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  1. #1
    Registered User Kiwikind's Avatar
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    Heavy leg press or lighter squats? Dilemna!

    My gym hasn't got a squat rack (I know, don't get me started). I love squatting but without the rack I cannot get a sufficiently heavy weight up onto my back, and I am really struggling with cleaning it up to my chest for front squats - and even when I do, the weight is far lower than if I could have done it from the rack.

    I have tried the steinborn lift but I don't feel too safe with the kind of weight I could now squat (around 95kg for 6-8 reps...yes I know I'm still weak!). I refuse to use the smith machine for squats as it kills my back. And I sometimes do Jefferson squats with the bar between my legs but this seems to put a lot of unbalanced stress on one side or the other. I could try squatting with dumbells up at shoulder height but the dumbells only go up to 45kg and I'm not sure I could hold them up there. I do intend to switch gyms as soon as I can but for now I'm stuck where I am.

    The gym does have a horizontal leg press machine. So my question is this: Would the usually limitations of the leg press machine when compared to the squat (lack of stabiliser muscle use, range of motion etc) be outweighed in this circumstance by the fact that the leg press machine would let me push far heavier weight? Or are much lighter squats still far superior to the leg press?

    Whilst I do love squats, the current set up and the fact that the maximum amount I can actually manually get up onto and off my back safely is so light that I could probably squat it all day long. Surely there's a case for saying that in the circumstances, do whatever allows you to push the most weight as overall this would be of more use? Maybe I could then do lighter squats with dumbells to finish my quads off after the leg press?

    I do stiff-leg deadlifts for hams so if there was a concern than hams would not be getting a workout on leg day if I didn't squat, it's ok as they're covered.

    Cheers all.
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  2. #2
    Monsieur McDermott 43Steelers's Avatar
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    back or front squats kills your back on the smitt machine?? if it's just when you're doing back squats then do the front squats , but i'd still keep the leg press tho..
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  3. #3
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    U have a place to do dips in ur gym?Its been suggested before,
    u can put the bar on the handles and load it there,
    the height of it should be ok too..
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    Originally Posted by ZoranM View Post
    U have a place to do dips in ur gym?Its been suggested before,
    u can put the bar on the handles and load it there,
    the height of it should be ok too..
    That's what I do and recommend (unless you're going to max out every time).

    In case you want to max out, just have a spotter stand behind you.
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    Make do with what you have. Ways you can sway emphasis on the muscles are ample.

    Leg press is a quad dominant exercise, but by placing your feet high and wide on the plate, you can get much more glute and ham involvement.

    With the smith machine you can do front squats for quads. Also, you can do back squats, just tweak form. As with the leg press, put your feet a ways in front of your (about a foot in front) and spread your stance wider. You will drastically reduce the role the quads play, and you can go very deep for lots of glute stimulation. Weight won't be much, but you should not be retching your back with this form.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Kiwikind's Avatar
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    Alright, thanks everyone.

    Regarding the dipping bars, yes they do have them although they're part of the assisted dip/pullup station. I'll ask the fitness instructors if I'd be allowed to load the bar on there. I'll argue that if it can take a persons body weight when they dip, it should be able to take an olympic bar!
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    Registered User Jneves's Avatar
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    if I was in your situation I would do leg press/SL DL and then dumbell lunges or step ups
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    If I were in your boat, I'd do Leg Press first and heavy, then maybe a few more exercises, and wait till your legs are sufficiently fatigued to "feel the pain" from squatting a weight you can clean.



    And if you want to kill yourself, you might try supersetting the Leg Press with the "power clean" squats. (makes me queasy just thinking about it though).
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  9. #9
    Custom User Title Fixxxer's Avatar
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    You guys loading your bar on the dipping station must either have very narrow shoulders or very widely spaced dip bars. I really can't picture how this would work...
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    Load on Quarters instead of 45's to keep it balanced
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    Registered User rivet0r's Avatar
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    I would personally change gyms. But to answer your question, I'm go with heavy leg pressing.
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  12. #12
    Athlete bonvec01's Avatar
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    A good alternative would be to do dumbbell split squats with your back foot elevated. These will tear your legs apart til you can switch gyms.

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    Originally Posted by Kiwikind View Post
    Regarding the dipping bars, yes they do have them although they're part of the assisted dip/pullup station. I'll ask the fitness instructors if I'd be allowed to load the bar on there. I'll argue that if it can take a persons body weight when they dip, it should be able to take an olympic bar!
    I've been doing that since 2006, bro.
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  14. #14
    Registered User Kiwikind's Avatar
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    Much appreciated everyone - thanks for the split squat suggestion Bonvec.

    Don't worry I will be changing gyms as soon as I can move back into central London, hopefully within 2 months.

    As for the dipping bars, fortunately these are the ones that you can flip to a narrow or wider apart setting which would give me more room to get in there and lift off the bar for back squats!
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