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  1. #1
    Registered User Anthony79's Avatar
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    Question Leg Presses vs. Squats?

    Basically, I can do squats, but I have some lower back issues that flare up periodically and I feel a little more secure on the semi-vertical leg press machine at the gym. I've always read that any leg workout (or lower body workout for that matter) should start with and be centered around full barbell squats. I can do these, but to relieve the stress on my lower back, leg presses might be the better long-term option. So my question..... as for muscle growth and strength development, is there much of a drop off going to a semi-vertical leg press machine versus doing full squats? Thanks.
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    I've personally noticed better and faster muscle growth using squats; they're my favorite exercise. Alot of people both squat and leg press. They're both good exercises, but if I had to choose one I would go with squats. Since you have occasional lower back flare ups and feel better on the leg press then just go with that for now. Mabye try strenghening your lower back with exercises like deadlifts.

    I would try to throw squats in every now and then though; don't give up 'em.
    Last edited by revenant; 03-15-2008 at 09:22 AM.
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    Registered User newequation's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Anthony79 View Post
    Basically, I can do squats, but I have some lower back issues that flare up periodically and I feel a little more secure on the semi-vertical leg press machine at the gym. I've always read that any leg workout (or lower body workout for that matter) should start with and be centered around full barbell squats. I can do these, but to relieve the stress on my lower back, leg presses might be the better long-term option. So my question..... as for muscle growth and strength development, is there much of a drop off going to a semi-vertical leg press machine versus doing full squats? Thanks.
    Leg presses cant touch squats, they work your entire body. You should look into correcting your form, strengthening your lower back and other things you can do to help that situation.
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  4. #4
    Not age..it's the mileage taf1968's Avatar
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    I have been doing both my last few workouts . . . I have bad knees and really heavy squats just make them ache. So I have been starting leg days with leg press and going heavy on them (don't ask me why, but they don't bug my knees as much) and then I follow with 3 - 4 sets of lighter, higher rep squats.
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    Originally Posted by newequation View Post
    Leg presses cant touch squats, they work your entire body. You should look into correcting your form, strengthening your lower back and other things you can do to help that situation.
    Sorry for this sudden question and for interrupting but do squats really work your ENTIRE body? can u please explain in more detail..thanks!
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    Registered User Anthony79's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jerkamania View Post
    Sorry for this sudden question and for interrupting but do squats really work your ENTIRE body? can u please explain in more detail..thanks!
    Oh, I have to agree. If there is one exercise that leaves me FULLY exhausted after I do them, it's the full squat. Sure, deadlifts can have the same effect, but something about squats works your entire body and requires lots of exertion. I can do 3x the weight on a leg press machine than I can in a squat rack. That's because, as I mentioned, your lower back is involved, your abs are involved. Your glutes and hamstrings are also more involved than on a leg press machine.

    I suppose I am wondering if there is a 3x drop-off going to leg press from squats. Probably is.. I don't want to give up on squats, but if I hurt my lower back, I'm out of commission for at least a week in the gym.
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    Talking

    Originally Posted by Anthony79 View Post
    Oh, I have to agree. If there is one exercise that leaves me FULLY exhausted after I do them, it's the full squat. Sure, deadlifts can have the same effect, but something about squats works your entire body and requires lots of exertion. I can do 3x the weight on a leg press machine than I can in a squat rack. That's because, as I mentioned, your lower back is involved, your abs are involved. Your glutes and hamstrings are also more involved than on a leg press machine.

    I suppose I am wondering if there is a 3x drop-off going to leg press from squats. Probably is.. I don't want to give up on squats, but if I hurt my lower back, I'm out of commission for at least a week in the gym.
    thanks man for the answer...repped !
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    Registered User dbp's Avatar
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    If you are having lower back issues with the back squat, try doing front squats for a while. I find since your torso stays more upright, there's less stress on the lower back.
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    Under Construction unity's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by dbp View Post
    If you are having lower back issues with the back squat, try doing front squats for a while. I find since your torso stays more upright, there's less stress on the lower back.
    agreed. also i prefer a more oly style squat, with the bar up high and you being in a more upright position. strengthening the lower back with deads, SLDL, or possibly hyperextensions if necessary. of course, on the flip side, maybe your back just needs a break.

    also, i think a lot of people mistake lower back pain for problems in the lower back. the muscles in that area will get sore from working out just like the rest of your body. it just happens to suck more. not saying that you are making this mistake, just throwing it out there for you to think on.
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    Registered User jsartain's Avatar
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    I have lower back problems as well from an injury years ago. It got so bad that it would sometimes wake me up in my sleep. I remember a time I through my back out sitting up right after bench pressing. I still don't know how that happened. My situation may different than yours, but I took and used good advice from my chiropractor. At first I thought I shouldn't work out my back much because I might make it worse, and he told me the opposite.

    Basically for me, the stronger my back gets, the less problems I have with it. What I did was use PERFECT form and use light weights to slowly build my back muscles up. While for upper body I did heavy weight and low reps, for squats and deadlifts(and a few others) I did low weight and high reps until I built my back muscles up. Now, I do heavy weights and low reps but I wouldn't have gotten there if I hadn't taken it real slow. I also have a lot less pain in my lower back.

    I'd recommend doing squats but using a comfortable weight and slowly building on that. Hope that helps.
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  11. #11
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    Originally Posted by dbp View Post
    If you are having lower back issues with the back squat, try doing front squats for a while. I find since your torso stays more upright, there's less stress on the lower back.
    Absolutely. I had a lower back issue a few weeks ago (possibly nerve impingement) and the ONLY exercise I was left unable to do was squats. (ie. heavy SLDs didn't bother it... 40kg Good Mornings didn't bother it... but 40kg squats DID). So I am now doing front squats. I LOVE the exercise. Virtually no lower back strain.

    Properly performed Front Squats and a deadlift variation, along with leg curls, will work all the major musculature of the thighs. Back squats may be more IDEAL for many, but don't get wrapped up in thinking that they're completely irreplaceable.

    Leg Presses give good results for many, but they may not build strength that transfers to the squat. Front Squats and a DL variation will build that strength in the thighs.

    Originally Posted by unity View Post
    agreed. also i prefer a more oly style squat, with the bar up high and you being in a more upright position. strengthening the lower back with deads, SLDL, or possibly hyperextensions if necessary. of course, on the flip side, maybe your back just needs a break.

    also, i think a lot of people mistake lower back pain for problems in the lower back. the muscles in that area will get sore from working out just like the rest of your body. it just happens to suck more. not saying that you are making this mistake, just throwing it out there for you to think on.
    If the pain isn't muscular, it's a problem.
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    Under Construction unity's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Duckenheimer View Post
    If the pain isn't muscular, it's a problem.
    of course. however, my point was that a lot of people i have known will have soreness in thier lower back after doing exercises that target that area. then they get scared because they think they are damaging thier back. they think because it doesnt feel like "arm soreness" then it cant be sore muscle. so they ditch key exercises, and basically thier lower back doesnt really get any work. i dont think thats a good thing and i have seen a lot of people do that.
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    Try doing good mornings to help strengthen your back.
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