T Nation

Leg Press Better Than Squat?

Hopefully got your attention with that blasphemous subject line.

Okay, in reading a former TC article about wanting to kill Joe Weider, he listed a large number of T-Nation commandments. One of these was “You’ll be hard pressed to get a strength coach to admit it, but for taller athletes, leg presses may be superior to squats for hypertrophy.”

Being a serious weight lifter and former college football player, I was shocked, but in being 6’4", I was intrigued.

Anybody have any info on how this statement could possibly be uttered? Is it purely that a tall athlete can achieve greater depth with the leg press than the squat? Let me know what you think/know…

If I remember correctly, Eric Cressey discusses taller athletes in his D-Tap audio interview. I don’t recall the specifics, however.

I’m tall too,
Toddy

“You’ll be hard pressed to get a strength coach to admit it, but for taller athletes, leg presses may be superior to squats for hypertrophy.”

The way I read it is that it might be better for HYPERTROPHY!! What about strength? Will ever legpress beat ass to grass squat in regards o gaining strength? I don’t think so.

The only thing I use the legpress for is doing calfraises.

Doughnuts better than a beef steak?

[quote]Mr. Moose wrote:
“You’ll be hard pressed to get a strength coach to admit it, but for taller athletes, leg presses may be superior to squats for hypertrophy.”

The way I read it is that it might be better for HYPERTROPHY!! What about strength? Will ever legpress beat ass to grass squat in regards o gaining strength? I don’t think so.

The only thing I use the legpress for is doing calfraises.
[/quote]

The squat involves more muscles, including the glutes and lower back, so it necessarily will provoke more hypertrophy just for that reason alone.

Also, it involves the glutes so much more means a lot, since the glutes are the largest muscle in the body. Stimulating that muscle so much is probably one of the main reasons the squat supposedly provokes the release of so much growth hormone that the entire body can grow from doing squats. At least that’s my guess.

Also, squats require constant balancing and stabilizing from the core muscles – obliques, abs, lower back. Again, more muscle stimulation and work to both fire up the CNS to release GH and, well, simply to provoke muscle growth in those particular muscles. Even the chest and upper back play a part in stabilization.

Squatting also exposes virtually the entire body to high weight – another signal to the CNS for GH release.

But what about the argument for hypertrophy on the leg press side?

Especially as a tall skinny beginner, leg presses let you handle a much greater amount of weight than a squat does. Tall skinny guys often have to squat with very low weights for quite a while.

So you have a trade-off here. In presses, you lose the hypertrophy that squats would give the lower back and glutes and perhaps arguably the biceps femoris. You don’t use as large of a body motion so your CNS loses out on the practice of coordinating your body movement to heft weight, and you won’t have that until you are indeed doing work using full-body movements. But since it’s much easier to put heavy weight on a leg press machine than on a squat, the much greater weight you put on the quads and biceps femoris stimulates them to grow more rapidly than they would with more lightweight squats, and the especially heavy weights does a bit of CNS stimulation to increase GH release on its own.

Higher weight, higher intensity over a smaller number of muscles vs. lower weight being applied in a coordinated fashion but for probably lower intensity for quite a while, until the tall skinny guy gets a lot of strength built up.

A good deal of that strength, what’s more, could actually be built on the leg press, as well as a bit of confidence to go with it to make the squat feel easier and less intimidating.

The truth is, the leg press is great for the quads and biceps femoris, but growing those muscles doesn’t do anything for the lower back nor much for the glutes. Nor does it help develop the balance or refine the “groove” you’ll move in for the squat. It’s great for what it does, but not as complete an exercise by far.

It can still be very beneficial, however, as a confidence builder and a builder of some real leg strength and mass. It can’t replace the squat, but isn’t a bad way for a wobbly-kneed beginner to get some basic strength, control, and confidence. The squat will still be there waiting for him to work into his routine at his own speed. Which he should definitely plan to do.

i have a question along the same lines as this thread. i’m a wrestler in high school, and i have a reacurring shoulder ingury, and believe it or not, i’ve popped it out of socket squating; so with a partialy dislocated shoulder, i had to finish squating 275. so after that little episode, i decided to start squating using the machine with the hooks that looks like a squat rack (sorry, i don’t know name). now this machine basicaly puts you on a line to squat, so does that take away the work of the stabalizer muscles and everything else?

-wrastlerboy

Anybody who’s back becomes the weak link in the squat (which eventually is probably everyone) will not be able to use as much weight in the squat as their legs could handle. A strength athlete would see that as a need to strengthen the back. A bodybuilder would want to find a way to take the back out of it-maybe the leg press, or lunges. In lunges, the back only has to handle the load that 1-leg could handle (if you are strict).

In sports and strength activities, there’s no good reason I can think of to have legs that are stronger than what the back can support.

[quote]wrastlerboy wrote:
i have a question along the same lines as this thread. i’m a wrestler in high school, and i have a reacurring shoulder ingury, and believe it or not, i’ve popped it out of socket squating; so with a partialy dislocated shoulder, i had to finish squating 275. so after that little episode, i decided to start squating using the machine with the hooks that looks like a squat rack (sorry, i don’t know name). now this machine basicaly puts you on a line to squat, so does that take away the work of the stabalizer muscles and everything else?

-wrastlerboy[/quote]

Yes. Get away from it immediately! If you are concerned about exacerbating a shoulder problem while squatting, you can (1) build up your shoulders to make them more stable, concentrating on the external rotators, and/or (2) use a device such as Dave Draper’s Topsquat.

You can use a safety-squat bar as well to take the stress off the upper extremity (shoulders, elbows, and wrists).

Not to mention the fact it will punish your body like no other to boot!

Stay strong
MR

There’s and artical called “Why Lurch won’t grow” in the archives. It’s all about tall guys and training. Check it out, it’s where I remember this topic being brought up.

La’
REdsol1

something to do with the fact that taller guys have to move the weight much further during a squat, hence doing more work for the same weight lifted, which brings cardio ability into the equation?

Right, range of motion increase leads to more of a total energy expenditure. Like you guys have mentionned before, whether or not the leg press will work is strictly up to your goals and what you think.

I dont believe in leg press due to its lack of glute work, CNS and eventually endocrine response to the exercise. I’ve never used height as an excuse, im 6’9, and even though I can only go below a bit past parallel I never would go back to the leg press.

Another alternative I’ve used is a bodybuilding style front squat. I’ve noticed I’ve been able to go down much further and while it does become more of a quad/VMO dominated movement, It seems like glute activation is much higher on a front squat than in a regular back squat. But thats just going on personal experience, not too sure scientifically if it could work.

Can anybody give me a direct link to the “Why Lurch Won’t Grow” article in the archives? I can find references to it but not the actual article…

The farther distance traveled the more work is being done. So, with everything being equal (weight on bar) the taller athlete will have to actually work harder than a Franco Columbu. If a tall athlete or trainee can master the squat I would think that they would actually get more benefit.

[quote]Bolx wrote:
something to do with the fact that taller guys have to move the weight much further during a squat, hence doing more work for the same weight lifted, which brings cardio ability into the equation? [/quote]

[quote]malonetd wrote:
If I remember correctly, Eric Cressey discusses taller athletes in his D-Tap audio interview. I don’t recall the specifics, however.[/quote]

I may be mistaken, but I think Cressey defined “tall” as 6’8" and up…

The glutes (along with hamstrings and some others) are responsible for hip extension. I’d like to see a leg press that doesn’t involve hip extension…

Charlie P also said that studies showed that the leg press may induce more Quad Hypertrohpy than squats. They do not induce more overall leg hypertrophy however (meaning that they do not involve the hammies in the exercise).

Tbat sounds right on both counts. Being able to put higher weight on the leg press should induce more quad hypertrophy, but presses don’t do nearly as much for the biceps femoris because stabilization isn’t a big deal in the leg press like it is in the squat.

The glute is the biggest muscle in the body, and it doesn’t get nearly the stimulation in leg presses that it does in squats, nor do the spinal erectors, so squats probably produce more CNS stimulation and overall growth throughout the body. But that doesn’t mean they make the quads, specifically, grow more.

I think the squat and the deadlift are the kings of lifts, but leg strength and size can definitely be greatly increased on the leg press, too. That doesn’t directly transfer to the squat at all, but it does still manage to serve a purpose.

[quote]chirag wrote:
Doughnuts better than a beef steak?[/quote]

Bad analogy.

Is anybody else starting to roll there eyes?..