About Leg Pressing the Toyota Corolla

Some people have been asking about the Toyota leg press my son and I did in 2007. Here is the information. (Note: the GetThisStrong.com site is never updated. All the SCT news is at the website you are on now.)

I bought this car in the summer of 2005 for 550 bucks in a grocery store parking lot in fabulous and exciting Emmett, Idaho (pop. 5,490). It drove OK but was in pretty rough condition mechanically. I only wanted it so my teenage kids could learn to drive a standard transmission.
Here are the vital statistics regarding the exact car that is on the leg press:

VIN:                       JT2AE83E1H344XXXX

Year/Make/Model:  1987 TOYOTA COROLLA LE

Body Style:             SEDAN 4 DR

Engine Type:          1.6L L4 2BL

According to Wikipedia the curb weight of the car is 2,390 lbs.

However, the definition of curb weight, includes full coolant, oil and gas. Since this car was driven by teenagers it was low on all three. But it was running at the time we moved it to the welder’s shop so it had some gas in it when we lifted it. So to be fair we should subtract 70 pounds (10+ US gallons) from the curb weight. Thus the car likely weighs about 2,320.

However, the leg press itself had to be seriously reinforced in order to hold the car and have me bounce it up and down a few times. Some of the reinforcing steel did not have to be lifted so its weight is moot. But the weight of the reinforced movable sled that holds the cradle the car sits on is 253 lbs empty. So the total weight being lifted is a very respectable 2,573 lbs.! Well over a ton. Over a metric tonne, in fact.

The Video

My training method involves holding a weight statically (motionless) in the strongest and safest range of motion for 5 seconds. And, believe me, done properly it makes you fantastically strong. But zero movement doesn’t make a very interesting video. So I did a few short reps instead. Regardless, the whole lift is over in just 5 seconds or so. Plus, we only had one video camera. So the lift you see me doing from two different angles is actually two lifts I did about 15 minutes apart on the same day. On the first lift I did 6 reps and on the second one I did 8 reps. The first time we shot from my left side and the second time from my right. We edited them together for the clip but still just showed 8 total reps. (I’m not boasting here, but I’d like to point out that doing this exercise twice, by definition, means it is not the absolute maximum weight I can lift. That’s how strong my training can make you…a Toyota Corolla is too light for your leg workout!)

Also, Jeff did his lift a few days before I did. If you look closely you’ll see the barber pole graphic is not there for his lift. Also he’s wearing different clothes in the lift compared to when he’s talking. Jeff and I train at different intervals so the day I lifted was too soon for him to lift, thus the edit. Also, you’ll notice Jeff can manage “only” a rep and a half. But, hey, he hasn’t done a full 60 seconds of training yet. The day of his lift he’d completed 9 workouts for 45 seconds of total exercise time. And he’s just 16…give him a few years and maybe he’ll leg press a Buick.

Is There a Trick to It?

It’s honest weight, folks. A Toyota Corolla is a “small car” but when you’re under it and hoisting it with your own legs it’s the heaviest thing you can imagine. It feels like a train. And nothing was stripped out of the car. Not the spare tire, the jack, the battery…anything. So we really lifted that much weight…and so can you. That’s my biggest point – YOU can Get This Strong.

And once YOU get this strong…you’ll look differently at those behemoth, sweaty macho guys in the gym who grunt and scream while doing a 500 pound leg press. Five hundred pounds might be too light for your warm-up.

Oh, another thing; I’m not one of those world-class strongmen, by any means. Guys like Bill Kazmaier and Vasiliy Alekseyev would eat me for breakfast. For the record, I have never been a pro or amateur athlete of any kind, nor was I an athlete in high school or college. Likewise, my son Jeff is just a regular guy. He’s 6′ 1″ and 173 pounds. Despite that, we can easily lift a car because of the way we train.

There is some relevant math related to conventional leg press machines. Most leg press machines (like the one in the video) slide the weight on a 45 degree angle. That makes it easier than lifting it straight up and down. How much easier? Well, the sine of 45 degrees = 0.707 so the equivalent weight, in this case, is 70.7% of 2,573 lbs. That equals 1,819 lbs. So if you could squat 1,819 lbs it would be equivalent to doing this Toyota leg press. I don’t think anybody in the world can squat 1,819 lbs and if they could I would not recommend it due to the pressure on the neck and spine during squats. That’s one reason I’ve always advocated leg presses rather than squats.

But You Only Moved it a Few Inches?

That right and it’s very deliberate. I can’t do a full range rep with 2,500+ pounds. It would tear up my knees, tendons and ligaments because when you lift weight in your weakest range of motion you are inviting injury to those areas. So full range motion, by definition, means using light weights. However, and this is a BIG point, my muscles are obviously capable of lifting 2,500+ pounds. So by limiting strain on my joints, tendons and ligaments I am able to deliver unprecedented stimulation to my muscle fibers.

Muscle fibers are activated by the amount of weight of the lift, not the distance they have to travel. (That’s why lifting 800 pounds 4 inches is so much harder than lifting 200 pounds 16 inches, even though the amount of “work” done is equal.) To lift more weight you have to activate more individual muscle fibers. My muscle fibers lifted a massive 2,500+ pounds and that is the most muscle growth stimulation they could possibly receive. I generated that massive, extra stimulation by limiting the range of motion. So more muscle fiber growth is stimulated yet the risk of injury is actually reduced.

I invite you to test this yourself. Try leg pressing the most you can in your strongest range, then lift one quarter of that weight for four times the distance. The lighter weight traveling four times the distance will feel like a feather and your leg muscles won’t feel like they are working hard at all. (But be careful in your weakest range as you will be straining your knees, tendons and ligaments.) In strength training weight trumps distance; that’s a fact.

How About Steroids, Growth Hormone or Testosterone?

Never. Not once, ever in my life have I ever taken any of those. I’ve been writing about strength training for over 15 years and I’ve never had a good thing to say about steroids and the rest. I think the people who advocate those drugs care more about the vanity aspects of muscle than they care about the health aspects of muscle. I’m in my 50’s and my focus is totally on the health and longevity benefits of strength training. Besides, you don’t need any drugs to get strong enough to lift a car.

So What’s Your Point?

My point is that conventional strength training is woefully inadequate when it comes to developing your maximum strength and doing so in a time efficient manner. How many workouts would you have to do using the same-old-same-old 3 sets of 12 reps every Monday, Wednesday and Friday before you could lift a Toyota Corolla? I can show you how to do it in less than 60 seconds of training time. Can your current method beat that?

CLICK IMAGES TO SEE LARGER PHOTO

This is how the car looked before we painted it. I wanted the car to look more dramatic in the photos and the faded, chipped red was just awful.

This is how the car looked before we painted it. I wanted the car to look more dramatic in the photos and the faded, chipped red was just awful.

As you can see the engine, battery and other components are still there. (You can tell it was a really cheap paint job because you can see the old red paint.)

As you can see the engine, battery and other components are still there. (You can tell it was a really cheap paint job because you can see the old red paint.)

Different angle shows the car on the leg press with the hood open.

Different angle shows the car on the leg press with the hood open.

Here you can see the reinforced platform welded to the sled as well as the drive train of the car.

Here you can see the reinforced platform welded to the sled as well as the drive train of the car.

My son Jeff the day we tested the rig with the car safely held by a hydraulic lift.

My son Jeff the day we tested the rig with the car safely held by a hydraulic lift.

This is the crane that was used to place the Toyota on the leg press. You can see how the front strap dented the fender.

This is the crane that was used to place the Toyota on the leg press. You can see how the front strap dented the fender.

 

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14 Responses to About Leg Pressing the Toyota Corolla

  1. mike styszko at #

    Great read on your toyota xerciser. Back in the mid 70’s I used to lift the rear of an english escort (rear wheel drive) upward enough to push it over the front roller of a chassis dynomometer. I pressed my back against the bumper and lifted with my hips and legs. I was 130 lbs @ 5′ 6″. A fellow employee 220 +lbs @ 6′ 3″ was unable to accomplish this feat no matter how hard he tried. My leg to thigh length ratio and hip height to bumper put me in a stronger and safer position than my bigger friend. I’ve since retired from secular work and now find the leg press @ my gym is too light with only 500lbs to lift. I still enjoy having younger much larger bucks unable to match my intensity. When they can’t even move the full stack I calmly do partial reps. Then I mention my warm up is over and need to work harder and proceed to partial reps with my left leg alone then ballance myself out with the same amount of intensity for the other leg. I also change the seat position to vary mechanical advantage and range of motion . Intensity safely always rules.

  2. Giuseppe at #

    Thanks for that explanation Pete. Very interesting as always.

  3. Arnold Ahyuen at #

    Hey Pete,
    Arnold again. So a couple of weeks ago I posted the lower pulley crunch of my Honda CIVIC for about 6 or so inches using the ab strap. I was later able to fully crunch the CIVIC on a flat surface….boring! So do you remember what I was aiming for the last time? You got it, the Honda Odyssey mini van!! I was not able to fully crunch it but I did move it just over 6 inches with a 5 sec. hold. My 12 year old son also getting in to it using the ab strap on the CIVIC. Father and son time, he loves it. My 7 year old daughter even had a go at it and while she couldn’t move the civic I did have her hold it for 5 sec.. The next generation of SCT’ers!!

  4. Haha! That’s amazing. We have GOT to get an SCT machine into your family. It’s a bit sad the lengths people have to go to to get enough overload to their muscles. I swear half the equipment in gyms might as well be made by Fisher Price. Haha.

  5. Arnold Ahyuen at #

    I’d love to have an SCT at my house. I think it would be awful tempting to overtrain though. Yeah it’s kinda annoying looking at the Nautilist upright crunch machines that max out at 210 lbs.. I ‘ve tried to find ways to attach 45 lbs. plates to the stack but it started getting dangerous. The ab strap gave me options that are much more exciting and challenging. Whats next? A slight incline with the CIVIC or tow tie the civic and odyssey end to end for a pull? I’ll keep you posted!

  6. Jo at #

    Pete, I have told you before and I will tell you again – you are revolutionary !
    It is funny to watch these huge guys in the gyms playing with dumbels of 10 -15 kg. for biceps and shoulders. they are just pathetic. Strenght is the true reason to go to the gym. Big and weak muscles is a waste of time, effort and money.

  7. Thanks, Jo.

  8. aimo at #

    Thank you very much, Pete!
    Thanks also for your suggestion to go once a month to a commercial Gym to make new records in Leg Press. I will try to find a Gym with enough plates to put on the machine…
    Best Regards from Spain, Aimo, 73 years, 9 months and 15 days.

  9. JPR Petersen at #

    It is so amazing that I buy a Toyota too! This funny remark is an introduction to thank all of the Static Contraction site! I have been introduced by Tony Robbins to you and that is fine, because I like to hear all regarding weighttraining, because I’m a sportcoach too. With weighttraining I recently obtained prices in judo and jiu jitsu, although I’m 60 now. So we can find out much on this subject. In yoga are still unfound treasures to find, because this often goes back about 30.000 years, like the regulation of different energies, hormones, breathing, emotion, mindset and their combinations. Anyway it’s clear this training is presented here is excellent.

  10. Rob Lauderdale at #

    I’d love an SCT at home too! When will it be ready?

  11. I wish I could say, Rob. It’s not under my control, it takes a team of people and several million dollars to get it done right. As soon as I have news I’ll pass it on to you and everyone else. (Lately I’m getting this question more than once per day.)

  12. Rob Lauderdale at #

    Thank you for the update Pete. I know I’ve hounded you more than a couple of times over the last several years. I’m just anxious. I’ll keep watching for it.

  13. Tom Strong at #

    Hmmm…..

    Gave a moment or two thinking about doing that with my Mini Cooper someday when I get stronger, thought it might be lighter than your Toyota. I did a google on that and found the curbweight to be 2,557 lbs.

    That’s ok, I would rather drive it than lift it! Haha

  14. Nobody is more impatient than I to see a proper SCT machine introduced to the world.