Squats vs. Leg Press

For the record, I HATE squats.  Always have, always will. Now, when I’m done doing my sets, I love ’em. But just thinking about them on that workout day makes me cringe.

The squat is truly the most all-encompassing resistance exercise there is. Nothing is better in terms of the amount of your body you use in that one exercise.

Because so many things are happening, it’s exhausting. Which is why I hate them.  Deep down, I’m a lazy person. I don’t want exhausting and the squat exhausts me!

Yesterday I’m at the gym and it’s squats day. I’m like, man, oh man, I really, REALLY don’t feel like doing squats today. When suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, the leg press machine catches me.

I used to do the leg press back in my college days before I knew what weightlifting is really all about and it was always pretty easy.    So, I say, “let’s give that try today. Just to ‘diversify’ my routine.”  Uh huh. I really wanted to on the leg press to diversify my routing, not to avoid doing something I can’t stand.

I get on the machine and am knocking out decent weight. I start throwing more and more on there. I’m up to 4 plates of 45 on each side and a 25 too. That’s 410 pounds.  I know I can do more too, as I’m knocking out 5 rep sets, with some resistance but nothing even close to how squats kill me.

When I’m under the squat bar, I’m doing at MOST 315 of 5 reps for 5 sets. I’ve done that once. I can probably do it again but it’s exhausting. Thus I’m at 295 now, 6 sets of 5 reps and I don’t like doing that even.

But why can I do so much more on the leg press? I mean that is serious difference in pounds. 410 vs. 295!

After reading this article, I know see why:

Leg press puts almost all the emphasis on the quads allowing you to really blast those muscles.  Squats have emphasis on so many parts, each part is working in unison, it’s just harder to get as much weight up.

This article says if you want to blast the quads, well, the leg press if for you.  But if you want full body exercise squats are the way to go, even if it’s significantly less weight.

I happen to think there might be something else going on here as well.

I’m about 200 pounds or so, 5’9″.  In squat, the entirety of my body is dropping close to the ground and going back up.  I’m not only squatting the weight on my back, but I’m pushing up my own body weight too for nearly 4 feet or so.

That has to add something to the resistance. I don’t know how much that would be in pure weight but to move one’s body down and up again has resistance to it.  Add some weight on the bar and you’re just adding to the resistance.

Ultimately, while it was pretty cool putting up over 400 pounds it was just vanity on my part.  Squats are just a much better exercise, even if it doesn’t make me feel so good about myself with all that weight on the machine. I’m getting a better work out in across my entire body.

Moral of the story…Stick with the squats. Once in a while, blast your quads if you’re so inclined but not in lieu of your squat regime.

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