There’s no doubt about it. Given that your technique is decent enough, squats and leg presses are the ultimate moves for building majestic glutes and strengthening the whole lower body.
Embrace leg day by focusing on these two and you’re in for some quick and massive gains. But on days when you lack the time to do both, choose squats to get the most bang for your buck.
Here’s why squats are better than the leg press
1. Maximal muscle activation
Squats engage the whole body to work together to perform the lift by achieving a complex coordination of a range of joints, muscles and ligaments.
If your form is solid, all these muscles will be activated in the most effective way and work in synergy, with the end result being a powerful squat and serious muscle growth.
2. Optimal fat burning
There’s no better way to lose fat than by including compound movements in your routine, especially squats. Since they require the activation of more muscles than the leg press and many other popular exercises, they are superior when it comes to burning fat over the course of the whole day and increasing your lean muscle mass.
3. Squats improve muscular balance
Leg press machines emphasize the quads and almost completely eliminate the glutes from the lift. This is bad news for the majority of lifters, since they already have stronger quads than glutes, so by training them even more, the imbalance between their quads and glutes will become even more painfully obvious. Or even worse, it will lead to painful back and knee injuries.
4. Squats strengthen the core
Core strength and stability is one of the most important attributes of a fit and powerful body. Your core provides support for your spine when you any type of physical activity, from walking to wrestling, and it’s weak, bad posture, lower back pain and injury are bound to happen sooner or later.
And it’s no secret that weighted squats (including most of their variants) are the lift that will target your core the best, while deadlifts and power cleans take the second place.
So, both squats and leg presses have their place in a well balanced routine. But if you need to chose just one, than squats are a better choice than the leg press.