Hardcore lifters have accepted the squat as the one and only king of lower body training and refuse to believe in anything else. As a result, the leg press has always been considered the “coward’s choice” when it comes to leg training. It’s not unusual to see radical squat lovers making fun of peoplе who leg press. However, as you already know, there are two sides to every story.
Regardless of fear, I am going to say something that may be a little hard to accept if you’re a squat fanatic – the leg press can replace the squat… in some situations.
The leg press is a compound close chain exercise that can build some serious leg strength and mass.
The biggest downside of the leg press is its “sterile nature”. It simpler terms – it’s a boring movement.
However, the leg press is still a solid leg strengthener often used by cyclists and skaters. Similarly to cycling and skating, the leg press allows you to place stress on the lower body without limitation from the back or legs. If you look from the side, the leg press mimics the cycling motion, albeit only to a certain degree.
In addition, people with long legs often experience disappointing results from regular squats expressed in large hips and small legs. In a similar situation, the leg press can save the day by allowing you to focus specifically on your legs.
Note: The leg press is a dangerous exercise. If the machine you’re using does not have safety catchers, you may find yourself squeezed by the heavy sled.
Moreover, the leg press could be a back killer. When you perform the exercise with a large range of motion, your lower back can round. This places an unnecessary stress on the spinal ligaments. To reduce the possibility of similar scenarios, reduce the range of motion. However, don’t go to the other extreme. 1/8th reps are not accepted either.
Another potential weak link would be the knees. People often place their feet too low on the leg press pad and allow the heels to come up at the bottom. Don’t do that. The exercise would be easier on your knees if you place your feet higher on the pad.
But Mark Rippetoe says that the leg press is a gay movement? Should I do it?
The leg press is by no means a sexy exercise. However, it’s the approach that matters. There are plenty of people performing squats in a fashion that would be considered gay – light weight, half reps, buckled in knees…etc.
If you put in the effort, you will see results from almost any movement. If the leg press fits the bill for you, do it.
Think for a second. Training your upper body while lying on a bench is considered fine, but training your legs without limitation from the upper body is considered “gay”. Where’s the logic behind this statement?
Can I reach my genetic potential with the leg press?
Yes, it’s possible. Technically, the exercise allows for an endless progression.
How many reps should I do?
Try to do a higher number of reps – above 5. There is no need to max out on the leg press.
– The leg press is a scalable compound exercise that works the legs pretty hard.
– Taller guys can benefit from the leg press because their squats are often hip dominant.
– When doing the leg press, you need a spotter/safety catchers. Don’t allow your lower back to round.
– To avoid knee pain and discomfort place your knees higher on the pad. Keep your heels planted.
– Don’t perform low reps. There’s no need to do powerlifting work on the leg press.
– The leg press is often used solely as an assistance exercise, but it could be your main leg strengthener too.
– The leg press is a fine exercise, but it does not develop great athleticism compared to squats and sprinting. However, it’s not supposed to.