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Deadlift vs leg press [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Nov 20, 2018 9:31:00 AM

Deadlift and leg press

Deadlift vs Leg press


Comparing the leg press and deadlift is a case of apples and oranges. A better pairing would be the squat and the deadlift. The leg press will mainly focus on the legs while the deadlift does train most of your body. The leg press has a lower risk of injury in turn and is easier to learn. You will need specialized machines which take up a lot of space to do the leg press

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What are your goals

Why do you compare the deadlift with the leg press? Do you want to compete in a powerlifting meet? Do you want big legs? Trying to look like Arnold? Whatever it is it is important that you know your goals. Plan accordingly and you will be the success that you have always dreamed of. I usually see three main goal sets in fitness:


  • Looks 
  • Performance 
  • Health


If you are mainly about looks you probably starve towards the Hollywood look. Perfect teeth, a six pack and some sunglasses to perfect your look. To achieve this goal you will have to be very strict about your diet. Maybe even to the extent that your performance on sports activities would suffer. Diet comes first and exercising will fall in line behind it. 


The group of people who is interested in performance is not that bothered about looks. You might want to punch harder, grip tighter or jump higher. All these tasks relate to your overall strange. Bigger leg muscles will most certainly help but so will better movement patterns. When it comes to performance you have to monitor closely whether your activities make you better compared against your benchmark. Avoid taking any gospel on board. Your main focus will be on challenging exercises to make you better. Diet becomes a tool to support the performance. You will not be a slave to the scale or mirror. To achieve maximum performance you will push to the limits of your body. An injury will occur occasionally or regularly based on this. Health might not be your main priority in this setup.


If you are mainly into health you will seek out the balance. You want to move freely and without pain. Taking risks on energy levels or injury will be avoided. You will be fine with yoga and enjoy a couple of days. Whatever it is to bring down your risk of cancer and heart disease. 


Based on these three-goal sets you will most likely care about looks and performance. Based on what your main priority is the deadlift or leg press is the better choice. 



The deadlift


The deadlift is one of the most iconic movements in the free weight area of the gym. As Jon Parr Sigmarrson said


“There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do deadlift” 


The deadlift starts with the barbell on the ground. Place your mid feet under the bar. Grip the bar with both hands just outside your legs. Get tight by building tension before initiating the pull. Start the pull by pushing your feet into the ground. Keep your arms straight and finish at your hips. If you want more details on the deadlift to follow my blog. 


The biggest advantages of the deadlift are its comprehensiveness and manliness. You will find little barbell movements which address as many muscle groups as the deadlift. On top of that, there is something primal about the deadlift. It is very satisfying to pick something very heavy off the ground to drop it again. 


The biggest disadvantages of the deadlift are its injury risk and lack of explosiveness. Executing the deadlift is incorrect can lead to serious back injuries. It is also not the best way to get your speed up. If you are an athlete take care that you pay attention to speed and not to maximum strength only. 


The leg press


The leg press is the little brother of the barbell back squat. Most people will perform it when they are afraid of the barbell squat and still want to train their legs. 


The leg press is performed in a specially designed machine. Load the machine with the desired weight. Get into the machine and place your feet against the metal plate. Unrack the weight and remove the safety. Descend the weight as low as you can while maintaining control. Pull upwards from the lowest point you can reach. 


The biggest advantages of the leg press are its safety and its scale. Ther are only a few exercises in the gym where you can move as much weight as safe as with the leg press. Even with little training,g you will already move considerable numbers of plates. This is especially good for hypertrophy training. 


The biggest disadvantages of the leg press are its lack of natural balancing and injury risk for the knees. The leg press shares one big problem with most other machines. The movement is very rigid based on the setup. This does not allow you to be more targeted or play to your strengths. Your body always has some imbalances which you can address more targeted with free weights. The other danger is that you will overload the leg press and hurt your knees. Staying too long in lockout position does not help your knees.


Which is better, the deadlift or the leg press


As with everything it depends on your goals. The leg press is a great exercise when you want to grow your quads. If you want bigger legs to impress. You can also use it to get more volume in without putting too much strain on your lower back. The leg press will not be done in competition. Weightlifters and powerlifters will also have to do the deadlift.


The deadlift is a great exercise to build pure strength for any athlete. You will also train your grip and lower back apart from your quads. As the deadlift is a very functional movement it will train body awareness and balance more than the leg press. You will, not load it as heavy and do it for fewer repetitions in general.


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Topics: Lift stronger, Deadlift, Stepdad, Fitness, Strength