Squats vs Leg Press

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The squat, known as the granddaddy of all bodybuilding exercises, simultaneously works more major muscles than any other resistance-training movement. The quadriceps (quads), hamstrings and gluteus maximus (glutes) are specifically targeted, while the hip and torso muscles are incorporated for stabilization and to assist the primary muscles. You can see why many experts in weight training consider the squat to be a whole-body exercise, even though you utilize it as a lower-body move.

Stabilizer muscles are smaller—and often less visible—muscles called upon during free-weight exercises to provide support and prevent unwanted movement. To perform the squat safely and effectively, the abdominal muscles (including the rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques and the transverse abdominis) and spinal erectors of the lower back contract isometrically to hold the torso in place as movement occurs at the hips and knees. Likewise, the hip muscles contract to hold the hip girdle stationary, allowing only the desired movement (hip flexion and extension).

The squat range of motion (ROM) about the knee and hip joints is relatively large. Increased ROM translates into greater muscle activation and ultimately into superior muscle development. In particular, the wide ROM at the hip is what notably differentiates the squat from the leg press.

LEG PRESS BENEFITS
Leg press apparatus provides proper positioning and safety.

Maximal weight can be used to overload the target muscle group (quads).

Minimal stabilizer and assistant muscle involvement increases emphasis on the quads.

Limited involvement of glutes and hamstrings leads to concentrated quad development.

Foot plate allows you to shift the emphasis on the leg muscles by changing foot position.

SQUAT BENEFITS
Greater hip range of motion (ROM) enhances hamstring and glute development.

Increased stabilizer and assistant muscle involvement improves overall strength and mass.

Hip adductor (inner thigh) involvement contributes to overall leg size.

No specialized equipment or apparatus required.

More bang for the buck: You target several leg and torso muscles with one exercise.

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The Truth about Squats

By definition, a full squat is just below parallel, where the hip joint is lower than the knee joint. At the bottom of the squat, if you were to put a marble on your thigh, it should roll down towards your hip — not your knee.

In actuality, most people perform half squats or quarter squats (referring to the range of motion) for various reasons. Some can’t due to mobility issues, while others simply resist because they claim squatting to full depth is “bad for your knees and back.”

Fortunately, we can look to science — specifically a recent study published in the journal Sports Medicine1 — for a definitive ruling on the squat depth debate.

Researchers essentially did a review of all current literature on knee and back health, as it pertains to squat depth at various loads. The researchers reviewed a total of 164 articles and found some very interesting data. Not only are full depth squats not dangerous, they actually cause less stress on your knee joint and spine. “When compared with half and quarter squats, in the deep squat [less] knee joint and spinal joint stress can be expected.”

“Not only are full depth squats not dangerous, they actually cause less stress on your knee joint and spine.”

Noted in Scientific Study —

Supportive tissue (ligaments and tendons) will adapt to increased loads, and concerns about degenerative changes in the knee are unfounded.

At the turning point of a half squat, there is more compressive stress on the knee and a smaller support surface for the quadriceps tendon (when compared with a full squat).

Full squats do not have any negative effect on the stability of knee ligaments.

The spine adapts to squat training by A) increasing bone mineral density, increasing tensile strength of ligaments, and C) strengthening back muscles — this contributes to a protective effect.

When half squatting, a significantly greater load is necessary to create the same training stimulus (when compared to the full squat) — this requires MORE compressive force on the back and knee to produce the same effect.

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Leg Workout That Actually Works Your Legs

Functional-Legs

I use Overload in order to train my legs into big, solid, lean, functional legs.
This Leg Workout I designed was meant to help me build up my legs, for power, size and strength.
Here is my leg routine, I call it the 6-6-6 leg workout.
Its easy, simple to remember and it actually works!
6 sets, 6 reps, and 60 second recovery between sets.

6 sets Squats
6 sets Dead lifts
6 sets Standing Calve Raises

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Importance Of Building Your Legs

Brunoslegs

On an average day at your local gym, if you take a look around you will notice that the majority of lifters are working their upper bodies, and not doing leg workouts. The fact is, most people focus on building up their upper bodies whilst neglecting their lower half.

The main reason for this is that your leg muscles aren’t really “showy” and everyone would rather work on having a large chest, arms, and shoulders that everyone can notice. Come on, let’s be honest here, have you ever heard a girl ask a guy to flex his quads? Didn’t think so. Upper bodies always get the attention.

Sure, working your arms, shoulders, chest, back and so on is great. But while everyone is training their upper bodies hard, leg workouts are neglected, skipped, or are even non-existent in some lifter’s routines.

People come up with all sorts of reasons as to why they don’t train their legs properly. Excuses such as “squats are bad for my knees” or “I work my legs by running, cycling etc” are just that, excuses.

The mistake of avoiding hard leg training is costly, and there are two main reasons as to why. If you have a large and muscular upper body, and under-developed legs, you would look quite ridiculous. Think about it, huge pecs, bulging arms, cannonball shoulders, and a wide muscular back, sitting on top of toothpick legs. Now that’s funny-looking in anyone’s book.

The second reason to train your legs as hard as all your other muscles is even more important, yet less commonly known amongst lifters. Including hard and heavy leg workouts in your weight lifting routine will increase the size and strength of muscles all over your body. Yes that’s right, avoiding your legs will limit the amount of muscle you can build in your chest, back, shoulders and arms.

Don’t believe me? I’ll explain the truth to you.

Your muscles don’t just grow from specific exercises you do for a particular muscle. For example, your biceps don’t grow JUST from doing bicep related exercises such as bicep curls.

Your body builds muscle on another level too. When many different muscle groups are worked simultaneously, putting the majority of your body under intense stress, muscle growth occurs all over the body. Sort of like a spillover effect if you know what I mean.

How does your body do this? Because with this intense stress comes increased secretion of important muscle-building hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone. These hormones play a big part in determining how much muscle mass someone can physically gain.

And one of the best ways to increase the production of these hormones in your body is doing hard and heavy leg workouts week in and week out!

The particular leg exercises I’m talking about are of course Squats, which is perhaps the most important muscle-building exercise out of all, the leg press, lunges, deadlifts, and calf raises.

Have you noticed how stressful these leg exercises seem to be when done heavy? That’s because your legs contain the largest muscle groups on your entire body and allow you to train with very heavy weights.

The good thing about a killer leg workout is your body will produce more critical anabolic muscle-building hormones than usual, which means greater size and strength all over your body. Yes, working your legs affects your arms, chest, shoulders, and back muscles.

So if you don’t already do so, include a great leg workout in your weight training routine every week. If not for the large, strong and muscular legs you will develop, then do it for the overall gains you will experience in your upper body.

Just one more thing, don’t avoid Squats. They are such a great exercise for building mass all over your body, and can’t be replaced with any other exercise.

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Not A Very Effective Exercise For The Legs

LegPress
Inverted Leg Press:

The angle on most of these machines can cause injury due to the awkward position of the hips and spine. It is very difficult not to push the lower back into the backrest in this exercise. Doing so places stress on the disc when loaded. Additionally, straightening out the torso (as in a squat) gets full recruitment of the hamstring and butt muscles. The leg press keeps your upper body fixed, which takes this out.

Better Alternative: Squats (barbell or dumbbell)

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