Hello John,

Just found your presentation on YouTube, very interesting. I am a strength equipment design engineer. I invented the 1st weight stack machine allowing for anytime weight change, without touching the pin or stopping the exercise. I have a few patents and a number of advanced strength machine concepts that go beyond what is on the conventional market; 

I am a big fan of the philosophy “if you want become more functional in anything, get stronger first”…

My new leg press machine allows for the user to avoid carrying, loading,
unloading plates and has a contained plate transfer system that you might
be interested in hearing about – its being developed right now.

say hello when you can and thank you. 

Scott from NH

This email came through the other day to my Talk To Me Johnnie contact page. The Raven email at my TTMJ is a general email so various people respond to it. This time however, I was responding to what I thought would open up some dialogue with Scott about his leg press. I have to admit my knowledge of the leg press is limited. I have only used it during my rehab from knee surgery and once I was able to squat, I simply do not use it.

What I got in return is the stuff of legends or trolls. I am up in the air if I am being trolled or maybe this dude is off his rocker. Read on and make your own judgement.

I decided since Scotty from New Hampshire wasn’t going to speak on the virtues of his machine but instead give me a lesson in Strength Training, I would respond in this post below.


I have some time today to discuss this so let me start here. I don’t know you but after reading your response I have even less desire to do anything outside this email response.

I do have a few rhetorical questions, did you dictate that shit? Because that is some incoherent nonsense. I feel like you could be a crazy person.

And have you played any sport at a competitive level? Trained at a high level? I am assuming no.

Here is the deal, you contacted me about a leg press. I think the leg press has little value outside of the rehabilitation for injuries. I have never known it as a performance tool. I asked you how yours was different in hopes of some education and instead of talking about the virtues of your leg press you have the balls to hit send on this bullshit.

But in this digital age where everyone is an expert and blackbelt in Google Fu, I should not be surprised.

I have not altered your email and answered your statements which are pink so you can see how insane it looks and sounds. Go back through it and read it from my perspective – a guy sees my talk on youtube, emails me about a piece of equipment and when he doesn’t get the response, he goes postal.

Not how I would have played my hand but lets dive in.

hello raven…
let me start by saying you may turn out to find my next
sentence a little phony,but its not…:
i mean no disrespect with the substance of my reply….

This reminds me when someone says, “hey don’t take this personal but…” The thing out of their mouth is usually very personal and not constructive in anyway. And just saying “I mean no disrespect” doesn’t get you off the hook or help you avoid a curb stomping.
now,the substance….your point is terribly FLAWED….and

How so? I define power as an athlete’s ability to display their strength dynamically. Something that is next to impossible with a leg press. A leg press is about as useful to sport as herpes on a first date.

your going to find i use word flawed often here…you seem to be VERY confused about some of the factors that contribute to “athleticism”,which is broad ranging term with different interpretations..

I have to disagree. I define athleticism as “the ability to seamlessly and effortlessly combine Primal movement patterns through space to accomplish a known or novel task.” Most sports scientists define terms so they can support them with their work and research – I am no different. My company started in 2009 with the singular goal of fostering and developing athleticism. To make this happen, I had to define athleticism, put programs together to lead individuals towards this goal and then test the programs on actual people. 10 years later, I have worked with tens of thousands of athletes on every continent on the planet and with every professional and Olympic sport – all this after playing in the NFL for a decade.

And never once used a leg press in those training programs.

I am not some “equipment designer” with a hotmail.com email address talking about a leg press with no leg to stand on (see what I did here with the pun?).

when i made comments about my equipment, i am speaking PURELY of STRENGTH.

First off, do you know what strong is? Have you ever been strong or trained anyone to be strong? If you have you would know that no one asks about their leg press PR.

Second, if training for pure strength was all that mattered and is supremely beneficial, why is the NFL not comprised of dudes that squat 1000+ pounds or the local guy down at Gold’s leg pressing 2 tons? Mainly, because absolute strength is just part of the equation. The strength, balance, coordination and skill it takes to play high level sports is more akin to taking a loaded free weight through a full range of motion than sitting in a leg press and pushing real hard. It simply is not similar enough to be the keystone to a performance based training program.

Strength developed on it’s own, without consideration for other performance traits is useless for sport and useless in the context in which I use it.

training for balance….IS NOT….training for strength.

We see this problem the world over with uneducated people peering into the strength game, they think they can develop traits in a vacuum and not affect the entire system. Strength alone without the skill or ability to use it in a meaningful way is useless.

training for agility…IS NOT….training for strength.

I am guessing you have never trained anyone to move through space, change direction and play sports.

training for coordination….IS NOT….training for strength…

Coordination is a fundamental component in “training for strength” – inter and intra-muscular coordination is coordination, number, rate and pattern encoding are forms of motor unit coordination that represent an efficient CNS which is paramount for displaying high levels of not just absolute strength, but also POWER and SPEED – why would you think you can develop strength without coordination?

Intra-muscular coordination is the activation of individual neuromuscular motor units (MU) within a muscle fiber. Number encoding controls muscle tension by activating or deactivating certain numbers of fibers. The activation of individual muscle fibers is dependent on rate coding (modification of the firing rate of fibers), and the synchronization of the different fiber types (pattern encoding).

Strength training is known to lead to increase the firing rate which in turn increases the strength of a muscular contraction. As I mentioned, this is coordination.

They have done extensive studies comparing movements, like a barbell squat (front and back) to a leg press for MU recruitment – the leg press has never been considered anything more than a punchline on an instagram meme.

“As the differences between both training groups were also statistically significant, it can be concluded that training using the barbell squat is superior to the leg-press (concerning increases in jump performance). Probably, the greater benefit of the barbell squat is that the body position corresponds better with the tested jumps. The similarities of the squat and the SJ / CMJ are likely to facilitate the transfer of performance increases. Therefore, it seems to be easier for the CNS to transfer a high level of activation between these three motor tasks compared to the leg-press. Aside from this, it was still surprising that changes of the LP group did not reach significance as the maximum dynamic strength gains were high. Therefore, it was expected to find at least some transfer of the enhanced ability to activate the muscles in the SJ and CMJ.”


“Therefore, the squat exercise increased the performance in SJ, CMJ, and reactive strength index more effectively compared with the leg-press in a short-term intervention. Consequently, if the strength training aims at improving jump performance, the squat should be preferred because of the better transfer effects.”


When muscles work against resistance they recruit MU to overcome said resistance. The greater the number of motor units recruited during a task the greater the force that is applied. Strength training leads to improvements in all aspects of intra-muscular coordination – number, rate, and pattern encoding. And as these types of coordination increase, so does our strength.

there is ONLY ONE WAY to train for strength: strength training.

That is very poetic. Did you come up with this yourself?

furthermore,if someone is training for balance in a particular
SPORT,they generally CANNOT train for balance in THAT sport by training for balance in some unrelated activity…for example,when some IDIOT holds a barbell above their head while standing on a bosu ball,that IDIOT is accomplishing mostly NOTHING! but a risk for injury.

I actually agree with the statement that talks about the lack of application a bosu ball has to sport. I think your leg press and your belief that absolute strength is the singular goal in strength training for athletes falls right into that camp.

But do you know what piece of equipment is in 32 NFL weight rooms? Bosu balls. Do you know what is none of the 32 NFL weight rooms? Your leg press.

The goal of strength training is not to get you better at your sport. That happens on the field as you practice and compete in your sport. The goal of training is to sharpen the proverbial “blade” and work to develop athleticism, strength, power and speed so you can be more useful on the field.

The fitness industry is a CESSPOOL of incompetence. 

I am seeing it right here in this exchange.

I could not agree more – the incoherent nature of this email leads me to believe the same thing and also confirms your status.

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR TRAINING FOR STRENGTH. and there is also no substitute for acquiring the SKILLS of a particular sport,other than
practicing a particular sport…

You are actually correct on that one, strength is the platform on which all physical training activity is built. I think a leg press is a piss poor way to develop strength. Any strength gleaned from the leg press has little to no carry over to improving someone’s performance under the barbell or on the field. It has little to no carryover in any practical applications outside of deconditioned peripheral arterial disease patients looking to improve cardiovascular fitness while walking.


your analysis of a leg press vs a squat (though you may not realize it),is telling me,that you are VERY out of touch with exercise science…

Well you contacted me, so what does that say about you?

you said “I cant see the carryover of a leg press to athleticism as there is no element of balance.”

your statement is a confusing mess….. 

How so? When an athlete takes a heavy bar out of the rack, stands erect with an isometric hold, they develops stability. The balance, coordination and strength needed to descend in the squat (eccentric) make a smooth transition (amortization) and stand back up (concentric) is useful for sport and developing athleticism. But it is just one component. Making sure you are increasing the speed of your movement as mechanical advantage increases in your lifts is vital to developing speed and power – this is called Compensatory Acceleration and was popularized by the late Fred Hatfield. It’s a shame you didn’t get to have a few conversations with this man before he passed, like I did.

balance has NOTHING to do with strength training, which is putting maximal tension on a muscle in a highly structured way to bring about increases the ability of that muscle to develop more tension after training (leg press),and to develop all of the connective tissues (ligaments,tendons,etc) that support motion with physical demand,to help resist injury;NO AMOUNT OF BALANCING OR AGILITY OR WTF ELSE,IS GOING TO help muscles to be at their strongest…
and having the strongest possible muscles and connective tissue,are the ONLY WAY…..for someone to be more functional.
functional training is mostly bullshit without stronger muscles,joints.
this is all exercise 101.

I disagree. If the leg press was such a vital part of the training then why don’t we test the leg press in competition? What about the NFL combine? Why don’t Olympic weightlifters  leg press for their training? How come NFL weight rooms don’t emphasize the leg press as a primary movement? I have seen guys leg press for years and have never seen any carry over to sport.

Short story – When I was in high school I trained with a guy named George Zangas. George was pretty famous powerlifting coach who trained myself and a few others in his garage. We were all at least 400+ pound squatters in high school; legit squats, not the stuff you see at the local gyms. We had an inter-district event where the football teams competed in events. They decided they didn’t want to risk injury so the dusted off the leg press for the leg strength event. All the other teams got excited because their guys were big leg press guys. My training partners and myself having never done a leg press won the event. I have to be honest and say it was close, we barely won. But after some shit talking over the next few days we went back to the weight room and loaded up the squat rack. Those guys who were close to us in the leg press couldn’t even take 400 pounds out of the rack let alone squat it.

Even as a 16 year old kid, I knew there was no value in a movement that didnt require technique and skill to display your strength.

“Been to countless gyms and see dudes stack a leg press with plates and cant squat 3 wheels.”
im sorry, its just another screwy comment;leg press and squat both have their benefits,if you understand whats going on…

This is true, I have been to countless gyms and seen many a douche bag pack dozens of plates on a leg press to inflate their ego only to roll over to the squat rack and quarter squat 225 pounds like a dog shitting a razor blade.

If the leg press had similar value to a squat wouldn’t it be a two way street? Wouldn’t a strength increase in a leg press increase drive an increase in squat weight?

It doesn’t and never has. Much like the time I’ve spent with this exchange, the time wasted on a leg press will be gone forever. It could have been spent on something that would contribute to performance and betterment.

Not time wasted on fruitless exchanges in fantasyland.