and most cumbersome purchase ever for us – but so far it has far exceeded our expectations. The only complaint is that we can’t ask every one of our Skype clients to get one at home (we usually just suggest they go to a nearby commercial gym to use a leg press).
Here’s a video of me talking about how to use the leg press function of the hip sled.
We have a small studio, and we like to keep things as simple and streamlined as possible. We are very careful about acquiring new gym equipment, because we don’t want to end up with a giant piece of metal that nobody uses taking up half our floor space. We also try to focus our exercise selection those that our clients can practice and do on their own at home, so using a leg press or a hack squat hasn’t really been a top priority for us until recently.
Why did we buy this leg press / hack squat?
For a long time, we’ve focused on doing very functional lower body training: squats, lunges, step ups, bridges, hip thrusts, deadlifts, etc. These have always been staples of our personal training sessions for our clients (and for ourselves). But all these functional movements shared the same limitations for us and our clients.
For anyone who does barbell training, this may sound like blasphemy right off the bat. “Bah!” you might say. “A barbell is ALL you need to accomplish all strength gains of any kind! Bah!”
And while there are some people for whom that statement is true, it isn’t always true for all people.
We have clients who need help getting the right muscles turned on. We trainers sometimes need help getting the right muscles turned on on our own bodies! The squats, the lunges, the deadlifts, the hip thrusts, the Romanian deadlifts, etc. all helped us turn on a lot of good muscles, but there were a few muscles we just couldn’t target directly and precisely enough. The F660 leg press / hack squat has helped address those muscles.
Which muscles does the leg press / hack squat help us hit better?
In short, the glutes, high lateral hamstrings, and the quads.
The muscle group we’re constantly attempting to avoid/down regulate is the adductors. As anyone who has ever had adductor dominance can tell you, it’s very difficult to find lower body exercises where the adductors don’t start jumping in. The F660 helps us get the glutes, high lateral hamstrings, and the quads ON without the adductors flipping on too.
How does the F660 help us focus on the right muscles?
Let’s start with a detailed description of some of the issues we run into and then get into the muscles.
One of the problems we encounter most often is overactive adductors and underactive glutes/high lateral hamstrings.
“Well, why not squat, lunge, or deadlift? All those exercises use the hamstrings and glutes!”
This is what we thought for a long while, but we found that those functional movements just didn’t help balance the muscle activity on our clients’ bodies and on our own bodies. When you do a barbell squat (or any of those other exercises), your body will use the muscles it’s used to using. So if you’re really great at recruiting your adductors instead of your glutes and hammies, guess what muscles you tend to activate more when you do a functional movement. Your adductors.
To retrain that kind of recruitment imbalance, you have to try to 1) get better neurological control over the right muscles (i.e. really think HARD about recruiting the right muscles) and/or 2) build up the strength of the right muscles so they’re more likely to fire in a more balanced way in relationship to the other muscle. So in this case, we’re thinking of ways to activate the glutes and high lateral hamstrings WITHOUT firing up the adductors.
The leg press on the F660 helps us find the glutes and high lateral hamstrings without (too much of) the adductors.
In the bottom of a barbell squat, it’s tough to minimize firing your adductor magnus (you’re too busy thinking about weight crushing you). In a Romanian deadlift, there are things you can try to shut down your adductors, but it’s still going to be pretty tough to target the glutes and high lateral hamstrings directly, especially at the bottom position.
Now, to be clear: do you HAVE to have the F660 to do it? No. It’s nothing special about the actual machine. It’s the exercise that you do on the F660. You could do this on pretty much any similarly setup leg press machine. We just happen to do it on our F660 (and it works well).
To really hammer at the glutes and high lateral hamstrings, the single leg press seems to be a fantastically accurate way of hitting the bulls eye!
Now, we also like building up people’s quads to give them to strength to be able to do step ups and lunges with more confidence.
Doing squats is a fine way to build up butt and quad strength – IF you are able to fire your quads and glutes properly. Again, we run into a lot of situations where people are unable to fire their quads and glutes in an appropriate ratio that doesn’t continue to encourage over-reliance on the adductors. So how can you possibly get someone to squat in a way that uses their quads and glutes instead of their adductors?
The incline hack squat on the F660 helps people find the quads and glutes in a squat pattern!
The incline hack squat eliminates a lot of the instability that makes it hard for people to get the right recruitment pattern. The work gets driven straight into the quads and glutes – once you find the right foot position for yourself.
If you want more quad activity, you bring the feet more under you (and make sure you are VERY mindful of how much stress you’re putting on your knee joints). If you want more glute activity, you bring your feet further forward (and make sure you watch for any lower back rounding that could result in some serious pain. You’ll also want to play with the width of your foot placement too to see how that affects knee stress and glute/quad engagement ratios. It’s really dependent on your own individual geometry and muscle development, so don’t look for any concrete numbers here!
Is the Bodycraft F660 a good choice?
If you’re looking at the Bodycraft F660, you might be looking at a couple other leg press / hack squat combos. You’re probably looking for a leg press / hack squat combo that you can setup and use without worry. That’s what we were looking for too. We are a small facility. After reading tons of reviews, we eventually settled on the F660 because:
- It’s low profile. The thing does not take up an absurd amount of space. If you’re making your own garage gym and want a way to get extra leg volume, having a leg press and then a separate incline hack squat would be a huge waste of space. We’re in a fairly small studio, so this really matters. We’ve been surprised to find that the calf raises, donkey calf raises, and the seated hack squat option on this machine are all nice little bonuses to get in extra lower body work without sacrificing any floor space.
- It’s well-reviewed. The forum posts we found from other users were pretty positive. People who have used the F660 and the other cheaper leg press / incline hack squat combos tended to strongly recommend spending a little extra money on buying the F660. The linear bearings are a durability and functional bonus, and many people have mentioned it feels much sturdier than its cheaper counterparts (though we can’t personally confirm that).
- It’s reasonably priced. Is it a slam dunk of a deal like adjustable dumbbells versus a full rack of dumbbells for a home gym? No. But it seems to be durable and well made and has multiple exercises all neatly wrapped up into one.
Finally, we got to try it at a nearby store. This really helped put it over the top. Using it at the store made it clear that it was going to work for our purposes. In addition to being able to try it out at a local store, we also had it delivered from our local store. And then we had it assembled by the local store! The assembly guys knew what they were doing; the two of them had it done in an hour and a half. Easy peasy.
We have been using the F660 for three months now at least 6 days a week with our clients. It’s holding up just fine. We’ve had no major issues with it, though shorter people may not like it as much (see below).
What could be improved on the Bodycraft F660?
There are only two things I would change on this machine, and both pertain to the incline hack squat. First, the hack squat setup is not optimized for anyone under 5’8″. If you’re going to be doing incline hack squats, you’re going to bottom out prematurely. The only way around this is to either add more padding to the shoulders or to find a way to raise the footplate height.
Second, the foot plate for the incline hack squat is a bit short if you want to get good glute activation. This is not necessarily a design flaw. I think Bodycraft intended to make the incline hack squat setup superb for blasting your quads. The reason lots of people choose to do incline hack squats is to blast their quads. So the current design is perfect for that.
But if you are trying to get deep into the hack squat so you can get some glute activation to go with your quads, you’ll find your knees taking WAY too much strain from the geometry of the setup (even if you are taller than 5’8″ and most definitely if you are taller than 6’2″). You just can’t walk your feet forward enough to get into your glutes. Adding length to the foot plate would mean taking up more space and adding cost to the F660, so it’s understandable that Bodycraft chose the setup they did.
We have clients under 5’8″ (and I’m only 5’7″), and we want to get glute activation on the incline hack squat. We drew up some specs and had a metal shop make us a special steel insert to effectively raise the level of the foot plate and lengthen it. Now we can get our desired foot position for anyone as short as 5’0″ and as tall as 6’5″ (guesstimates).
For the leg press setup, the F660 is perfect.
What’s the bottom line?
We really like our F660 hip sled. It’s been instrumental in helping several clients reactivate long-dormant butt and leg muscles.
The leg press function is perfect, and the inline hack squat is good enough for our purposes with the little hack we made. If you’re looking to blast your legs with extra leg work, you’ll probably be pretty happy with this machine. It’s well-made, durable, and has several different lower body exercises to help you get in that volume (leg press, incline hack squat, seated hack squat, calf raises, donkey calf raises).
If you found this review and breakdown helpful, and you’re going to buy one of these machines online, please feel free to use one of the links to the F660 on this page. If you use one of our links, Amazon will give us a little affiliate bonus which helps us produce more great content. It will NOT affect your purchase price at all.
UPDATE: Some people were asking about the attachment we made for the foot plate for hack squats. Here are some pictures.