T Nation

Leg Press vs. Squat Strength


Well sadly my weightlifting coach/teacher told me today that I could no longer use the leg press for strength gains (we had to use the leg press in the program he assigned us) because there wasn't any more room to add weight.

As overjoyed as I was when I was told that I had to squat from now on, I don't know exactly how much I can squat when I work out. I'd like a general idea of what weight I can handle with squats so that I can be prepared for my workout on Thursday. If I do 540 lbs x 30 reps with a bit left in the tank approx. how much can I squat x10 or is there no way to figure it out? I suppose that if someone has similar numbers they can just post what they can do but either way it'd be great.



This reminds me of that "How many times can I bench 225?" post.

There's no way to figure it out. You could very well not even be able to do one proper body weight squat.


If I couldn't do 1 proper BW squat I probably wouldn't be able to get out of bed in the morning lol. Oh well. Thanks for the information. I was hoping that there was possibly some correlation between the 2 exercises that would give me a hint in the right direction. Thanks anyways though.


You could have flexibility problems. I wasn't talking entirely about strength.


Here's a more helpful reply:

If you add 10 lbs a week to the bar, then in 52 weeks you'd be squatting 520 lbs. There's no way you'll be getting to a 520 lb squat in a year. So start low since there's no reason to start high. Be conservative; don't hurt yourself.


echanics Laboratory, HPER Department, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322


Willardson, J.M., and E. Bressel. Predicting a 10 repetition maximum for the free weight parallel squat using the 45° angled leg press. J. Strength Cond. Res. 18(3):567�??571. 2004.�??The purpose of this research was to devise prediction equations whereby a 10 repetition maximum (10RM) for the free weight parallel squat could be predicted using the following predictor variables: 10RM for the 45° angled leg press, body mass, and limb length. Sixty men were tested over a 3-week period, with 1 testing session each week. During each testing session, subjects performed a 10RM for the free weight parallel squat and 45° angled leg press. Stepwise multiple regression analysis showed leg press mass lifted to be a significant predictor of squat mass lifted for both the advanced and the novice groups (p < 0.05). Leg press mass lifted accounted for approximately 25% of the variance in squat mass lifted for the novice group and 55% of the variance in squat mass lifted for the advanced group. Limb length and body mass were not significant predictors of squat mass lifted for either group. The following prediction equations were devised: (a) novice group squat mass = leg press mass (0.210) + 36.244 kg, (b) advanced group squat mass = leg press mass (0.310) + 19.438 kg, and (c) subject pool squat mass = leg press mass (0.354) + 2.235 kg. These prediction equations may save time and reduce the risk of injury when switching from the leg press to the squat exercise.



my workout buddy can leg press about 700lbs but can't squat the bar cause his fat belly combined with his horrible hip mobility prevents him from going ass to grass or even below paralell (without his heels coming off the ground).

I'd say either start with your body weight (on the bar) and see how many you can do in good form. or even better idea start light, say 135lbs and work on your form for the first week. squating requires much better form than a leg press. more technical and that.


I can leg press over a thousand, but can only squat 140 with good form, what does that mean?

Leg pressing has absolutely jack shit to do with squatting.

My weak point is keeping an arch in my thoracic spine, and your squat will only be as good as your weakest link, no matter how many plates you can leg press. And trust me, the squat has many more links than the leg press.

Hope this answers your question.


BTW, 540 for 30 reps, impressive! lol


Oh. Btw, if you use the above equations, (I put you in the novice class), you have a squat "30rm" of ~187. If 30rm is 50% of your 1rm then you should be able to squat 374 lbs.

Let us know how that works out for you. :wink:


Except if you put 374# on the bar your back will collapse because your back is untrained.


Exactly. Unless he is doing deads or good mornings or something along that line.


Agreed. I don't really see how that study can predict the back strength of a person based on the leg press. Not to mention mobility.


That study seems like crap to me. A good squatter will always be a good leg presser, but a good leg presser can be a terrible squatter.


crazy - I'm sorry you feel that I'm trying to impress people. If I did come across that way then I apologize because that wasn't my intention. I was merely hoping for a point in the right direction. I was unsure as to whether there was possibly a way to get an approximation of my ability to squat. I'm sure the negativity you showed in this topic doesn't accurately represent your personality in real life so lighten up a bit eh?

zenon, gooch (lol), and everyone else - Thanks for your help, tomorrow I'll start at 135 and work on form until I have it right and then start adding plates until I find my 10RM.

Everyone thanks once again,


Hey, not trying to be negative here, but I would think twice about jumping in with 135 on the bar and trying to perfect your form from there. Not saying you can't do it, it's prob not enough to hurt you either. But you could end up wasting your time more than if you just started with the bar or even nothing and working your way up PERFECTLY from there. You could even put yourself in the habit of squatting with bad form early.

Sorry for all the negativity, just my opinion, better to learn to walk before you run...


I can load up a cybex leg press machine with as many plates as it'll hold (22 or 24) and I can get 19 reps out of that.

My max squat is 405. That's going to what I believe WPO depth is (if you look at the lifter's depth at the Arnold and other WPO guys you have to admit that it's relativly high - once the bottom of the butt comes in line with the knee)

If you can hit 500 on the leg press for 10 reps you'll be lucky if you can get in more than 3 full squats with 185. In fact that might be a bit high.

Just yesterday I convinced one of my friends that the leg press wouldn't get him as jacked as squatting. He said he was doing the cybex plate loaded leg press with 12 plates but when I put 135 on his back it was an epic battle for him to get 12 reps.

The only way to know what you'll be able to squat is to get squatting. Don't think of ANY different lift in terms of pre-requisites and percentages or in terms of "well if I can zercher this much I should front squat that much." Just treat every lift you do as a different activity you need to give your all. Sure, some lifts will help improve other lifts but there's no formula to determine exactly what carryover you'll get for anything.

The percent of your leg press you can squat or the percent of your 1RM Bench Press you can Incline Dumbbell Bench Press for 15 Reps is always changing depending on your genetics and how strong you are. A newbs leg press and squat will be closer than an advanced lifter. A newbs dumbbell lifts will be closer to his barbell lifts. Some people's dumbbell rows will be more than their barbell rows. Some people's T-Bar rows will be more or less than their Barbell Rows. Fuck, some weightlifters can overhead squat more than they can front squat.

Train to get strong and to hit big numbers in everything. Your strength curve will be balanced when you bench 1000, squat 1200, and deadlift 1100.


Lol fine I'll start with just the bar, make sure I go ATG and have my lifting coach spot my set and tell me about any form issues.

And Crazy I don't think you needed to go that far in your post edit lmao but it's all good.

EDIT: I didn't think this deserved a new topic but it is a bit off topic - I'm an arm dominant puller so my back is going to be sub par, is there any way that I can fight this to equalize it a bit. I've been doing straight arm pulldowns to isolate my lats more and I can feel it but what else would work my back without introducing my arms into the equation? Lat pulldowns give me a great arm pump but my back needs developing, my arms are big enough for me. Plus like it was mentioned earlier your back is involved in squatting. All ideas appreciated.



Try concentrating on your elbows getting close to your body during pulling movements.


Well I did my squats today. I started with some BW squats to get the form right and then asked my coach to watch my form for me while I did my squats. Counting the other sets as a warm up I basically did 3 sets of 15 with 185# while squatting ATG (glutes/hams to calves). After each set I still felt like I had a couple more reps in me so next week I'll raise it to 205# and see how many full reps I can get out of that which is hopefully about 10..well we'll see (We're supposed to be doing drop sets for strength starting with a weight we can do for about 10 reps, do a set, and then dropping by 10%, and then doing that once more for 1 major body part and then a 1 set of 20 reps for every other body part).

Basically something like:

DB Bench - 70# x 10, 60# x AMAP, 50# x AMAP
Military Press - 35# x 20
Tricep Pulldown - 140# x 20
DB Curl - 25# x 20
Straight Arm Pulldown - 120# x 20
Squat - 185# x 20
Crunches (optional) - BW/BW+45 x AMAP

^^ so it would look something like that with the major muscle groups being chest, shoulders, and legs, and you just rotate those for every session.

When it comes to squatting I do think that my back is my weak point because my legs didn't seem to be too stimulated, well at least less than if I was doing the leg press but that's understandable I suppose.

Man the base of my neck is killing me, I feel so pussy thinking about it but a bar pad would be great lmao. Also the top of my forearm right before the elbow seems to be a little sore too....well I guess I'll see in the morning.

RB even with keeping my elbows as close as possible my arms are getting quite stimulated so doing seated rows and lat pulldowns (with pronated grip) work my arms a lot more than they should.