Squats v. Leg Press and Variety

Today was leg day. My joints have been hurting like crazy and for some reason lunges have been making my knees feel bad. Yes, yes, I’m sure form has something to do with it. I should probably book a session with one of the trainers to review form. I do it in front of a mirror, but back when I was rehabbing my ACL, my PT did say that I have a tendency to bad form in lunges.

So, since it hurt when I did that, I stopped doing that.

But, I like to have a couple of exercise per muscle group, and no power on earth is gonna get me to do open chain exercises for my quads like leg extensions[1]. So, the next best option was the leg press <hawk/ptui!>

Now, in reality, the leg press is not bad. Really it’s not. If you have back trouble, balance issues or what have you, the leg press is a far safer alternative to the squats that still gives you a challenging lift. I think where the leg press contempt sometimes comes in among some weight trainers is when people try to brag about what they can do on the leg press and think it compares to a back squat.

Friends, it doesn’t!

In my workout today, I was squatting four sets of eight reps with seventy-five pounds on my back. That got me sweaty, heart pounding and gasping for air (real bodybuilders feel free to laugh, ya smug jerks!). When I got to the leg press, I was using 185lbs for the same reps and sets. I possibly could have actually done my body weight, but I was tired and in the interests of Rule One, chose not to.

The leg press numbers look more impressive, but they’re apples and oranges. The lifts are meant to do accomplish two different goals. Squatting is for “real world” application. It’s a motion we humans perform all the time, from sitting in a chair to squatting down to pick up something[2].  Challenging those muscles and performing that range of motions help you in your daily routine.  However, spot work is a good supplement to round out a workout.  I like free weights, compound exercises and Olympic lifts best, I really do.  But mixing it up is good training.

And can help prevent injury.

[1] (Open chain exercises hurt my delicate widdle knees).

[2] You do squat down rather than bend over, right?  Please tell me you do.  It protects your back.

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