Archive for the tag - squat

Squats Vs. Leg Press: Which is Better?

Which is more effective at building stronger, more muscular legs? The squat? Or the leg press machine? It’s a controversial question that has been debated for decades.

Like so many things in fitness, there’s no easy answer – and it really depends on the individual. Ability level, body type and injuries must all be taken into consideration.

The Leg Press

The leg press machine offers a few great advantages over traditional squats.

For one, it’s easy for beginners to understand the machine – and, with a little guidance from a trainer – to perform the exercise in good form. When using the leg press, it’s important for the lower back to stay flat against the machine. At the bottom position, a rounded lower back can leave the spine susceptible to dangerously large compression loads. The leg press certainly isn’t fool-proof, but it’s easier to master than a squat.

In addition, when performed properly – and unlike traditional squats – leg press machines take the lower back out of the equation. For people with lower back issues, this can be a huge benefit. When people with back issues perform a traditional squat, their lower back may give out before the leg muscle are fatigued.

Squats

While the leg press doesn’t offer adjustments for different body structures, a squat is unique to you. Instead of forcing your body to work within the confines of an apparatus designed by a manufacturer, a squat accommodates many different body structures. As a result, exercisers are able to avoid the postural or movement dysfunctions that can result from the leg press machine.

Moreover, squats require – and thus build – stabilization. In everyday activities and in sports, stabilization is hugely important. One of the reasons that people are able to work with more weight on the leg press machine is that it does the stabilizing work for you. While the leg press eliminates balance from the exercise, it’s not eliminated from our lives – and so it’s an important skill to develop. This gives squats an important advantage.

We also know that growth hormone and testosterone are important for building muscles. It’s believed that squats are one of the most effective resistance exercises (including leg presses) for increasing those hormone levels.

Conclusion

Both squats and leg presses can be important exercises in any leg workout. Each exercise offers unique benefits to different exercisers – and so it’s just a matter of finding which works best for you. Personally, I like to start my leg workout with squats – and then move to the leg press to fully fatigue the muscles.

And remember, if you’re trying to build muscle, then it’s important to push yourself to higher levels of resistance. If you’re doing the same amount of weight each week – be it on the leg press or in a squat – then you won’t see the muscle growth for which you’re looking.

Which do you prefer? The leg press? Or the squat? Let me know in the comments below!

6 Common Squatting Mistakes.

No comprehensive leg routine is complete without the powerful compound exercise known as squats. Squats are performed a number of ways – with dumbbells, bodyweight, kettlebells, resistance bands, etc. – but most often with a barbell.

While barbell squats are a great exercise that can yield excellent results, there are a number of common squatting mistakes that I’d like to highlight.

  1. Resting the barbell on your neck. If your neck hurts from squats, you’re probably resting the bar on your neck instead of upper back. Resting the bar on your upper back allows you to squat greater amounts of weight and avoid injury.
  2. Not squatting all the way. While performing a partial squat is a great way to get acclimated and build confidence, it’s best to end each squat in a thigh position that is parallel to the floor. If you don’t complete a full squat, you’ll be cutting your results short.
  3. Checking your form in a side mirror. Want to know if your thighs are parallel to the floor when squatting? You can’t tell from a front-facing mirror – and twisting your neck to view a side mirror is dangerous. Instead, ask someone to monitor your form.
  4. Uneven loading. Distracted and chatty lifters sometimes load an uneven amount of weight (i.e., 75 pounds on one side of the barbell and 85 on the other). Obviously, this could result in injury. Pay attention and stay focused!
  5. Unracking in a lunge. When going into your first squat, don’t unrack the barbell in a lunge position. Doing so puts more strain on your front leg and wastes energy. Instead, unrack the barbell with both feet directly under the bar.
  6. Not staying in alignment. It’s wise to keep your knees directly over your feet when squatting. In fact, I like to see the tips of my shoes poking out above my knees when looking down at the ground. Many people have a tendency to buckle their knees inward or slide them too far forward – which can result in undue stress or knee pain.

As you incorporate squats into your routine, enjoy maximized results by avoiding these common mistakes.

Great Leg & Oblique Exercise: Golf Squats! [Video]

Variety isn’t just the spice of life – it’s a powerful ingredient in any fruitful workout program. From time to time, it’s a good idea to change things up.

Golf squats are a powerful leg and oblique exercise that you’ve probably never heard of or seen at the gym. Which means it’s a good idea to try ’em out and consider incorporating them into your routine.

I put together a short video demonstration. Click below to check it out: