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Strength Training Facts…Why I Don’t Like The Leg Press!

Strength Training Facts…Why I Don’t Like The Leg Press!

dislike button by Sean MacEntee

Over the years I have always been more interested in building the legs by either squatting or deadlifting in my strength training program. Now some of you would argue that deadlifting is more for building “the back,” and I would agree with you, but right here you’re wrong and I’m right because I’m the one writing the post! Geez, I must be grumpy today. I’m just saying that I prefer these strength training tactics to the most epic fail in leg training history being that of the ‘ole leg press. So why am I so set against this machine when talking about trying to metamorphosize from Joe Regular into the THIGH HULK. Well that’s why I decided to tackle this in the following post. If you want to be the THIGH HULK then here’s why you should scrap the leg press.


The older I get I am more and more convinced that life is better when you just try to simplify things. In terms of leg strength training this idea is no different. I mean you walk around standing on your own two feet, you play sports on your feet, you dance on your feet, and in my view by and large you should focus on developing leg strength by training on your feet. There are many reasons why I don’t care for the leg press machine, but this one sure takes the cake.

Let’s break this down. When you perform a strength training exercise on your feet such as squats you have to stabilize and control your body. There is no support from a sled that is placed on a couple of rails that only moves along a fixed plane of motion (such as the leg press). By standing upright and fighting against gravity you have to get stronger. Your body will adapt much better to the stress of having to maintain balance and stability while also moving through a certain and more complete range of motion.

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Oh yeah, that key phrase range of motion (ROM) is a big freaking deal. I know you’ve seen the guy in the gym cranking out reps on the leg press machine with entire stacks of plates hanging off each side of the sled and even piled on top moving his knees throughout a whopping 3 inch ROM. If not then I thought I would provide you with the visual below. The quality of the video isn’t all that great, but then again neither is what the guy is trying to accomplish!

Whew, I broke a sweat thinking about having to unload all of those plates, because that sure as hell is going to require a lot more work and effort than it would to sit there and pulse back and forth like he just did. I don’t even know where to start with this one. Anyways, I think you get the point.

I just want to yell a bunch of expletives and then make folks like this stand up and PERFECTLY perform body weight squats with a COMPLETE range of motion for at least 10 reps. The result will be much greater than what you just witnessed in terms of the development of one’s strength training program. This is another reason why I don’t like supporting the leg press machine as an ingredient for a strength training program. For one people want to put on the illusion that they are stronger than they actually are!!! You see strength isn’t the appearance of how much weight you can lift, it has more to do with the quality in which you lift it!

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This is another reason why I don’t approve of the whole leg pressing thing. Not only is it a waste of space and a b*tch to move if you get tired of it the thing can possibly do more harm than good. If guys like the one you witnessed in the video did actually attempt a deeper descent when lowering the sled certain studies have shown that one can actually cause greater lumbar (lower back) stress due to a greater flexion at the lumbar spine. Rolling the hips at the bottom of the ROM can cause greater stress on the lumbar discs potentially leading to injury of the discs. In short, it’s not the best idea for your strength training program.

Now having said all of this the same could be said for folks at the health clubs that attempt the same crazy things when back squatting or dead lifting. I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen as well, however I do think the leg press MACHINE provides a bigger crutch for even those young novice lifters to try and make some stupid Herculean attempt at lifting heavier weight for the sake of boosting ego. I admit stupid things happen with free weights, but this one seems to be one that I have witnessed many times over the years to take the cake! Just take my word for it.

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Strength training should be about mastering your body, period. If you can master your body and the technique required of certain lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings you are going to have a greater chance at building some HULK like thighs without the risk of injury or being the butt of a bad joke. One of the reasons I blog is to try and provide you with ideas and concepts to improve your strength training program so that you can bypass all of the BS. I do this through the blog and the site, but I also provide this on a more direct scale through my Brandon Richey’s Better Than Steroids ebook. By the way the price of the ebook has been cut, but the knowledge bombs are just as effective! Just click here to get your copy and you’ll also get my FREE Metabolic Enhancer Power Nutrition Guide as well!

If you want me to help you to get more direct with your strength training program on a weekly basis then make sure to Sign Up For My Free Knowledge List as well! The point is to make sure your strength training program is a smart and effective one. Start your smart training today my friend.



I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Brandon if we are power training with squats, deadlifts, benches, shoulder presses etc should we do our kettle bell swings with these exercises or on different days?

    I power and conditioning program that I read about is take your mass lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench, shoulder press and do 10 sets of for example one rep and rest only 20 seconds between each set and keep doing this until your through with the 10 sets. Do you think this would be better or between each rep do some kettlebell swings and keep going back and forth that way?

    Thanks for your time my friend
    Rick Conner from Southaven Ms

    1. Rick,

      It is really up to how you want to structure your workout. If you are following a program that calls for you to exert yourself at such a high intensity as a single repetition (say 80 or 85% of max effort) with only 20 seconds rest you may want to just stick to that protocol. If you start supersetting kettlebell swings after your squats or presses you may want to either adjust the intensity of your squat or adjust your rest time if you decide to start combining the 2 movements.

      The key is to make sure that you can execute the lifts of both of your exercises with excellent technique and not to allow fatigue to compromise your form. This should be the goal whether you are performing the 2 exercises together or separately. So to answer your question it’s fine to combine them, but you may have to adjust some of “fixed variables” of the program you are following (such as rest time, intensity, etc.) to ensure you are getting in a quality lift with BOTH lifts. Keep training smart Rick and thanks for joining the group here on the blog site! Excellent question my friend.

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