How to Use Free Motion Squat Machines

Three women in step workout class doing lateral lunges

For some individuals, it can be challenging to maintain proper body alignment when performing a freestanding squat. One common mistake is to push your knees forward and shift your body weight onto the balls of your feet, which places undue stress on the knee joints. The FreeMotion squat machine is designed to overcome these problems, helping you to maintain proper body alignment throughout the exercise. By keeping your back firmly against the back pad, your weight stays over your heels and your knees do not protrude forward.

Select your resistance before you step into the machine. Pull the weight pin out of the weight stack. Choose the desired resistance and slide the weight pin into the weight plate. Push the pin all the way against the weight stack. The end of the pin should point to the floor, not up toward the ceiling.

Step onto the platform and place your back firmly against the back pad.

Reach above you and pull the shoulder pads down until they rest firmly against your shoulders. As you pull the bars down, you can pivot the shoulder pads so they contour with your body.

Grab the handles next to the shoulder pads. Rest your right hand over the hand brake, but do not engage the brake. This is a safety mechanism that releases the weight if needed.

Step your feet forward. The proper foot position is different for each individual, but your knees should align with your ankles when you drop down into a squat. If your knees push forward past your toes, step your feet farther forward.

Inhale, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat. As you drop down, you will hear audible clicks as the squat machine engages the weight. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor and then drop down until the machine clicks one more time. This ensures that you have extra room so the weight stack doesn't touch every time you do a squat.

Exhale, push through your heels, extend your knees and hips and stand back up against the resistance.

Complete 12 to 15 repetitions. Lower into a squat, engage the hand brake to release the weight stack and stand up. Step out of the machine.


Select a weight that allows you to complete 12 to 15 repetitions with good form, but still have the movement be challenging. If you can easily complete 20 repetitions, move the weight pin down to the next plate.


If you drop down into your squat and you cannot press back up due to fatigue, engage the hand brake. This releases the weight stack, allowing you to stand back up.