The Pendulum squat is an incredible exercise used to primarily target the quadriceps in a controlled manner. In this article we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the Pendulum Squat and why you should include it in your lower body or leg training sessions.
A pendulum squat is a lower body weight training machine that has a large emphasis on the quadriceps and gluteus but also engages the hamstrings. In terms of the movement, the movement pattern of a pendulum squat is different to that of a free weight squat and leg press, but more alike a hack squat, with an even greater range of active motion of the quadriceps due to the angle of the foot plate, the machine itself, and your spinal position.
This makes it (if your gym has one) a great tool as part of your lower body training arsenal.
As you can see from the image of this Panatta Pendulum Squat machine, there is a huge range of motion due to the machine alignment where you can truly take your hamstring to your calf with no limitation due to spinal loading in your range of motion here.
Well there’s many advantages to a pendulum squat machine overall due the general benefits of any squat movement pattern, but here’s some of the benefits of using one;
From my reading, I can’t see any EMG activity data on a pendulum vs a squat, leg press or hack but safe to say they will be fairly comparable exercises from an activation perspective.
In terms of real disadvantages, the only “real” one from my experience of using a pendulum is increased exertion through the knee joint due to the increased range of motion, but this can be mitigated with foot position, tempo and loading. The other obvious one is lack of equipment availability, many gyms don’t have a pendulum squat, so if you travel around and go to different gyms, picking a pendulum as an exercise to progress week on week may not be beneficial if you can’t use it every session you need to.
But overall, if you can, and you like the movement, you should use a pendulum because it’s just a great exercise for building lower body tissue. There’s no safety limitation, you can push to failure and beyond safely and it’s a HARD exercise.
So the pendulum squat is actually a relatively easy machine to use as you’re effectively locked in place once you set your back, hips and feet. But here’s how to set up and complete the movement (we’ve also shared a great video below from the muscle mentors showing you exactly how to do it).
Tempo wise, I like to use a slow eccentric, slight pause in the bottom position and a more explosive concentric for a pendulum movement.
If you watch the following video by Luke, you’ll see exactly what we mean by the above!
Now this is slightly subjective, but we do have some personal favourites out there from commercial equipment that we’ve used and what you can buy on the market for at home.
Our pick for the best commercially (and more widely available) Pendulum Squat. It’s expensive, but a great but of kit nonetheless
You won’t see many of these dotted around, but this is my personal favourite I’ve ever used. (My gym has one, I’ve never seen another gym with one)
Best home gym pendulum, by a way. It’s pricey for home gym kit, but if I was buying one for mine, I’d buy this for sure (and you can just click the image)
So there you have it, and hopefully with it, everything you’ll probably ever need to know about the pendulum squat.
Give it a try if your gym has one, you’ll probably love (hate) it, but it’s a bloody good one!