leg exercises?

I have a question, first some background. I am a MA crosstrainer, I do it as a hobby, mostly for health and fitness and compete in grappling tournaments only very occasionally. I'm 49 years old with about 5 years of experience. A few years ago, I started to do weight training once a week, to add variety to my workouts and hopefully add some strength and endurance. The workout was mostly on machines (Hammer Stength, primarily), plus some body weight stuff. I would make 3 sets of 12 reps or 8 reps my target, depending on which exercise it was. I tended to do 8 reps on upper body stuff and 12 reps on lower body exercises, I'm not sure why, it just seemed the legs could take the work better.

For personal reasons, I cut down on my training last winter, and stopped doing the weight training in March.
Since that time, a yoga class was introduced at my MA school, and I started taking that once a week, and have enjoyed it a lot. It's taught by a woman with a MA background, plus she was a div II college basketball player, so her focus is on performance, and not the mystical hooha you typically see in yoga classes. I feel that the yoga class has definitely helped my flexibility and balance, and has really helped improve my MA game, kicking in particular.

I've decide to start lifting again, and went a couple of nights ago. I scaled back on the weight on everything, but still did the same 3x12 or 3x8 target. The workout felt pretty good, but since then I've had very tight and sore hamstrings. I think this was caused by doing leg curls, and here's where my question comes in.

I'm thinking that I might need to drop some leg exercises, like the leg curls, leg extensions and calf raises, and just use squats and dead lifts for my lower body. Yoga has made me realize that I need to work on my flexibiilty much more, especially in all those interconnected muscles from the hammies to the lower back, and I don't think those area-specific leg exercises are going to do much good, and actually might hinder my progress.

I'm just looking to be a better grappler and striker, get my weight down a little bit and overall feel good, healthy and strong. And do this efficiently as possible. So, what say you guys, work on my deadlift (which is a totally new exercise to me, BTW) and squats, and drop those other leg routines?

Squats and Deadlifts are all the leg exercises anyone will ever need imo. You can do OLifting also but you would need a coach and it is harder to get right without a coach.

Leg machines are poor if you can do squats/ deadlifts. If you can't squat/ deadlifts then leg machines are an alternative for you.


for an athlete....leg machines add on to squats/deadlifts, not replace them. Maybe if you were only into bodybuilding would they be your first choice. But you sure can do without them. OH, add lunges in there too.

Front Squats, barbell hack squats, reverse lunges, etc.

There are many great free weight leg exercises that you should do at various times.

Single leg squats. Different deadlift types. No need to get on the machines for your legs.

Thanks for the input, guys. I had pain and tightness in my hammies last week that I don't want to experience again, so I think I'm going to focus on deadlifts, etc., and stay away from the leg macines. I had the gym owner show me the basics for the deadlift, I'm going to have an experienced weightlifter from the dojo review my form with me in the near future.

i agree with CockneyBlue. Single leg squats are great.

Machine Hoopla


Thanks for the link, Coach Hale. I saw lots of descriptions of machines that sounded awful familiar, which causes me to consider revamping my whole workout when I return to weight training this fall. I have one question, though: after reading my description above, would you consider me a "serious" trainer? I am certainly not a competitive, hardcore athlete, but I'm no weekend warrior either. What kinds of benefits would I expect to see if I ditched the machines and went all-freeweights (and bodyweight) in my once-a-week weight training routine, used to augment my MA training?