Leg Press vs squat is a comparison you’ll always hear workout lovers arguing about. But why argue? Definitely, because we all want the most comfortable way that brings the best benefits. Your legs comprise of a variety of muscles that help carry the entire body around. In addition, very few exercises are done without the help of your legs. What does that tell you? That taking care of your leg muscles is essential. Besides, there are many joints in the legs that need some workout to function correctly. Squat is traditionally the most practiced and the earliest exercise. But does that mean it is the Best? Let’s find out.
As I said, Leg press vs Squat is a common debate. However, if you want to take part or want to know more, it’s better to explore them separately before you jump into the debate of Leg press vs Squat. Because of lack of popularity and the fact that it uses resistance machine, leg press is looked down at by most workout lovers. Those who spend a lot of time in the gym doing hard exercises deem it as ineffective. Working in a constant movement pattern using a resistance machine helps in isolating the muscle you want to train.
In most gym centers you’ll find two types of leg press machines. In one of them, you have to sit straight and bend your legs as you rest on a horizontal plate. Straighten your legs as you push your body from the plate. Before exercising on this machine, you should choose the suitable weight and put a pin on the weight stack.
In the other type, you need to sit in a way that your legs rest on a platform that is above your head. Then try to straighten your legs. The leg press machine should first be loaded with weight plates.
You can use whichever machine you feel comfortable. Leg press workout aims to stimulate muscles such as glutes, hamstrings, and quads to their utmost potential.
How to Use
Put your feet comfortably on the pad and let them be shoulder-width apart. Your toes should have a small outward angle to prevent them from pointing forward. If you want to target the glutes, then put your feet on the pad above. If the target is on the quad muscle growth, then put your feet to the bottom.
Release the handles of the leg press as you straighten your legs. Your lower part of the body should be firmly set to the seat. It helps in minimizing any form of strain on your lower back. In addition, it keeps the leg press on the glutes.
Lower your legs to the chest to keep your feet set. Be careful not to push your knees away from your chest. Press your legs up again and avoid fully locking your legs at the knee to help maintain your quads muscular tension and prevents knee injury.
Leg Press Pros
Best For Beginners
The leg press is best for beginners or those healing from an injury because they enable movement in a specific pattern. You require mastering a particular move before upgrading to a more advanced one, such as dumbbell and barbell leg lifts.
Isolating Specific Muscles
Sometimes you may not want to work on all muscles but a specific one. Leg press is the best because it can target a particular muscle.
The Risk of Injury is minimal
Moreover, you can lift heavy weight to maximize the growth of the targeted muscle and still be safe.
Ease of Adjustment
Furthermore, you can easily adjust the weight you want to lift.
Leg Press Cons
These resistance machines don’t engage the essential stabilizing muscles. Meaning that using them instead of free weights can result in injury and muscular imbalance.
Some Muscles Not Engaged
The leg press targets the muscles on the lower body but not the crucial ones such as the small muscles of the hips, ankles, and knees.. Therefore, all round joint and muscle stability, as well as body strength is not possible.
Let’s explore Squatting before join the debate of Leg press vs. Squat. If you want a compound exercise movement, then look no further from squats. Most fitness instructors recommend this workout to beginners as one of those exercises they should learn before anything else. Squats don’t just target specific muscles but all muscle.
How to Squat
If you want to have a strong body, then integrate squat in all your exercises. Even if you need to shed off some weight, this is one workout that will never disappoint. Besides its movements are more like your daily functional movements. Below are steps of performing a basic squat.
Breathe in as you attempt to sit down. Push back your butts.
Your back should remain straight. Your shoulder and chest should be up, and the spine should remain neutral. In fact, the chest, shoulders, and butt will control the position of the spine
Continue squatting and ensure your knees and feet remain in line
Keep going downwards until when your hips reach a lower place than your knees. Don’t move your feet and your butts should maintain at a back position, I mean you push them backward.
The good news about squatting is that you don’t have to have a machine to perform. You can do it anywhere you feel comfortable including at home.
Pros of Squatting
Aside from feeling some pain on the thigh after squatting, especially if you’re a beginner, many people don’t’ understand the benefits of this exercise. However, the question is, are there any advantages of squatting? Find out.
Enhances Blood Circulation
Squatting regularly helps in stretching the muscles thus improving the blood and nutrients circulation all over the body. Without this circulation, you cannot have a healthy body.
It enhances fluid circulation in the body. In addition, it improves the functions of the small and large intestines.
Helps in Weight Loss
If some of the reason for engaging in the workout is to burn some fat, then squat is the exercise to go for. A lot of calories and fat is lost during this exercise. Moreover, the more you engage in this exercise, the more resilient you will become. Besides, you will be able to perform other tedious workouts.
Strengthens the Knees
Probably you have ever experienced some fatigue on your knees and inability to walk or run fast. I have. The best workout to help reduce some of these health issues is squatting. It will make the knees more flexible by enabling blood and oxygen circulation
A squat is Cost Effective
This type of workout does not need a machine or any special equipment. Furthermore, you don’t have to go to the gym; you can perform it anywhere even at home. Therefore, it will save you money and time. In addition, you don’t need to pay an instructor. All you need is to master some steps.
Improves Your Body’s Posture
Squat works the muscles of the entire body and not some parts. In addition, your upper body has to maintain a straight posture during the whole exercise. The butts should be pushed backward. What I mean is that if you often engage in this exercise, you will have a straight posture. Your walking style will change, and you will have a healthy body.
It Causes No Back Injury
Most workouts cause pain and injury on your back. However squat improves the health of your back and reduces pain.
Cons of Squats
Over-training can be Cause Health Problems
Too much of everything is dangerous, and squat is no exception. If you over exercise the muscles, there is a high possibility of hurting them. As a result, you will experience pain which may take some time to heal.
Requires Increased Safety
You need to take extra care when lifting heavy weights during the exercise to avoid injuries.
Bad Form is Risky
Ensure that you follow all the instruction. Bad form can cause injury and pain to your entire body.
Squat vs. Leg Press: When to Use Which Workout
Let’s find out.
When to Use Leg Press
- You’re too Weak to Squat
Squatting is tedious and requires that you use some energy. If for some reasons such as a health condition you can’t squat then the best alternative is a leg press. It will provide you with the same result, and you won’t have to use much energy.
- You Require Extra Support
The machine will help in positioning your back and leg as you exercise your quadriceps. For example, it has a padded backrest that provides proper posture and also gives support to your back. In addition, the leg press machines provide hand rest where you put your hand as your legs exercise. What it means is that the chances of injury are quite few.
- You Need to Lose Weight
You need to load it with more weight and do many reps in 25 seconds and repeat for over 9 times. Push yourself without care of your form because the machine is set and chances of injuring yourself are few.
When to Use Squats
- Exercising to Become Functional
Studies show that squats strengthen your entire body and make you better at all activities. If you are an athlete, then you’re likely to succeed in all your games. And even if you want to have a healthy body, this is the workout for you.
- Want to Work all Your Muscles
As discussed above, unlike leg press which targets specific muscle, squats work all muscles in your body. If you want to work all the muscles at once, then squat is the best workout. It will ensure that all muscles are strong enough to function well.
- If your Goal is Getting Huge
Though you will find some bodybuilders on the leg press, the most famous ones such as Ronnie Coleman know the secret in squatting and use it religiously. No better way of bodybuilding can beat squats so if you want to become huge practice it often.
- You Want to Improve Your Strength
Squats comprise many ups and downs which forces your core to work extra hard to avoid injury and retain your upright posture. If you want to develop your six-pack, then squat will be an excellent choice.
Leg Press vs. hack Squat
We have discussed at length on conventional squats and leg press. If you don’t want to use the tedious conventional squats you can choose to do hack squat using hack machines. But the question is – hack squat vs leg press which one will build bigger legs? Both of them use machines so it is best if we would discuss squat machine as we have discussed leg machine here above.
The first step is putting your back’s torso on your machines back pad. Also, place your shoulders on the shoulder pads given.
Using a medium stance with a shoulder width, put your legs on the platform. Your toes should point out slightly. You should keep your head up at all times.
Put your arms on the machines side handle and remove the safety bars by moving the handles on the side to a diagonal position.
Now put your legs straight and don’t lock your knees. This is your beginning position.
Slowly, start lowering by bending your knees and at the same time maintain your straight posture as your head remains up and the back on the pad. Continue going down until the legs, and the calves have an angle of below 80 degrees.
Finally, start raising the unit as you breathe out by pushing the heel as you straighten your legs and go back to your starting point.
Then repeat the process for the number of times recommended or until you feel comfortably worked.
Hack Squat vs. Leg Press: Which One Should You Use
So now, the question still remains; leg press vs hack squat press, which one is the best to use? I think your goals will determine the most suitable machine and workout type to use.
For example, if your goal is to build your legs, then the two machines will work equally well. However, factoring on your potential to grow and the furthest each workout is likely to take you is far more essential.
If the leg press has a weight stack of only 300 lb, it means you will go beyond that weight after some time, and the machine will be of little use to you, which means that the leg press will be suitable for beginners.
You want to get to your natural limits. Yes! But safely! If you have weak knees and hips, for example, then leg press can be a good choice for you. If your glutes and back are weak somehow, then a hack squat can work well for you.
Leg press, conventional squats, and hack squats are all essential workout for you. You understand yourself better than anyone, and you know your goals. From the information provided, you can almost identify which exercise will bring the best result for you. So, squat vs leg press is not a dilemma for you now.