Do I Need to Do Both Squats and Leg Press?

Do I Need to Do Both Squats and Leg Press?

Squats and leg presses target the same muscle groups, which is why some people wonder if they can do one or the other – but not both. But the truth is, these two exercises actually complement each other.

A Closer Look at Squats

Squats engage several muscles throughout the body. This compound exercise work on the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the muscles in the abs, hips and torso.

Incorporating squats into your routine offers the following advantages:

  • You can tailor your squats to work different muscles.
  • Squats strengthen the back and core muscles, contributing to power development and better athletic performance.
  • Improved posture and increased knee flexibility.

Take note however that there are some risks of doing squats. If you hold a very heavy weight while doing squats, this could lead to an injury. Also, rounding your back or leaning too far forward may strain your muscles.

A Closer Look at Leg Press

The leg press exercise, just like squats, also engages the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The machine used is one of the most popular in gyms like Blink Fitness. However, it places greater emphasis on the quads due to the limited range of motion involved. This makes it an excellent addition to your workout routine, particularly if you aim to build strong quads.

Advantages of doing leg presses include:

  • You can target specific leg muscles simply by adjusting your foot position.
  • You can do the exercise without any spotter.
  • It provides an effective workout for the quads, as the shorter range of motion places more focused stress on these muscles.

But just like squats, it also has some drawbacks. For one, it puts less emphasis on the hamstrings and glute muscles compared to squats. Also, putting too much weight on the machine can potentially injure the knee joint, emphasizing the need for caution and proper form.

Balancing Squats and Leg Presses for Optimal Results

The best you can do is to include both exercises into your workout. That way you can maximize the benefits and avoid overtraining specific muscle groups.

If you’re new, you can start with squats so you can allocate more energy and effort to this compound exercise. As you get better, you may consider prioritizing leg presses in your routine.

In terms of figuring out the correct weight for your leg presses, the rule of thumb is to increase the weight up to 3x more than what you’d normally be able to handle with squats. But of course, take this with a grain of salt and choose weight you’re comfortable with.

Now, if you have to choose between squats and leg presses, the answer will depend on your specific goals. If you want a well-rounded program that targets various muscle groups and improves core strength, then go with squats. If you want to isolate the hamstrings and quads, then leg presses are the way to go. Those with a weaker core are also better suited for leg presses as the machine offers stability during exercise.

Watch this leg press exercise video:

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