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Alternative to Leg Press

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  • Alternative to Leg Press

    Hey guys,

    I have been doing leg press as the supplemental deadlift method 2 on the 12 Week Strength strength template because I'm more susceptible to "good morning-ing" my squats than "leg pressing" them. I'm currently experiencing some lower back pain and have been trying to be more cognizant of movements that cause this pain to flare up. It turns out that leg press is one of these movements - I think I tend to lift my butt up slightly off the seat when I get to the bottom of the movement, throwing my lumbar spine into slight flexion. I realize that I could probably just cut my ROM short and basically "half press," but I'd rather just do something else entirely.

    My gym has both a belt squat and a hack squat machine. I can always do stuff like lunges as well. Which alternative would you recommend?

  • #2
    My recommendation is the belt squat, but I simply have a bias for this movement over the hack squat - try both and opt for whichever you prefer, since they are both fine alternatives.

    However, you can modify your leg press programming if you wish to work with this pain you're experiencing and progress to this movement being pain-free or with reduced pain (eventually). Obviously, follow the first step of keeping calm and keeping yourself from getting lost in the biomechanical weeds when you experience pain. It might not be due to some slight flexion in your lumbar segment, and I'm inclined to believe this isn't the issue since you may enter more flexion on your deadlifts and squats - neither of which you've mentioned in this post as being painful - than may be apparent to you. Second, you should try modifying the exercise intensity to find a load that allows you to complete this movement without pain. The third step is to find a slight ROM modification of this original movement that allows you to complete the movement without pain, which would be a partial leg press in your case. This option is off the table since you mentioned that you do not wish to perform this half press, indicating that your next step would be to experiment with the belt squat or hack squat machines.