Friday, September 7, 2012

Squats and Leg Press:Do They do the Same Thing?

I was at my new facility in Brookline last week getting in some early training sessions before things really start to ramp up the schedule, I observed a guy doing leg press and I was in the middle of a set of tempo back squats, yeah let’s not talk about how much those hurt. I could get into the benefits of controlling the eccentric action in a squat or any exercise. I could get into how much I hate having your knees being forced into your chest without the proper amount of mobility makes, while making me cringe and lose my sanity. Instead I’d like to compare the two exercises being performed by the other guy and myself.

Putting it in simple terms, they both work the same muscles when done correctly, except one thing, Erector Spinae, the muscle, actually group of muscles, that run right up and down the middle of your back. These muscles’ primary function is to extend your body at all three sections of the spine, cervical, thoracic and lumbar.

When you lay on a leg press it stabilizes your back, and Erector Spinae, for you, when you do a squat, you are forced to do it yourself or you are going to do a face plant like you’ve gone beyond the legal limit walking on cobblestone. A few of you are probably sitting there with the thought, “Putting back muscles under stress is an easy way to mess your back up isn’t it?” Yes it is, if you use form that’s bad enough to make me want to gouge my eyes out. Actually if you don’t load your back muscles correctly then you can eventually end up with a case of Kyphosis, to put it simply, think Quasimoto from the bell tower. Working your Erector Spinae, as well as other major upper back muscles will help you hold your spine upright. You don't want curves to your back, they are natural and let you bear weight onto your shoulders and such, but there is defiantly such thing as too much here. No one wants to end up being that ugly son of a gun ringing the bell in Paris. Other exercises that work this muscle group are pretty much any deadlift variation and good mornings. There are a few situations I would consider using a leg press for my legs, inexperience, coming off an injury and I can go on, but that’s not enough for me to switch.

Since you are all now informed next time you think about working your legs and face the decision of squat or leg press, make the decision that’s going to keep you upright.

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