In the eternal battle between squats and leg press for the position as the number one lower-body exercise, I vote for squats.
1. Greater muscle activation
The leg press is a very quadricep dominant, working mostly the strongest muscles in your legs. While it is important to strengthen them further, it is also important not to neglect your other leg muscles. With the squat, you work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and even calves – delivering a fuller, more balanced leg workout. While the leg press is great for those recovering from injury – as it is a simpler workout, it is not ideal for those looking to intensify their training.
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2. Added core work
In addition to activating all your leg muscles, the squat goes further to activating other parts of your body. Using your core to keep your body in position instantly adds isometric training to your workout. The leg press, on the other hand, does not offer this kind of added intensity. The squat is definitely a step up from the leg press: maintaining balance, bracing weight, and watching form are all aspects of increased difficulty provided by the squat.
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3. Burns more calories
The squat burns more calories per rep than any other weight training exercise. You can also switch up your squat exercises: include a cardiovascular aspect, a second exercise or a simple alternate variation. From jump squats, to the squat and press, to a curtsey squat, you can tailor your squat variation to your goals! Has there even been a more versatile exercise?
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So, squats win the lower body exercise war! Get your squat on this week by trying to include a variation in each of your workouts. Don’t forget to make sure you work with a personal trainer when doing them – achieving perfect squat form is difficult, yet necessary to avoid injury.