Is using the leg press machine an alternative to doing squats?

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    Is using the leg press machine an alternative to doing squats?


    I workout about 6 days a week. I split my body parts up: Chest & Triceps, Legs, Back and biceps, shoulders. I work my abs 6 days a week and I do 30 mins of cardio all 6 days. But I had a problem with my right knee and I am afraid of doing squats. Is the leg press machine a good alternative to doing squats? Any help is much appreciated.

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    Squats are an amazing excersize. Maybe look into a brace
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    I find hack squats aren't a bad substitute-ive been doing these latley as my back has been tight and i dont want to injure it.

    Alternatively, you could do lighter squats. There are a number of things you can do to intensify the squat without making it heavier.

    You can put tension on the outside (and inside) of your legs simply by trying to push your legs outwards or inwards from the feet in the squat position without letting your feet actually move. Just stand up and try it. Outwards will make your quads tense- Inwards will focus on the inside of your legs.

    For example. On the essentric portion of the movement try push your feet outwards so there is increased tension in your quads. Do this for the whole essentric portion of the squat. At the bottom of the movement squeeze your hamstrings, and then put the tension back on your quads again on the way up. This is HARD and will intensify a much lighter weight without damage to your knee.

    Dont push out so hard that it puts your knees out of alignment- you want just enough to increase tension. I find a stance with my feet just wider than shoulder width is good. I tend to take about 3-4 seconds on the way down, and try to come up within one or two seconds.
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    i would say absolutely not. my opinion is that the leg press would put more strain on the knee. squats are meant to be a hip dominant movement. not to say the knees are not involved, they just are not a prime mover. also, i have found over the years that weak links in squats are more the glutes, hamstrings, and traps which dont get worked as well on the leg press.

    i think it was the russians that found that squats are built best with 65-85% of max. so you can go relatively light and hammer out more volume.

    you could try box squats to really force the hip dominance as well.

    have you tried unilateral work? like step ups...
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    If you do the exercise slow with no momentum all the strain should go on your legs and not your joints and ligaments
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    What is wrong with your knee?

    It would be impossible to offer good advice without knowing.
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    I remember I once developed a problem with my knee from running with poor posture. It was agony walking up a flight of stairs or even a hill, and I would die before walking down one, but for whatever reason squatting not only didnt bother me but relieved pain
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    Squat light and work your way up
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoLimitz
    Squat light and work your way up
    This. I have had knee issues growing up from sports and improper lifting technique. Once I fixed the technique issues I started squatting light and have worked up in weight.

    That being said, with my knee issues now I do leg press first, then squats. I'm not able to do as much weight in my squats since I am already fatigued, but for me the leg press gets my quads/knees warmed up sufficiently so that I'm good to go when I hit squats.
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    There isn't any exercise like squats !

    Leg press is a nice replacement exercise if you can't do them but nothing beat the plain old squat !
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    Quote Originally Posted by Docmattic View Post
    I find hack squats aren't a bad substitute-ive been doing these latley as my back has been tight and i dont want to injure it.

    Alternatively, you could do lighter squats. There are a number of things you can do to intensify the squat without making it heavier.

    You can put tension on the outside (and inside) of your legs simply by trying to push your legs outwards or inwards from the feet in the squat position without letting your feet actually move. Just stand up and try it. Outwards will make your quads tense- Inwards will focus on the inside of your legs.

    For example. On the essentric portion of the movement try push your feet outwards so there is increased tension in your quads. Do this for the whole essentric portion of the squat. At the bottom of the movement squeeze your hamstrings, and then put the tension back on your quads again on the way up. This is HARD and will intensify a much lighter weight without damage to your knee.

    Dont push out so hard that it puts your knees out of alignment- you want just enough to increase tension. I find a stance with my feet just wider than shoulder width is good. I tend to take about 3-4 seconds on the way down, and try to come up within one or two seconds.
    I like hack squats as well. Not an equal replacement but pretty close.
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    i would do both. If you "cant" do squats try some smith maching squats or front squats
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrathchild281 View Post
    i would do both. If you "cant" do squats try some smith maching squats or front squats
    if you cant do squats then you sure as hell shouldnt do smith machine anything. if you cant squat, how can you sit down to eat let alone stand back up, how do you sit on the couch to watch more tv, how do you sit down to **** to make space for more food, how do you sit on the bed to go to sleep.

    in other words squatting is something you do daily for many activities. so learn to squat. your knees will thank you. and front squats are a great way to learn how not to lean too far forward when squatting cause if you do you have to dump the weight.
    you can call me "ozzie" for short.
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    On another note, it's not a good idea to work legs/back so close to each other. You'll likely overlap some parts and overwork your lower back easily this way. I assume you're doing deadlifts on your back day, which would be impossible for me after a leg day. If you're not deadlifting either, you should start. Deadlifts + squats are two of the most important lifts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cary K View Post
    I like hack squats as well. Not an equal replacement but pretty close.

    Squatting (when done properly) is mainly all about the posterior chain, and hack squats afaik mainly hit your quads.
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    What about the leg press?
    ...(the leg press) restrict(s) movement in body segments that normally adjust position during the squat, thus restricting the expression of normal biomechanics...(it) is particularly heinous in that it allows the use of huge weights, and therefore facilitates unwarranted bragging. Please slap the next person that tells you he leg-pressed a thousand pounds. A 1000-lb. leg press is as irrelevant as a 500 lb. quarter-squat. – Mark Rippetoe
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Van Cleef
    What about the leg press?
    ...(the leg press) restrict(s) movement in body segments that normally adjust position during the squat, thus restricting the expression of normal biomechanics...(it) is particularly heinous in that it allows the use of huge weights, and therefore facilitates unwarranted bragging. Please slap the next person that tells you he leg-pressed a thousand pounds. A 1000-lb. leg press is as irrelevant as a 500 lb. quarter-squat. - Mark Rippetoe
    I like this post a lot! I use leg press and extensions as warm up/pre exhuast before squats and deads, I have a nice teardrop but really want to get the outer sweep to grow so I do leg press to pre exhuast inner quad so its mostly hitting the outer when I'm squating. I also really love sumo deads and deficit deads. They seriously kick ass
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    Quote Originally Posted by madlove122
    I workout about 6 days a week. I split my body parts up: Chest & Triceps, Legs, Back and biceps, shoulders. I work my abs 6 days a week and I do 30 mins of cardio all 6 days. But I had a problem with my right knee and I am afraid of doing squats. Is the leg press machine a good alternative to doing squats? Any help is much appreciated.
    No,
    Squats are a closed chain movement, so your are moving your body around a fixed plane (the ground).
    Leg press is an open chain movement, your body becomes the fixed plane, and you move the weight around it.
    Closed chain movements are always going to be superior because of the more natural plane of alignment and the stabilizers that come into play.
    If you can, I would suggest light weight higher rep squats, if going heavy isn't an option, even just body weight.
    Good luck.
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    ^ what he said. Also split squats are great if you have a bad knee. I'd do both.
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    Quote Originally Posted by asooneyeonig View Post
    if you cant do squats then you sure as hell shouldnt do smith machine anything. if you cant squat, how can you sit down to eat let alone stand back up, how do you sit on the couch to watch more tv, how do you sit down to **** to make space for more food, how do you sit on the bed to go to sleep.

    in other words squatting is something you do daily for many activities. so learn to squat. your knees will thank you. and front squats are a great way to learn how not to lean too far forward when squatting cause if you do you have to dump the weight.
    My point here is ppl who claim they can't squat usually can really squat and don't want to. So if for whatever reason if they avoid barbell squats because there strenuous and a bit painful(like it should be) maybe than can find a home with the similar movements on the smith machine. It is technically easier since its on a straight fixed plane but if there not wanting to squat than smith machine is better than avoiding it all. I think ur exaderating about ur example of not squatting as I don't see a bed ridden weight lifter posting on this forum for variations of the squat when he can't "squat" out of bed
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrathchild281 View Post
    My point here is ppl who claim they can't squat usually can really squat and don't want to. So if for whatever reason if they avoid barbell squats because there strenuous and a bit painful(like it should be) maybe than can find a home with the similar movements on the smith machine. It is technically easier since its on a straight fixed plane but if there not wanting to squat than smith machine is better than avoiding it all. I think ur exaderating about ur example of not squatting as I don't see a bed ridden weight lifter posting on this forum for variations of the squat when he can't "squat" out of bed
    The Smith is a worse option because it is a fixed and unnatural plane of motion that would induce poor motor programming.
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    I'm strictly curious as I agree that they are not replaceable. But my trainer told me to stop after a few times of consistently ****ing my back up. Anyway, I used to love deep squats and miss doing them. He claims that he doesn't squat anymore (back issues) after reading that Dorian Yates never squatted. My trainer competes nationally and has pretty sweet legs, size sweep, are they, being Yates and my trainer just genetically gifted or what? Just curious on your thoughts as you guys know a lot more than I do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja

    The Smith is a worse option because it is a fixed and unnatural plane of motion that would induce poor motor programming.
    I wondered about that. Where I lift they do have a squat rack but the setup is either too short or too high so un racking the weight kills me, so I use the smith rack which is when I really started having problems. My lower back is weak compared to when I used to squat but I never used to hurt my back.
    d:

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    Quote Originally Posted by bean5er View Post
    I'm strictly curious as I agree that they are not replaceable. But my trainer told me to stop after a few times of consistently ****ing my back up. Anyway, I used to love deep squats and miss doing them. He claims that he doesn't squat anymore (back issues) after reading that Dorian Yates never squatted. My trainer competes nationally and has pretty sweet legs, size sweep, are they, being Yates and my trainer just genetically gifted or what? Just curious on your thoughts as you guys know a lot more than I do.

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    It's a major misconception that Dorian did not squat; he did. Anyone that says that they can't squat is lying (unless they've had MAJOR back injuries) and they just don't know how to to squat properly.
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    The main reason people don't like to squat is likely due to issues revolving around their own anterior pelvic tilt, aka hyper-lordosis, which makes the movement unstable and painful at times. People need to do maintenance on themselves, and all of these movements would become natural.

    Subbing out any functional lift for a machine is ridiculous.
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    People only hurt themselves because their ego tells them to do more weight than they can handle. I say if you aren't going ass to calves with a controlled motion then you should lower the weight. Always go below parallel
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    Eventually you just have to man up and pop your squats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrathchild281 View Post
    My point here is ppl who claim they can't squat usually can really squat and don't want to. So if for whatever reason if they avoid barbell squats because there strenuous and a bit painful(like it should be) maybe than can find a home with the similar movements on the smith machine. It is technically easier since its on a straight fixed plane but if there not wanting to squat than smith machine is better than avoiding it all. I think ur exaderating about ur example of not squatting as I don't see a bed ridden weight lifter posting on this forum for variations of the squat when he can't "squat" out of bed
    No, the pain I feel when I tried to hack squat was because of the Osteoarthritis in my knee. I even feel this pain when I am on the treadmil. I can't seem to go all the way down on the hack squat machine and I really can't do lunges. But someone else said I should try squats without any weights at first and I think I will try that. Maybe then I can build up to putting waits on a bar and squating. From all that I have read here, squats seem to be REALLY important for overall leg development. Thanks for all the help, I really appreciate the advice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthWalker View Post
    Eventually you just have to man up and pop your squats.
    I know, but I want to pop my squats without popping my knee cap as I have Osteoarthritis in my left knee.
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    You can try box jumps as well to help strengthen that knee. Should help a lot.
    If you don't have knee wraps, I'd get some as well.
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    Squats are my favorite part exercise however since my injury I've been trying different exercises as well that might be able to give me as close to the same workout that I previously had with squats.

    A couple that I have enjoyed so far have been ground plane squats, weighted forward runners lunges and a lighter weight power clean. Of the three the power clean is the closest for to achieving the same type of muscle exhaustion that I also have when doing tradional free squats.
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    Squats are a staple movement for legs and to be honest, can't be "duplicated" with any machine. I had knee problems (football injury) myself. How do u get through it?... Swallow you ego. Drop the weight, and focus on form and proper muscle contraction.

    Hack squats are nice, but not a replacement. Same with leg press. I train legs twice a week, and the back squat is part of both workouts. I do use machine leg press (hate unloading hundreds of pounds of free weights, it's pointless) close stance 4-6" apart and go for high concentrated reps (20-25ish) supperset with 45 degree walking lunges. To burn them out afterI squat. (It works for me, my outer sweep has really been taking shape)

    Smith machines train bad form. In order to get anything positive out of smith machine squats is to have a solid base foundation in a free squat first. You will know when your form is not right while in a smith rack that way. I only use a smith machine squat for close stance box squats (simply because of balance) maybe once every few weeks to switch it up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by busaboy79 View Post
    Squats are a staple movement for legs and to be honest, can't be "duplicated" with any machine. I had knee problems (football injury) myself. How do u get through it?... Swallow you ego. Drop the weight, and focus on form and proper muscle contraction.

    Hack squats are nice, but not a replacement. Same with leg press. I train legs twice a week, and the back squat is part of both workouts. I do use machine leg press (hate unloading hundreds of pounds of free weights, it's pointless) close stance 4-6" apart and go for high concentrated reps (20-25ish) supperset with 45 degree walking lunges. To burn them out afterI squat. (It works for me, my outer sweep has really been taking shape)

    Smith machines train bad form. In order to get anything positive out of smith machine squats is to have a solid base foundation in a free squat first. You will know when your form is not right while in a smith rack that way. I only use a smith machine squat for close stance box squats (simply because of balance) maybe once every few weeks to switch it up.
    Really I've had plenty of people I've tried helping get back in shape tell me about their knees and what the doctor says about squats and not doing them... if you can sit down on the couch or sit on the toilet you are squating... not saying you can hit 300 pounds but still the mechanics are they there at least just toss pvc on your back and do bodyweight
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    Been there too. After I had my MCL and meniscus torn Dr.s told me to forget about powerlifting all together. An I did... For a little while. And even when I got back into it down the road, I still had problems. But baby steps is what it took to overcome it. I did a lot of stability exercises on a bosu ball and balancing exercises with plyometrics at first to prepare my lower body to be able to handle squatting or deadlifting again. And honestly, since then, no real issues. The only time issues get in the way now is when I would lose proper form due to over exertion, or just lack of focus. Sometimes it's just knowing what is pushing your limits and what is beyond your limits and not letting your ego walk in front of that reality.

    Everyone is free to do what they want. But if I listened to the doctor back then, I would never be where I am today. Most doctors are going to tell you the safest and sure fire way of preventing pain or injury, and most of the time it's gonna be... Well stop doing it. Which is true, If something causes you pain, stop. Plain and simple. But if it's your technique that is the problem, you can't blame the exercise. Maybe it's a flexibility issue, maybe it's a physical disability, whatever it is there are ways to work around that.

    But it's all about baby steps and proper warm up /stretching as well. Don't jump into a squat rack, load it with 400lbs and expect to knock out 10-12 reps an not think your body is going to react negatively to the stress, because more than likely it will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by busaboy79 View Post
    Squats are a staple movement for legs and to be honest, can't be "duplicated" with any machine. I had knee problems (football injury) myself. How do u get through it?... Swallow you ego. Drop the weight, and focus on form and proper muscle contraction.

    Hack squats are nice, but not a replacement. Same with leg press. I train legs twice a week, and the back squat is part of both workouts. I do use machine leg press (hate unloading hundreds of pounds of free weights, it's pointless) close stance 4-6" apart and go for high concentrated reps (20-25ish) supperset with 45 degree walking lunges. To burn them out afterI squat. (It works for me, my outer sweep has really been taking shape)

    Smith machines train bad form. In order to get anything positive out of smith machine squats is to have a solid base foundation in a free squat first. You will know when your form is not right while in a smith rack that way. I only use a smith machine squat for close stance box squats (simply because of balance) maybe once every few weeks to switch it up.
    The close stance squats with forward lunges in my circuit are exactly what I use as well now after my hernia surgery. Could not recommend that approach more
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    I like the leg press for days when my back is feeling out of whack but nothing can truly replace the squat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    I like the leg press for days when my back is feeling out of whack but nothing can truly replace the squat
    the leg press applies more harmful forces to the spine than the squat. so you may want to rethink that exercise choice.
    you can call me "ozzie" for short.
  

  
 

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