A leg press and a squat are very different things, in the context of what you’re trying to do. For the purpose of working the quads, you can use either one.
However, in the context of your program, the purpose of the squat is: strengthening the back, hips, legs, calves; improving balance; improving your mental resilience. Among some other things. This is why the leg press is a poor substitute.
I wouldn’t consider a cut at all until you’re at least intermediate standards on those charts. And I probably wouldn’t even consider one then. You really need to be pushing your squat and/or deadlift numbers up. Both of those will make the biggest difference in strength and power, and have the most relevance to everything else in your life. While the press and bench will make you “look better” faster than the deadlift and squat will, the deadlift and squat will build the kind of strength that’s genuinely useful.
To answer one of your questions though, your lifts should not go down when you do any sort of cut. If your lifts are going down, you’re either cutting too quickly, or eating improperly. This is not just a thing for “beginner strength gains”; people 3-5x stronger than you, on this site, have been able to keeping get stronger while cutting weight.
All that said, you’re doing a good job keeping with it and getting better. You could be making faster progress than you are, but you’re making progress. Just keep at it.[/quote]
Ahh okay, that’s really helpful. Will go back to Squats then, hopefully the fact my other leg lifts have gone up means I won’t have to deload for Squat.
Sure, I’ve been improving a lot on DL so it should continue, my grip is a limiting factor so I need to work on that (guess I’ll add Farmers walks in and hold at the top of the DL movement for longer).
Alright, I’ll bear that in mind when I eventually do a cut. Thanks for your help