The Real Difference Between Leg Presses And Squats

When you walk into the gym on leg day, do you tend to squats, leg presses, or both? Offering massive lower body benefits, both exercises are optimal, but there is a fundamental difference between the two — the leg press isolates the legs (specifically the quads) more directly, while the squat allows for other muscle groups to be worked such as the hips, abs, and lower back (via Men's Journal). As both of these exercises deliver results, picking your position should be based on your fitness goals.

According to Women's Health, if you really want to engage your quads, leg presses are a great choice as you can typically press more weight than you can squat. The leg press does allow for some variation, like the way you position your feet, which can adjust your workout slightly, and is more gentle on your back than a squat is (via Healthline). Additionally, there is no need for a spotter on the leg press machine, whereas one is recommended when heavy squatting.

Squatting is overall a superior exercise

Squatting, on the other hand, engages the entire body, not just the legs, and that added work results in more muscular gains, as well as power and strength. The variations of the squat (front, back, overhead, and sumo) have the ability to sculpt the body in ways the leg press simply cannot. Furthermore, squats give your core, abs, and lower back a killer workout (per Insider). Personal trainer Tatiana Firpo tells Women's Health that other squatting benefits include calorie burning, better balance, and improved overall physical performance.

The squat is an everyday movement, which is why it is an integral part of fitness programs, according to Women's Health advisor Lauren Kanski, who says, "It's probably our most-used movement pattern throughout the day." Strengthening the muscles that help you perform this movement can lead to improved posture and flexibility in your knees. Self offers up 17 more reasons the squat is superior to the leg press, and they all involve shaping your booty, and honestly, who doesn't want a better booty?