There is a big dividing line in the fitness industry on whether squats are necessary. Although inherently dangerous there are just some benefits from squatting that you just can’t get from other leg workouts. Like a boost in testosterone, HGH levels, and it burn more calories than any other leg exercise.
But on the other hand squats are probably the most dangerous exercise if not done properly. So people tend to lean more towards leg presses, extensions, and perhaps the odd lunge.anti-squatters will speak of how guys like Dorian Yates rarely did free-weight back squats as part of his routine, yet was the dominant force in bodybuilding throughout the early and mid 1990’s.
Notable body builders that did squats are guys like Tom Platz, The oak, and Ronnie Coleman. This demonstrates that either method can work you can build muscle with or without squats.
In terms of muscle fibers hit in a single exercise you cannot argue against squatting. No isolation or machine will hit as many large muscle groups at the same time. But if growing your legs is your only goal maybe focusing directly on those muscles with leg press’s, lunges, and using machines is the way to go.
Where squats really stand above other leg exercises is overall volume. The higher your workout volume for a particular body part, the better your muscle growth, and the bigger impact on hypertrophy. Volume = weight x sets x reps.
Typically you can move much heavier weights with a back squat then you would with any other exercise. Say you squated 225 pounds for 5 sets of 5 reps that s a total volume of 5,625 lbs. If you did 1oo pund leg extensions leg extensions for 3 sets of ten reps that’s only 3000 pounds of total volume. You would have to almost double your sets or reps. In order to move the same amount of weight.
The danger of course moving so much weight is injury. Sure, any exercise can potentially cause an injury. We’ve all heard horror stories of the person who ruptured their ACL on the leg extension, or got a hernia when they sneezed. But when you witness squat related injuries such as Brandon Lilly’s horrendous incident from 2014, which resulted in tears in his quad and patella tendons, MCLs and meniscus in both legs, as well as tearing his ACL, hamstring tendon and breaking the patella in his left leg, it certainly makes you think.
So when it comes down to it you only really need to squat if you need a big squat i.e. powerlifters. For everyone else I recommend squating but it is not needed.
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