Barbell squat is one of the key compound exercises in bodybuilding. You know that barbell squat, bench press, and deadlifts are the three most effective workouts in bodybuilding. Some isolated exercises might be better than compound exercises in targeting specific muscle groups.
At the same time, the three above mentioned exercises are classic workouts that will never be outdated. Barbell squat is one of them. The effectiveness of barbell squats is never discussed. Leg press is another wonderful workout that can target your leg muscles very efficiently. I love both of these compound exercises. Let us see which of these exercises is more effective.
ADVANTAGES OF BARBELL SQUATS
Barbell squats is a key compound exercise in almost all sports existing in the world. Bodybuilding is not the only sport where barbell squats are practiced. Boxers, swimmers, footballers, judoists, tennis players, powerlifters, and many other athletes from different sports practice barbell squats on a regular base. We can say that barbell squat is one of the three most important exercises in bodybuilding.
Let us see how effective barbell squats are for developing your leg muscles. Barbel squats target all leg muscles, and glutes as well. If you squat deeper, you will put more stress on your glutes. Even though glutes are somehow targeted by barbell squats, the majority of bodybuilders do not feel any stress put on their glutes during the exercise. Thus, if you intend to develop your glute muscles more efficiently, it is better to do isolated glute exercises such as hip thrusts, Bulgarian split squats, and Romanian deadlifts. Although Romanian deadlift is not considered an isolated butt exercise, it will stress your glutes better than barbell squats. The effectiveness of barbell squats depends on your technique.
If you squat professionally, you will definitely feel your muscles. Otherwise, if you don't squat enough deep, your leg muscles will not be developed.
Barbell squats develop almost all parts of your body. While squatting, you use your toes, calfs, legs, glutes, back, your core, your ab muscles, hands, and shoulders. Thus, barbell squats activate all muscles of your body.
One of the most obvious benefits of barbell squat is that it stimulates and develops all muscle groups of your body. Squats make you stronger. As it was said, barbell squat is good for strengthening all muscles of your body. However, if you want to maximally activate and develop your leg muscles, there are far more effective exercises than barbell squat.
Barbell squat is one of the most dangerous exercises in bodybuilding. If you squat incorrectly or you use too big weights, you may severely injure yourself. I think that barbell squat is the most dangerous exercise in bodybuilding. All types of hernias can occur during to barbell squatting. As I said, put a too big weigh on the barbell, and you will injure yourself while squatting. Improper technique is another common reason why so many athletes injure themselves while squatting. Plus, barbell squats put a lot of stress on your back. This is a very big problem for many sportsmen out there.
ADVANTAGES OF LEG PRESS
Leg press is one of my most favorite exercises. I have already achieved good results on leg press machine. It is definitely one of the most effective exercises to develop your leg muscles. When I do barbell squats, I don't feel my quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. No matter how much weight I put on the barbell, I don't feel my legs while squatting. On the other hand, leg press gives me astonishing results. There is always a big pump after a heavy set on leg press machine. Also, I can press more weight on the machine.
Leg press activates whole muscles of your legs. Additionally, leg press activates your glutes. Of course, leg press will not stress your core, shoulders, quadriceps, and stabilization muscles. However, your abs will be a little bit flexed on the machine. Abdominal muscles are used in all physical exercises. Therefore, it is necessary to train your abs only at the end of your training day. Thus, leg press will target only your legs. I think that leg muscles activation on leg press machine is much better than during barbell squats. Thus, if you do not aim to stress your whole body and you merely want to maximally activate your leg muscles, leg press is definitely the best workout you can use for this purpose.
Bodybuilding is a dangerous sport. Anytime, you can get traumatized if you do not follow all the necessary safety rule. Leg press is also a tremendously dangerous exercise. On leg press machine, I use at least two times bigger weight than I use on barbells while squatting. The majority of athletes also use big weights on the machine. For this reason, there is a high probability to injure your legs and knees on the machine. Leg press does not stress your back. This is a great advantage of this exercise.
Both leg press and barbell squats are effective in activating leg muscles. Whilst leg press machine lets you activate only your legs, barbell squat stimulates all muscles of your body. However, if you aim to maximally develop your legs, I find leg press to be more effective than barbell squats. On leg press machine, you can use bigger weight thereby putting more stress on your leg muscles. Heavier weights, in turn, will increase muscle hypertrophy. You remember a famous bodybuilding rule: "Lift heavy, to get bigger."
On leg press machine, you don't have to use stabilizer muscles. For some people, this might be a disadvantage. For me, it is a BIG plus of leg press machine. On leg press machine, you can comfortably emphasize your efforts and attention at your legs. You always feel your leg muscles while exercising on the machine.
Whilst both exercises are dangerous, I find leg press to be a safer leg workout. Also, you do not stress your back while pushing weights on leg press machine. You can also get injured while working out your legs on leg press machine. However, there is a bigger probability that you will damage your health while squatting with heavy weights. To get hurt on leg press machine, you will need to use enormously huge weights. While squatting with a barbell, even a small mistake in your squat technique might lead to a fatal damage.
I find leg press to be more effective, safer, and much more comfortable exercise than barbell squat. I have explained the reasons why I think so. All of us are different. We have dissimilar opinions and preferences. This is not to say that I criticize barbell squats. I squat every week. Usually, Monday is my leg day. As soon as I come to the gym on Monday, I put a barbell on my traps and start squatting. Thus, I do both of the exercises. I recommend doing both leg press and barbell squat on your leg days. Do not exclude any of them from your training routine. If you have some problems with your knees or back, it will be better to exclude barbell squats from your program. Leg press will absolutely suffice to activate, develop, and strengthen your leg muscles.