Are Squats Better Than Leg Press?

Are Squats Better Than Leg Press

As a seasoned fitness enthusiasts, we’ve spent countless hours under the iron, pushing our limits, and sculpting our physiques.

The eternal debate between squats and leg press has echoed through gym halls for decades. Today, let’s dissect these two powerhouse exercises and determine which one reigns supreme.
Squats, my friend, are the cornerstone of leg day. They engage not only your quadriceps but also your hamstrings, glutes, and even your core.

When you unrack that barbell and descend into the squat, you’re activating a symphony of muscle fibers. Here’s why squats deserve their throne:

  1. Functional Strength: Squats mimic real-world movements—like lifting heavy grocery bags or hoisting a suitcase into an overhead bin. They build functional strength that translates beyond the gym.
  2. Stabilization: Balancing that bar across your traps forces your stabilizer muscles to work overtime. Say hello to a rock-solid core and improved balance.
  3. Variety: From back squats to front squats, safety bar squats to Bulgarian split squats, the squat family offers nearly endless variations. Keep your routine fresh and your gains steady.

Leg press, on the other hand, is like that quiet kid in class who aces every test without making a fuss. Here’s why it deserves a nod:

  1. Quad Dominance: If you’re chasing that teardrop quad sweep, leg press hones in on those front thighs like a laser.
  2. Joint-Friendly: Squats can be harsh on the lower back and knees. Leg press, with its guided movement, reduces stress on these joints.
  3. Volume Potential: Load up those plates! Leg press allows you to push serious weight without worrying about balance. Perfect for hypertrophy-focused bodybuilders.


  • Squats: The unrivaled choice. They build raw strength, enhance your squat competition, and make you feel like a superhero. Jokes aside, the best way to squat more in competition is to squat (instead of leg press) in your training.
  • Tip: Opt for low-bar squats to maximize posterior chain activation and your 1-rep max.


  • Leg Press: Isolate those quads. Load up the plates and chase the pump. The beauty of bodybuilding is that the only thing you’re judged on is your physique — not the exercises you used to get there.
  • Tip: Vary your foot placement on the leg press machine —wide, narrow, high, low—to hit different muscle fibers.

Recreational Lifters:

  • Both: Variety is key to longevity in the iron game. Alternate between squats and leg press to keep your workouts exciting and balanced.
  • Tip: Focus on form. Depth matters in squats, and controlled reps matter on the leg press.