Why You Should Stop Using The Leg Press Machine At The Gym

Whether you have a gym membership or you opt for home based workouts, getting exercise in is a great way to stay heathy and fit. You will reap the rewards with a regular exercise routine, which can provide benefits like weight control, better sleep, and improved mood, not to mention (but we must!) that exercising also helps reduce the risk of chronic medical conditions (via Mayo Clinic). 

If you are an athlete, body builder, or fitness enthusiast, chances are you are well versed in all things gym-related, including the most intimidating machines. However, using those weight machines at the gym may not be so easy for beginners or those who tend to gravitate toward the free weights and elliptical machines.

Whether you are a fitness expert or just getting started, there are some machines you may be surprised to know that you can skip all together, like the leg press. ACE-certified trainer and weight loss health coach Rachel MacPherson tells Best Life that when it comes down to the heavy hitting leg press machine, or weighted squats, you might want to opt for the latter.

Squatting offers more benefits than the leg press

Depending on your goal, the leg press may not offer up the results you think it can. Rachel MacPherson, CPT, explains to Best Life that "The stabilizer muscles aren't activated when using a leg press." These muscles include the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves (via VeryWell fit). The leg press is focused on the quadricep muscles, and if your sole intention is building that muscle, then go for it (via Byrdie). However, according to MacPherson, you can get more bang for your buck out of other movements. She states, "The machine stabilizes you to the extent that you are not turning on the muscles utilized during weighted squats."

Squat variations using dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells will target more muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles. According to Men's Journal, squats are more effective than the leg press for reasons other than the activated muscles, as squatting can improve balance, strengthen the core, and even burn more calories than the leg press. Dale Santiago, trainer and fitness instructor, explains to Byrdie that "The squat also increases core stability and improves balance and coordination ... It translates better into real-world strength." 

Experts agree: Unless your goal is building incredible quads, squats are a more effective exercise.