Squats vs. Leg press

Is there a big advantage of squat over leg press? Or are the differences negligible? Which one causes more injuries if not performed with 100% perfect form.

BTW, if this sparks off a machines vs free-weights debate (bench vs chest press), thats good as well.

They are the exact same. Resistance is resistance.

Machines don't hit back.


When given a choice, ALWAYS select the exercise that allows more free-movement. They recruit more muscles and build strangth ina natural way.

Machines travel in a single plain, limited range of motion and dont translate as well to sports,

Oh yes! Squats has greater carry-over than leg press. In fact, improvements on squats will increase your leg press even more than the other way around.

For example, prior to when I started powerlifting, my 1RM for leg press plateaued at 450 lbs. It didn't raise my squat at all (even though I was squatting above parallel at the time -- mind you, that's roughly the same ROM on the leg press). My best "squat" at the time was just under 360 lbs. When I went on the Westside program and did box squats (about 2 inches below parallel), my "regular" squats (i.e. above parallel)jumped up almost 100 lbs in the last 8 months.

Furthermore, when I went back to doing leg press, my 1RM jumped to 810 lbs. (despite not doing leg press for well over half a year).

Hope that helps.

That's a nice anecdote.

Anybody have any scientific articles demonstrating the alleged superiority of free weights?

Well, There are two guys at my gym who load up the leg press until no more weights will fit. The leg press they use has three different places to load on weights. Of course they only move the leg press a few inches but I have yet to see them squat over 225lbs and the one guy must be close to 300lbs in bodyweight.

That's a nice anecdote.
Anybody have any scientific articles demonstrating the alleged superiority of free weights?

You're kidding right. Real world results speak a lot more than some two bit study.

The leg press is far better in all areas.

  1. You can use more weight. The more weight you use the better. When you use more weight you get stronger. Even sedentary house wives can work out with about 200 pounds or so in the leg press. So they get the benefits of lifting heavy weights.

  2. Techonology rules. The leg press is newer. The squat is old and is obsolete. The leg press was desinged by Soviet Sport Scientists. Actually the leg press was responsible for the Soviets dominance in the olympic games. The US did not start to catch up until they got their own leg press machines.

  3. The leg press is safer. It is so much safer. Danger of any kind is bad. MMA and grappling is not dangerous like the squat. The safer the better.

  4. The leg press supports your back and spine. This is so important because when doing anything in the real world your back and spine are always supported.

  5. The leg press is less taxing on the body and more effective. Therefore you can get more results from less work.

  6. Most elite athletes epsecially those of power sports: football, wrestling, track and field, strongman gravitate to the leg press. Squats are a rarity among real athletes.

Todsenney is correct as happy as I am for you Rapidassult your story is anecdotal. Just because it may be true and real life, dosent mean it works that way with other people. You must have a geeky scientist who knows nothing about strength training perform silly tests and publish them for evidence to be valid.

wreckingcrew, that is an insightful post.

What is ur stance on other machine vs freeweights, such as chest press vs. bench press, etc?

Machines are better because they are newer.

Oh dude that post was alot of sarcasm. I was just joking. Sorry. Want to know why it was all sarcasm and fluff here i ll give you some good links.

For real the squat is the real deal with strength training.

Squat, deadlift, pullups, bench press, abs, you cant go wrong.

www.elitefts.com go to articales link at the top. Then read stuff by louie simmons in particular "what a gym really needs."


There are alot more. But for now read stuff from Louie Simmons and Dr. Hatfield.

The leg press sucks for athletes.

Nicely done wreckingcrew. I particularly liked point #4.


Doesn't the squat activate the hip flexors more than leg presses? Of course to activate them you have to go deep.

".squats are absolute HELL on your back whereas leg press is definitely safer.."

Maybe if you have bad form.

Most people who leg presss seem to curl their backs at the bottom of the lift. That can cause a lot of back problems.

" BUT the biggest difference between the two is the pressure put on ones spine..squats are absolute HELL on your back whereas leg press is definitely safer.. "

LOL, most stuff that I´ve read has it the other way around...

The leg press can definetly be hard on the spine if you flex your back toward the bottom of the movement which is common.

With proper squat form and progression it should make you back stronger.


check out this articale it's required reading.

My back has gotten so much stronger since i started box squatting. In the fall I did 300 pound good mornings with the bar up on my shoulders. Which may not be much. But two years earlier I was afraid to use more than 75 pounds.

And you may say thats anecdotal but all this anecdotal shit is backed by experts in the field. Its no conincidence.

Furthermore many anecdotes arent exclusive to a few people you can see them in every gym across the country.

We see people that can leg press 800 pounds NO LIE. 800. But struggle with a 135 pound squat.

Guys that leg press 800 pounds and have to use a belt to strain out stiff leg deadlifts with 175 pounds.

People that think of every excuse in the book not to squat or deadlift. Even though they assure their form is right, it usually isnt. Their knees are the first thing to flex they flex very little at the hip, pathetic.

General population can get away with leg presses but if you want the edge in athletics the squat is the way to go.

If you use bad form anything can happen.

You should 'always' imo use free weights if you can. It just allows for a 'natural' and 'real' range of movement.

You are not 'strapped on rails' and you have to 'control' the weight and use smaller supporting muscles more.

Do you punch or kick on 'rails'? Where you can exert the force in ANY direction and get results? No you have to control it.

I have seen some people do stupid stuff with the leg press. Moving a few inches BUT I have seen A LOT of people squat a few inches also. Quite sad really.

Remember if you use bad form ANYTHING can happen.

Squating IS NOT HARD. Just have your feet planted, a bit wider then shoulder width, have your toes point outwards, SIT DOWN INBETWEEN YOUR LEGS now this is WHY people can't squat. They can't sit down between their legs due to lack of flexibility in hams and hip flexors and complain they can't squat!?! Well 1 billion Chinese people can squat with flat feet.

And people use TOO MUCH WEIGHT TOO EARLY and they of course can't support it.


I love to squat but I hate to say that I get severe pain in my left hip when I squat below parallel with any weight above 275 lbs.

I'm going to try just below parallel box squats and front squats this week and if they don't work I can still do one legged squats, deadlifts, and heavy good mornings.

But you won't catch me on a leg press until I've exhausted all other options.