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Have you ever wondered what athletes do behind the scenes to prime their bodies for peak performance? The Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs system conditions your legs in between workouts and before and after games, optimizing your recovery time and giving you that extra boost to keep you moving.
Well, that's what Hyperice claims, so I put it to the test.
As a retired professional ice hockey player for Team Korea, I still like to hit the gym at least a few times every week.
I usually split my gym workouts into a warm-up walk and run combo, and then head over to the dumbbells or squat rack. Most of the workouts I do are a combination of my old routines and college hockey days.
Since I like to focus on working out the lower half of my body, I was excited to try the Normatec 3 Legs to see whether the equipment actually helps with conditioning and if it's worth the hefty $699 asking price.
4 x 4.5 x 8 inches
Up to 3 hours
2 leg attachments
Bluetooth via Hyperice app
Before I talk about setup for the Normatec 3 Legs, I'd like to talk about the system's design and build quality. The leg attachments -- which come in two -- are fairly light and can be zipped up once you slide them on like regular pants. Linked to the attachments is the main control unit, which feels like a small dumbbell, weighing 3.2 lbs, so you can definitely feel it if you leave it on your lap while the machine is running. Your best bet is to avoid any discomfort is to tuck the controller to the side.
My other qualm about the design is about the main hose that connects the control unit and the leg attachments; it gets in the way and can jumble the connectors and cords, giving the equipment a messy look.
Fortunately, the Normatec 3 Legs are easy to clean, as Hyprice recommends using a damp washcloth to wipe everything down and then drying it with another cloth.
For storing, Hyperice suggests leaving the product in a cool, dry place that isn't in direct sunlight. It does take up space -- imagine the size of astronaut pants -- so make sure to leave enough room to store both the leg attachments and the control unit.
Setting up the Normatec 3 Legs
The setup process for the Normatec 3 Legs was simple, taking me under 10 minutes to unpack and get the thing running.
You first connect the main hose to the control unit and the two air outlets to the leg attachments. Then, simply plug the control unit into an outlet with the provided charger and click the power button on the side of the box to turn it on. From there, I was able to customize my own massage sessions by choosing which zone I wanted to target on my legs, how much pressure I wanted, and how long the routine lasted.
There are five zones that you can target, ranging from your feet (zone one) to your upper thighs (zone five). As for the intensity of the pressure, you can set the levels from one (lowest) to seven (highest). The middle range should suffice for most users.
If you don't feel like customizing your own routine, you can select a preset routine via Hyperice's mobile app, available on iOS and Android. The presets range from "Freshen your legs" to "Improve your sleep." More on what each one does below.
The first time I used the Normatec 3 was after an exhausting run. When I slipped the leg attachments on, they were slightly long for me (I'm 5' 5"), and I had to readjust them to make sure they were generally aligned with my legs.
But as I started my routine, I could feel the air compression filling up the leg attachments, so the bit of extra space at the bottom didn't bother me too much. I used the default half-hour duration and played around with the pressure level and zones.
The periodic tightening and release of different parts of my legs felt calming to me. Each time the air filled up my leg attachments, my legs felt like they were on clouds. I generally kept a pressure level at 3 and 4 on the control unit so that it didn't feel uncomfortably tight. If it weren't for the humming noise coming from the hose, I probably could have fallen asleep with these on.
Some of you might be familiar with the practice of elevating your legs against a wall after a hard workout to drain the lactic acid from them. Each time the air compressed and then released from my legs, I felt the same "pins and needles" reaction from the lactic acid draining. Though this might feel uncomfortable for some, when my routine was over, I felt like I had just finished receiving a leg massage.
In fact, the next day, someone asked me how this review was going, and I realized then that I had forgotten about my workout because my legs didn't feel tired. Normally, I would experience sore muscles for two to three days after an exercise session, but that wasn't the case here.
The massage-like experience was enough to convince me to try the Normatec 3 Legs again, this time during my pre-workout. I used the "Pre-workout warm-up" routine from the Hyperice app, which was relatively short (only 15 minutes).
While I didn't expect the pre-workout warm-up routine to be as effective as the post-workout treatment, I found myself lasting longer during treadmill runs and sprints than I have before. However, by the time I headed over to the squat rack after my run, my legs began to feel sore or tired. Perhaps the pre-workout routine is less for conditioning and more for warming up. How your body feels during a workout depends on how hard you push it.
Generally, I'd stick with using the Normatec 3 Legs after workouts and not before.
Does it improve your sleep?
One of the routines in the Hyperice app is titled "Improve your sleep," so I was intrigued. The mode sets the casing pressure at level four for about 25 minutes, with the intention of decompressing your legs before sleeping. From my testing, I didn't feel any more or less tired than usual. Sure, I noticed again that my legs weren't sore from my workouts the day before, but the routine feels more like long-term insurance for reducing soreness as opposed to actually improving my sleep. I'll have to see how the feature plays out in the long run.
If you're willing to splurge on the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs, then you won't be disappointed with its performance. The only downside is how the weighted main hose that connects to the control unit takes away from the portability of the equipment. Other than that, the Normatec 3 system met my expectations of improving my workouts and conditioning.
Also, the appeal of these leg attachments isn't only for athletes and people who work out. Throughout the week, I found myself zipping the leg attachments up for use during the day, even when I hadn't worked out, just so I could have a relaxing massage.
If you're someone who wants the soreness in your legs to go away as soon as possible after a workout or long day of walking, then the compression technology works. If you never have time to book a massage, this is also a great option for you to use at home.