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Leg Press vs Squats

After blowing out my lower back last week doing squats I’ve decided to do more leg presses instead. It seems leg press isn’t that popular around T nation but I see more top bodybuilders doing it instead of free barbell squats. I’m wondering what are some of your opinions on leg press vs squats.

in the distant past when i putup with my local ‘fitness centre’, i found leg presses alot easier than squats or pushin the scrum machine at school, so i thought that leg presses must be cheatin.

i prefer doing hard movements for mucle groups eg bb curl with palms down vs palms up. but if u used the leg press for rehab the thats cool - load off the spine i guess, but i aint an expert

Whatever top bodybuilders do is not relevant to regular Joe’s like you and I, so many people fall into this trap of see-do.

Squats are the king of leg exercises, but there can also be alot of merit in leg press particularly if you back is injured, try it and see how your legs and back like it. I don’t get alot out of leg press personally but you may.

Why don’t you also try front squatting, for me front squats remove my lower back from the exercise almost completely because of the more upright posture the exercise demands. It may be the same for you depending on your structure.
Get well soon.

You see, I’m the direct opposite, I feel front squats MORE in my lower back and abs because the weight is in front of me and I have to stabilise it or be pulled forwards.

With a back injury, I’d recommend that if you do choose to leg press, to keep the best posture you can and not go too heavy. If you look at the line the weight will take through the seat of a leg press, it passes straight through your lower back so heavy reps of bad form are definitely to be avoided.

I would go for bodyweight lunges for time under tension and single leg glute bridges, to try and keep your back out of it.

Above anything, if you feel anything bad in your lower back, stop. I don’t know how you can blow your back squatting unless you’re really pushing it, but you have to accept that that was your day, and you blew it, and now you have to go through at least 6 wks of getting yourself back to normal before you can even start to think of pushing it again.

You only get one back. Don’t fuck it up!

Good luck. I hope you come back at 110%.

I think that excellence of the Squat for strength and size and numerous other benefits has caused the leg press to be unnecessarily vilified on this site. I’ve gotten great development from incorporating it.

However, I feel it in my bag when doing it to a lesser degree. If you’re really having back problems, I’d be careful with this one.

Nothing wrong with leg pressing. I do not get the lower back strain some complain about leg pressing.

I also find front squatting easier on the lower back.

People around here like to criticize leg press, curls and machines in general but it can all have a place.

If you are going to leg press, make sure that you do not take them very deep. Doing so will cause your lower back to round and thats the last thing you want.

If you have injured your back, I’d go the way Sxio recommends with the lunges and single leg work. It requires a lighter load, so less stress on the back.

Once your better, I would personally start with front squats, again due to the light load I can handle versus back squats.

Then once your alright with the front squats and your back is feeling good, start rotating in back squats and leg presses.

I think part of the reason leg presses get slammed here is this site went pretty far to the side of training like an athlete, not a bodybuilder. It seems to be coming back to centre now (thankfully).

As an FYI, I recall Poliquin mentioning that some studies showed leg presses were superior to squats for quad hypertrophy, but outside of speed skating they didn’t carry over well to most sports.

What are you lifting for? Leg presses are a great exercise. People on here just like the squat more because they feel it puts them with a special group of people that REALLY lift weights (gtfoh).

Leg press allows you to isolate the whole leg, and puts less pressure on your upper body. Notice I said less, if you have a back injury you still may feel it.

It also allows you to load up the weight. If your legs happen to be stronger then the rest of your body then you can still build them vs. the squat where any muscle/tendon from your foot to your upper back can be the the weak link.

It is a leg exercise not a replacement exercise. If your body feels good and you can squat, still squat, you can still add in leg presses also but they are not just interchangeable.

That being said you should really make sure your back is in order above everything else. You’ll be stronger taking a weak off and going back lifting heavy weights versus taking it easy but letting it linger.

[quote]Hagar wrote:
After blowing out my lower back last week doing squats I’ve decided to do more leg presses instead. It seems leg press isn’t that popular around T nation but I see more top bodybuilders doing it instead of free barbell squats. I’m wondering what are some of your opinions on leg press vs squats.[/quote]

[quote]Sxio wrote:
You see, I’m the direct opposite, I feel front squats MORE in my lower back and abs because the weight is in front of me and I have to stabilise it or be pulled forwards.

With a back injury, I’d recommend that if you do choose to leg press, to keep the best posture you can and not go too heavy. If you look at the line the weight will take through the seat of a leg press, it passes straight through your lower back so heavy reps of bad form are definitely to be avoided.

I would go for bodyweight lunges for time under tension and single leg glute bridges, to try and keep your back out of it.

Above anything, if you feel anything bad in your lower back, stop. I don’t know how you can blow your back squatting unless you’re really pushing it, but you have to accept that that was your day, and you blew it, and now you have to go through at least 6 wks of getting yourself back to normal before you can even start to think of pushing it again.

You only get one back. Don’t fuck it up!

Good luck. I hope you come back at 110%. [/quote]

I agree with this. Same deal with Zercher squats…they hit my lower back really hard, back squats do not.

The other thing to consider is…why did you hurt your lower back in the first place? When i did mine i did a lot of reading, particularly by Pavel and quickly realised i knew shit about staying tight.

Once i learnt to stay tight, i got stronger and understood how to use your stomach to protect your lower back

Elliot

Hagar,

If you have injured your back, the best course of action would be to avoid leg presses altogether. The spine undergoes significant compression and shear (the pelvis tends to rotate backwards) with this machine, especially at end range of motion.

Most people with back injuries don’t do well with that type of force. If you must use the leg press, go single leg with the non-working leg stabilized on the floor. This helps maintain neutral spine positions.

As described in Sxio’s post, better exercises would be single leg movements in standing or bridging, always keeping neutral spine.

good luck

[quote]Hagar wrote:
After blowing out my lower back last week doing squats I’ve decided to do more leg presses instead. It seems leg press isn’t that popular around T nation but I see more top bodybuilders doing it instead of free barbell squats. I’m wondering what are some of your opinions on leg press vs squats.[/quote]

I think all those methods are tough on your back. For sheer size, I think leg presses are the best thing, but for over all balanced development in the legs I’d go for single leg movements. One leg squats, Bulgarian split squats, pistols, etc. I think you see great progress with these movements with very little strain on the back.

I just started incorporating leg presses in my program. I really like them. Nothing gets my legs like they do. I sometimes have trouble getting up and walking when I am done with my sets.

I also had lower back issues. I have been doing front squats and leg presses instead.

It has also been said that leg presses are better for taller lifters (as compared to their effectiveness with other lifters). From personal, experience I can support that statement.

[quote]elliotnewman1 wrote:
Sxio wrote:

The other thing to consider is…why did you hurt your lower back in the first place? When i did mine i did a lot of reading, particularly by Pavel and quickly realised i knew shit about staying tight.

Once i learnt to stay tight, i got stronger and understood how to use your stomach to protect your lower back

Elliot

[/quote]

Same here. Pavels method of training, not working out, considering each session a practice, all those body tension principles are really helping me.

I too have back problems and underwent an arthroscopy on my right knee. I tried leg presses but it ended up hurting my knee. So I’m sticking to high rep bodyweight squats and am slowly working my way upto Pistols.

I really would recommend Pavels courses for learning his body tension principles.

1 more thing.
Go easy on the overhead pressing movements.
N anything else in general where you feel the wrong pain in your lower back. In my case even pull ups kindda irritate my sciatica. So I do pull ups, chins with my knees up like I’m working my abs.

      Hagar, what's up bro?

I second what a couple guys have been sayin,…Lunges. I been doin em heavy, and they have been putting new mass and cuts on the thighs very nicely.

I still start off with my squats, but go lighter than I can do, with slightly higher reps than the norm for hypertrophy, 15 at least.

     I finish w/leg extensions, 3 sets HEAVY, with 3 more high rep for the blood pump to get the nutrients flowin and the waste exiting nicely.

     That's my two cents brah..
      ToneBone

What is a “sqaut”?

I haven’t heard that leg presses are better for taller athletes, maybe I should through them into my routine.

I don’t think I’ve leg pressed in about a year now, I do prefer squats, but the main reason is, which is sad, it takes so damn long to load and unload the weight. Single leg presses work fine for me now, doesn’t take so long to load so many 45’s on there.

You should start squatting once you feel it’s safe to squat again.

And then you can still do the leg press. Just do it after squats since it’s an inferior exercise.

If your logic revolves around what other bodybuilders do then you might consider what Mariusz Pudzianowski does on leg day. He starts with back squats and goes from 10 reps in a set down to 8, 6, 4, and finally 2 while adding on weight for every set. When he does leg press he starts at 15 and goes to 12, 10, 8, and then 8 or 6.

The leg press is a good way to use heavy weight for high reps in order to get some good size gains. You can’t stress your legs as well with 15 rep squats as you can with 15 reps of leg press because if you’re squatting for 15 reps your mostly combating that full-body tiredness and not just the legs.

[quote]PF_88 wrote:
I haven’t heard that leg presses are better for taller athletes, maybe I should through them into my routine.

I don’t think I’ve leg pressed in about a year now, I do prefer squats, but the main reason is, which is sad, it takes so damn long to load and unload the weight. Single leg presses work fine for me now, doesn’t take so long to load so many 45’s on there.

TC Wrote:

Don’t 'Diss the Leg Press

For the long-legged lifter, the leg press can actually result in more quad hypertrophy than the squat.(1) I know, I know, a lot of strength coaches would like to throttle me for that statement, but you can bet your ass nine out of ten of them are short bastards.

Because of the enormous range of motion a tall lifter has to travel in doing a squat, it’s often his aerobic capacity that fails before his anaerobic capacity. In other words, his lungs will give out before his quads. When a tall guy does ten squats, he’s done a helluva’ lot of work. In other words, he’s moved the weight a great distance �?? considerably more than a shorter guy using the same weight. As such, the bar is often racked prematurely.

While this is true of the leg press, too, a tall lifter doesn’t have to worry so much about failure because he can use his hands as “spotters.” When he fails, he can simply use his hands and arms to push on the knees for a few more reps.

Besides, as is true of many other movements, the squat poundage a lifter uses is limited by what he can drive out of the hole (the midway point of the squat) and in the tall lifter, because of those long femur bones, the weight is often severely limited. As such, the weight or resistance isn’t enough to cause hypertrophy. However, by using the hands to push on the knees during a leg press to “keep on going,” the tall lifter can at least partially overcome the limitations of his long femur bones.

Take home message: Don’t dismiss the leg press.

[/quote]

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