T Nation

Tall Guys - Squats vs. Leg Press

Being very tall (6’5"), getting deep into squats are exceedingly difficult for me. I recently read the “Why Lurch Won’t Grow” article and it discussed doing leg presses instead of squats as a primary mass-building exercise.

Other tall guys-- would you follow this advice? Have you? Results? Other suggestions as exceedingly tall guys, and the disadvantages that go against us when lifting?

Squats beat leg presses in terms of real world strength and functionality gains. However, if hypertrophy is your goal, leg presses have their place.

I prefer to squat, but being a tall guy (6’4"), I agree legg press can help us target the quads for hypertrophy. I went through the 20-rep squats, Bill Starr’s 5x5, both were excellent and incresed my squat number, but overall my legs stayed about the same size. I say do both! BTW, “Why Lurch Won’t Grow” is a great article for us.

I’m 6’6" and have a 28" thigh. Subsequently, I do both. So I’m not sure if one has more effect than the other. I prefer squatting.

Also, being tall may not be the reason you can’t get deep into a squat. Work on your hip and ankle mobility just like anyone else.

You shouldn’t assume because you are tall that you’ll never squat deep.

I’m 6’4" and I have found that high rep squatting (GVT, for example) is a scenario where I usually fail not because my legs are tired, but I’m just outta breath. Lower rep squats (5x5, 3x3, work up to a 1 RM) work much better. Add in high rep leg presses and you’ve got your bases covered.

Difficult to squat because your tall? I guess tall people cannot sit down, run, jump off of two feet, or pick anything up off the floor. And the old sprite commercial with copy squatting 315+chains was all digital effects. Hold up. He’s not tall he’s only 6’5. Now shaq is tall so he won’t be able to squat.

Want big legs…food->HEAVY->squats->time->minimal cardio. Or don’t have a whole lot of time, heavy volume various rep scheme leg extensions and leg curls(supposedly non-functional, but who cares if your looking for size).

Theres a very good thread on chinese ROM on here, and many authors that discuss ROM for squat. Certian countries as a whole have a tough time getting into the squatting position primarily because of their lifestyles. There are just as many average or short people that claim they can’t squat either. If your going to take the time to exercise you should try to ensure that all your joints have proper range of motion for your goals. It will help in the long run.

If your not genetically inclined for big legs it is tough to get them to grow. Even small legs can handle alot of weight and alot of volume. So you have to hit them heavy hard and in different ways if you have trouble. The problem with squatting is many people don’t have the secondary muscle strength to really work the quads and hammies. Which is why I say leg extensions and leg curls.

One last thing you can try is explosive squats, and sprints since they hit the fast twitch muscles which supposedly have alot more potential for size.

Leg press has its place but trying to squat a few times and giving up because you haven’t mastered it is self defeating.

Some people are naturally good squatters and some need more practice and training before they can perfect the movement but tall or short all humans are designed to be able to full squat. All babies naturally and easily full squat as they learn to walk and it is also the natural position that humans use for defecation.

If you are tall and have trouble it might be worth it to get some professional coaching. One effective tip is to try front squatting with a light dumb bell or weight plate. The frontal load helps stabilize an upright torso while in the deepest range of motion.

There is nothing wrong with using the leg press for your main hypertrophy building squat variation if you find it works better than free weight variations. But you should not chose the leg press because you haven’t even the basic athleticism to perform a regular full squat.

Of course if you have a legitimate medical condition preventing full squats you may be an exception but just being tall is not a sufficient reason to be unable to achieve a full squat position.

It’s not the macho thing to say, but the fact is that some people will never get much out of squats do to how they are build. It’s not a matter of pushing harder or increasing ROM, either. Their leverages are just all wrong for squatting.

If this is the case, do what works for you – not what someone who’s totally unfamiliar with you tells you to do. While they may not be in vogue with the T-Nation crowd, a good leg press machine can help. After all, it’s just a tool, so use it to your advantage.

I’m tall roughly 6’8 and it just took my longer to get my squat form down. I had some mobility issues and I couldn’t squat like some of my 5’10 friends-close together legs- I recommend using some plates under your feet as well as squating wider. Try those two things and see how it feels. No reason to try and make excuses NOT to do the real hard exercises like the squat.

Give it some more time sounds like your just starting off with squats and being taller yes it will be HARDER to get used to it, yet once you get it down its well worth it.

Oh yeah here is the sprite commercial of kobe doing 405 or so with chains http://youtube.com/watch?v=JMrDAOLfG3k he is 6’6-notice how he is kind of wide this is common for taller people, unless you have some pretty impressive balance and flexibility-

Squats can’t be beat for leg strength, power, ext ext just do them.

Yeah, I have difficulty doing squats and deadlifts. Both just feel like unnatural and unbalanced movements. I’ve read, watched and asked a fair amount of questions and although my form is certainly better than it used to be. With deadlifting, that meant putting the toes out, squatting down while keeping the back flat, and pushing through the floor with the feet rather than trying to use your back at all. With squatting, it meant getting wider in my stance. Both are improved, they just still don’t feel or look as natural as they should.

My bad. 405

Which is actually pretty damn good for basketball players. And those were reps

I’m 6’5" as well and I can still get below parallel for my squats, but like someone stated previously, I get pretty out of breath when I go for more than 8-10 reps. I like squatting for around 5 reps and then finishing off my legs with the leg press when they’re already pretty beat up from squats.

As far as deadlifts, I use the trap bar.

And the article about why lurch won’t grow was a pretty good read for me. I suggest doing 1.5’s on some exercises like the article suggets. I used to do it when benching (when I benched).

I like that ad.

But it should really be “Why do I work so hard? Because otherwise I’d be fat from drinking all this sugar water”.

To answer your question. Both have their place. I love squats (6’3") and I love leg press too. I also love walking lunges and deadlifts and romanians and power cleans. etc etc etc.

So do them all. Don’t pick just one. Concentrate on 2 or 3 per program. Give it a good 6 weeks or so. And then move on to the next.

As many have said, you want to look at mobility, balance and range of motion to become more comfortable with squatting. And ditch the close leg position. It just won’t work for most tall guys.

On a side note, what’s the point of doing exercises with chains? Like the John Cena training video where he’s close grip benching 365 with chains…why not just use weight?


tall guys can squat too.

Im relatively tall (6’1") and had alot of trouble squatting at first. I had very poor hip mobility and couldnt even squat deep doing light weight. My fix? I did lots and lots of body weight squats. Everyday while watching tv, inbetween sets, etc… Just practiced what I knew to be proper form.

I then started front squatting, using light loads. I now (6 months later) can back squat heavy amounts, ass to ankles and get one hell of a pump in my legs.

[quote]mr popular wrote:

tall guys can squat too.[/quote]

um there is no way to tell if that guy is tall, plus he is using a stupid pad-though he is doing pretty huge weights so I can’t say much-

Lanky, as you lift the weight more and more of the chain lifts off the ground, increasing the load as the rep progresses.

This way when, lets say on bench, you start to move the weight higher and higher the load is getting increasingly heavier, thus exerting more force on your triceps.

One thing to look for is the length of the persons femur. Some people (mostly tall) have very large femurs in relation to the size of the rest of their body. This can lead to such issues that the OP speaks of because uneven load distribution…

I’m 6’4" and will never use a leg press again.