Leg press and hack squat are two powerful muscle-building exercises that will help you to build your muscles like no other, but when it comes to an out and out battle between the two, which one comes out on top? Read on to find out.
The hack squat and leg press are two of the best lower body workouts available as they give you the perfect opportunity to build muscle, improve your strength and develop your lower body power, all without having to put a bar on your back.
They can be a good alternative for people that struggle when squatting, whether through injuries or confidence, and they also provide a great way to load up the weight and perform an intense exercise, without having to use a spotter or someone else to support you.
However, as great as they are, you may be wondering if one is better than the other, but don’t worry, in this article, we are going to compare the leg press with the hack squat to see which one comes out on top.
The two most common types of leg press machines are the seated, parallel press, where you push straight out and the angled press, where you lay back on the machine and push your legs out and up.
Both are great ways or working and strengthening your legs although the parallel press is more commonly used by beginners as it only has a fixed range of motion and features a fixed weight limit.
The angled press often requires the user to place weight plates onto the bars at the end of the machine meaning you’re only limited by how many plates you can put on the machine.
The leg press allows you to work all muscles in the lower body and by moving the position of your feet you can emphasize one muscle more than another, making it far easier to work the quadriceps, or the glutes or the adductors when you want.
Many people find the leg press easier to use if they suffer from injuries to their hips, back or knees although the angled leg press can still prove difficult to use if you have back pain, especially if you have heavy weights on the machine.
The leg press does also feature safety locks to help you ‘lock’ the bar in place, at the top of the lift or if you reach failure, although how this works and is indeed positioned, can change from machine to machine, the parallel leg press for example often doesn’t have any such lock as it simply isn’t needed.
At an angled position, the hack squat places the user in a position to perform a squat, but under much safer conditions. It provides many of the same benefits of an actual barbell squat working very similar muscles in the legs but it takes the upper body out of the equation and also doesn’t place as much strain on the core or back.
It offers an opportunity to lift heavier weights, in a more secure fashion and the nature of the machine also allows users to work on their depth, going deeper into the squat for a greater range of motion.
The handles either side make it easy to lock the machine in place, further keeping you safe, and it is just another reason why it proves so popular for beginners or those that want to train heavy, but on their own.
As already mentioned, hack squats predominantly target the quadriceps and glutes although the hamstrings, adductors, abductors, and calves will also be under strain.
The main pro of the hack squat is its safety features.
There are many different reasons why someone may prefer a hack squat over a traditional barbell squat and safety is certainly one of them.
With shoulder pads, a secure line of movement and multiple locks and handles the hack squat provides you with the opportunity to very closely mimics a squat position, but under much safer conditions.
You can improve your technique and range of motion with great depth and consistency, whilst building muscle and increasing your strength all without worrying about causing harm to your body. As with all machines, there’s always a risk, but with the hack squat, that risk is greatly reduced.
The hack squat very closely mimics the squatting position, therefore if you suffer from a bad back or weak hips, you may find the hack squat difficult to perform.
Both machines have their merits and are certainly great options for your lower body programming, however, when it comes to which is best, it truly depends on you.
They both score highly on the safety front, although the leg press is slightly more risky, as the set up means the weights are coming back towards you as you lower them.
If you struggle with weak hips or knees then the hack squat could prove problematic for you, but if you suffer from a bad back, the leg press may be challenging.
If you’re fit and well and actually, both machines feel great, then it’s worth considering what your actual goals are.
The leg press allows more variance in the muscles which are trained and gives you more options for lower body development, but if you’re strong, and want to push further, the hack squat will often offer a higher amount of resistance to be used.
They really are two good options; however, if we had to pick one, our vote would go to the leg press.
The leg press allows for more muscles to be trained, giving you more range to really target and grow your legs and they are by far the more popular machine, being readily available in a high proportion of gyms.
We would like to see a higher weight limit possible and more safety locks on the machines, although if truth be told, that does differ from machine to machine and some are far greater than others.
When it comes down to it, and the need to build, develop and strengthen your legs, we feel the leg press is the better option.