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Favorite Exercises


Since you are from another era, i’d like to learn your opinion. What are the best exercises for each body part according to your years of experience?

You’ve asked for a boatload of answers. Instead, here’s my best upper-body exercise and lower-body exercise.

Upper body: Negative-only chin with added resistance.
Lower body: Leg press on a well-designed leg-press machine.


Thanks for the advice. But I’m curious, what do you mean exactly by a well designed leg-press machine? Since we’re on the subject, do you think it’s better when the back pad is at 90 degrees with the legs or a more extended back is better (like a more straight position, back at 130 degrees for exemple)?

Great to have you here

The back pad should be, as you noted, at an angle of approximately 130 degrees. It should be far enough back to provide support, but not so far that you scoot backward as you extend your legs. The other concept that a well-designed leg-press machine should have is a weight stack that moves vertically. The ones that are angled at 45 degrees required large amounts of resistance and are not nearly as efficient as the ones that go straight up and down.

What’s your view on the vertical leg press? I love those machines but hard to find. Thx for your answer.

I haven’t seen a vertical leg-press machine in more than 20 years. Some of them worked well, especially if you had a padded back pad that was comfortable.

I knew an old timer, Wilber Miller, who used to do leg presses with an olympic bar loaded to 300 pounds placed on the soles of his work boots.

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I have a Nautilus 2st horizontal leg press. Are you a fan of this one at all? It and the basically identical Nautilus next generation leg press don’t get much love for some reason- not sure why as I love mine! I bought mine for $100! Had lots of fun taking it apart to take through a 30" wide doorway and basement.

What is your opinion on leg extension machines and also belt squats?

Hello Dr. Darden and everyone. I’m currently in the market for a horizontal leg press machine with a vertical weight stack as you describe. I’ll understand, of course, if you’re reluctant to make a recommendation online but are there any models/brands that standout at the moment? Given the current Covid restrictions it’s difficult to actually try any out at the moment. Many thanks and regards,