Leg Presses Won’t do SQUAT


Heh, get it? 😆  Leg presses won’t do squat! That also means, “Leg press won’t do; so you must squat”.

We all know that squats are badass and we know that squatting regularly can cause general increase in mass since it puts the whole body under duress. And I think we all agree that squats are superior compared to any compound leg exercise.

However when you walk to any gym you will see many lifters in their leg day lining up for the only leg press machine in the gym while completely ignoring the squats. What a shame.

What they don’t know is that squatting is by far more effective than leg presses in producing growth and increasing strength. Yes leg presses are great supplementary work for quads but squats should NEVER be sacrificed in favor of leg presses if growth and muscle gains is your goal BUT you can certainly sacrifice leg presses for squats, yes!

First off squats would place the highest in terms of CNS involvement and we all know that higher CNS involvement means the body would invest more adaptive response which means MORE GROWTH. Furthermore researches conclude that squats stimulate a more favorable hormonal response compared to your leg presses that it’s almost a NO contest.

To add to that, a study using EMG scanning showed that squats caused better quadriceps activation compared to leg presses. Reference: 5.James, M., Ivesdal, H., Mohr, T., & Frappier, J. (n.d.). An EMG Comparison Study of a Leg Press and a Squat Lift. School of Medicine & Health Sciences | University of North Dakota. Retrieved May 1, 2010, from http://www.med.und.edu/depts/pt/PT%20 Website/research/Plyo3/LegPressvsSquat.htm

And to make things better – squats activate other muscle, especially your core – which means that squats would burn MORE CALORIES. At top of that progress in squats would be highly transferable to sports and other activities.

The stronger you get in squatting the stronger you will be on the leg presses HOWEVER the reverse of that is NOT true; stronger leg pressing doesn’t translate to stronger squatting. In fact Brian Dobson (owner of Metroflex gym) states that his daughter can leg press 800 pounds but can hardly squat 115.

But lifters, let that not to say that you should NEVER do leg presses, in fact I do leg presses and squats in the same day when I train legs. But what we are saying is that you must always prioritize squats over leg presses. A good rule of the thumb would be:

Leg presses require twice the volume and intensity that you do with the squats to produce the same growth response.

Well, that rule is not written in stone as it is not based on actual research but with just collective experience; and the fact that squats and leg presses involve different bodily dynamics so it may as well be comparing apples to oranges, or apples to tomatoes but you get the point.

That just means that in doesn’t take much for squats to be effective, in fact straight sets with squats every leg day can already induce a growth stimulus. You would rarely need to do drop sets and intensity techniques for squats to work and that is a good thing.

But this Classic Vertical unsupported Leg Press lift that you see below, (courtesy of Ed Zercher) is a whole different ANIMAL (which would require an animal or a monster like him)! Basically the 45 degree leg presses that we have today ain’t got nothing compared to the old vertical leg presses. If your gym has vertical leg presses then lucky you!

zercher unsupported vertical legpress

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On the other hand, leg presses are your perfect candidate to do those intensity techniques safely since your legs are fixed on a fixed plane of movement and it is easier to add and removes plates and you can spot yourself – by pushing your knees with your hand – so it is safe to reach for failure even if you don’t have a spotter standing by.

Rest pauses, drop sets, and two up one down’s are just some of the techniques that you can safely do with leg presses. I usually just do 3-4 straight sets of squats for at least 12 reps each and then I proceed to leg presses to do my high intensity technique for the leg day. After that I can already go to the leg curl machine since squats would also have worked out my hamstrings already anyways. But sometimes if I’m in the mood I’d superset stiff leg deads with lying leg curls. After that I’d do a couple of sets of either standing calf raise or seated calf raise and then that’s it for legs!

BTW please comment below – which do you prefer: squats or leg presses? Eat your eggs, people!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
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11 thoughts on “Leg Presses Won’t do SQUAT

    1. Kettle bells are actually classic conditioning techniques and are great especially for training explosive power and will help you train transferring force from your hips. So my verdict? YES! Any exercise that use kettlebells are worth trying indeed. Check out USAWA’s take on this

  1. Thanks. I use kettle and club bells both. I am mostly a calisthenics guy but have done standard lifting for years.

  2. Thanks for the great links! I’ve been doing vacuums for a while now, I’ve even got my own variation. Try this sometime: vacuum normally, then flex your abs forward so they pop out, they should make a faint crunching sound.

    Eggs? I get ’em straight from the chickens!

    1. “Eggs Straight from chickens”

      -That’s the best form! You skip the dirty transportation and you’re sure that your eggs are fertilized naturally – where you’re sure that they contain folistatin – and folistatin can also reduce myostatin.

      “Try this sometime: vacuum normally, then flex your abs forward ”
      Sure makes it TWICE as painful
      and TWICE as EFFECTIVE!!
      Good one,
      I will write an article about that next week if that’s alright with you.
      Thanks and Eat your eggs!!

  3. Everything on here is all right with me Sir, I am sure I am not the first to do it. In fact, I’m doing it right now. Anyone who is online for more than 10 minutes a day should do them. I am online about 2-3 hours per day and have gotten great stomach workouts during that time in precisely this way.

  4. Pingback: Quora

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