We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Squats are one of the best compound exercises for your lower body. A great squatting routine can drastically improve a wide range of muscles and improve overall strength.
But, how does the leg press compare? In this article, we’ll look at leg press vs squats.
Which Is Best for Beginners?
Choosing the best set of lower body workouts can be a challenging task for beginners. The squat and leg press are two of the top contenders where is this choice is concerned, since they work the dominant leg muscles. It’s common knowledge that both exercises build and work a similar muscle chain too. This is the reason that many people choose one or the other, instead of doing both.
As a beginner, you are not yet familiar with adequate technique and positioning where workouts are concerned. This applies to both exercises that use free weights and those that are done using machines. Additionally, you have likely not yet developed the kind of strength on balance that you need to do free weights exercises properly.
It’s a learning process anyway, so don’t worry about the fact that you may look like a fish out of water at the start. Some of those guys who are pros in the gym looked just as hopeless initially.
Not knowing how to apply the proper technique is much easier to deal with than lacking strength and balance. Therefore, it is best for a beginner to begin the lower body journey on the leg press machine.
The squat is an exercise that requires balance, strength, and technique. Also, the weight is continuously supported by your body, and the exercise is one that works many more muscles than just those in your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. For example, the squat works your core, and it does require adequate core strength to perform enough reps.
The leg press, on the other hand, works exclusively on the leg muscles mentioned above. Additionally, you all but put yourself into an optimal position as soon as you get onto the leg press machine. Provided you do not overload the machine or extend and lock your legs as you push the way it’s upward, the risk is not so high.
Therefore, it’s best for a beginner to strengthen the leg muscles with the leg press and to get in some core exercises before jumping into the squats.
As you progress and become more proficient at the exercises, you can then change your approach. This may mean implementing both exercises and even choosing to leave one out of your workout routine entirely.
Which Is Best for Muscles Worked?
This is another consideration when choosing which of these exercises to implement in your workout regime. Doing so allows you to effectively plan your workouts, as you consider the other supporting exercises you may need to do.
It’s hard to definitively say which of the two is best, based on the muscles that are worked. This is because the meaning of what’s best, in this case, differs from one person to another.
For example, many persons categorized the best as the workout that works the most muscles. If this is the case for you, then your best bet would be to go for the squats. Three of the muscles that the squats target were mentioned above. Additionally, your shoulders, lats, core, and hips, all stand to benefit from squat movements.
There is also a measure of muscle-building benefits from variations that the squats offer. There are front squats, back squats, hack squats, etc., which can all be used to work all these muscles in different proportions and from different angles.
There’s no disputing that squats do more, but the best exercise for you may be the one that allows you to target the leg muscles only. This could be because you have put together a workout program that adequately targets the others. In such an instance, the squat’s subsequent targeting of same could lead to an imbalance.
Bear in mind that you can also modify the leg press to place even greater emphasis on the way that the muscles are worked. If you should place your feet lower, for example, you reduce the range of motion that your knees have. This means that your quads need to work harder to keep the movement flowing.
Leg Press Vs Squat Weight
Choosing the weight that you intend to use for a set of reps is an essential consideration. That’s because your choice should directly reflect whatever goal it is you want to achieve.
For example, if your intention is to get stronger consistently, then it’s best to regularly squat with weights that challenge the limits of your ability. Always using the empty bar clearly won’t get you anywhere. That is unless your goal is not to progress at all.
There is still the matter of what a lot of weight looks like doing squats versus what it looks like doing the leg press. The distinction between the two is like night and day because of the positioning and the way that each works.
When you squat, your body must support all the weight, even in a resting position. Your legs, shoulders, and back must all be able to cooperatively handle the weight as you lift it from the rack. Additionally, your legs must push the full weight against gravity for you to return to a standing position after squatting down.
This is not the case on the leg press machine. While there is a similar up and down motion, the way the weight is supported is quite different. The combination of where the weights are placed, your position, and the machine’s movement mechanism makes all the difference.
In short, the weight you load and the weight you push are very different. The latter is always less. That’s because the machine supports a portion of it.
For this reason, when persons squat and when they leg press, the weight used for each tends to differ drastically. For example, someone who can squat 405 pounds, may find that it is possible to leg press upwards of 600 pounds.
Now you know why people seem to be able to push such insane amounts of weight in those leg press videos all over the Internet.
Extended Reading on Leg Press
If you want to read more about the leg press, check out the following: