Leg Press vs Squat: The Spine Explored

I used to squat. Not anymore.

Check out my interview with Bill here and the follow up on Conditioning Research.

There is also a very old interview with Bill from none other than Doug McGuff MD here.

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at TheDreamLounge.net and Declarationism.com.

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20 Responses to Leg Press vs Squat: The Spine Explored

  1. Joe January 12, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    If it wasn’t controversial, then I guess it wouldn’t be TDL . . .
    Good shit as usual. Looking forward to the DVD.

  2. Ben January 12, 2011 at 2:34 am #

    My leg press has always been heavier than my squat and “easier” in the sense of no sticking points. Today I made that switch for good.

    Been doing Half-GOMAD for the past 10 days, still trying to avoid all grains tho. I’m almost 20lbs under what I would like to be, so in a month I should be there. Now I’m up about 6 lbs. Milk sucks though.

    Btw, I have some thoughts on your declarationism post, and will leave a comment soon enough. Just need to type em out.

  3. jaYOST7 January 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    I see what he is saying, AND I don’t agree. He is comparing a man-made machine to a barbell exercise– ridiculous. Personally, I have done both MANY times. I find the barbell squat to be FAR more effective in making my legs sore, and ALSO far more difficult..

    • Anthony Dream Johnson January 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

      And how was a barbell created Jeff?

      • jaYOST7 January 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

        E=mc2. I THINK BOTH exervises are good, leg presses and squats, and BOTH should be performed — w/ proper form, OF COURSE!

    • Joe A. January 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm #


      Couple of things:

      -Bill never said squats were not efective; just risky.

      -muscular soreness is not a good indicator of effective exercise

      -squats are more difficult, mechanically but not necessarily muscularly. If you can minimize mechanical constraints, then you can maximize muscular effort.

      -and finally, what Anthony said . . .

  4. jaYOST7 January 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    SQUATS are hard.

  5. Donnie Hunt January 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    For me personally Bill is speaking volumes here in this brief 20 minute video. I’m probably opening up a can of worms here but something that keeps coming to me is the way we lift a heavy object in everyday life compared to strength training exercises done in good form is quite different. I’ve not studied biomechanics or physiology but have wondered if alot of the exercises i’ve done over the years are “good” for me or if I’m gonna have problems later in life as a result of doing them.

    • Donnie Hunt January 14, 2011 at 10:41 am #

      Sorry, my last post got off topic and rambly. Any ideas on when Bill’s new book is coming out? This is truly valuable knowledge.

  6. Bill DeSimone January 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Donnie, thanks as usual for the interest. Putting this stuff in complete sentences and photos is a lot harder than it looks, apparently.
    Especially when looking at Ferriss’ and Tony Horton’s books, which are margin to margin, small font, incredibly dense. Frankly, I want to put something out that I would want to actually read, not work out with ( although I’d be happy to get a fraction of their sales).
    Expect sometime between March and June on Amazon.

    • Donnie Hunt January 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

      You’re welcome Bill. I greatly enjoyed reading “Moment Arm Exercise”. The videos have been very helpful and the information you have shared on various websites. Lookin forward to see what you have to say in your new book.

  7. darwin75 May 31, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    My leg press has always been heavier than my squat and

  8. Lori Austin July 29, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Thanks Anthony Dream Johnson for the share

  9. Aaron August 22, 2011 at 4:35 am #

    Spine loves pressure, squat is better than leg presses.

    Leg Presses

    These are awful. Here’s why: Creates muscle imbalances, zero functional benefit, winds up joint to unsafe position

    Muscle Balance Perspective:

    Quads are generally stronger than hamstrings; this reinforces the problem.
    When your quadriceps overpower your hamstrings in deep knee flexion, there is increased torsion placed into the meniscus, increasing the likelihood of knee injury.

    Quads and glutes should be used as a pair. In this case, they are not being used effectively.

    When your glutes do not fire while using your quads with a great level of force, there is increased risk of low back injury.

    An imbalance between your quadriceps and hamstrings can quickly result in a number of knee issues, including patellofemoral (kneecap) and meniscus damage. Even worse, when your quads overpower your hamstrings, it’s not uncommon to develop restrictions in these muscles as your body attempts to even things out. These restrictions lead to increased pull on the top of your pelvis, tipping it forward, and placing pressure in your low spine.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson August 22, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      Did you really just say spine loves pressure?


      • Joe A August 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

        Anthony it’s worse. He said the spine loves pressure, suggesting that makes the squat better than leg press. Then he ends his rant about why leg press is bad for you with it leads to “pressure in your low spine” as if it was a bad thing! So which is it? The spine does or does not “love” pressure???

        • James Steele II August 23, 2011 at 5:24 am #

          The spine ‘loves’ pressure only in the sense that the compressive force produced on the vertebral segments by the contraction of the musculature actually increases segmental stability by increasing intervertebral disc stiffness. The spine probably does not ‘love’ pressure in addition to this in the form of a 100kg barbell sat across your shoulders. In fact it seems to me all the more likely that spinal buckling could occur when force is applied from above. Panjabi’s biomechanical models would support this.


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