Front Squat Vs Back Squat - AnabolicMinds.com
    • Front Squat Vs Back Squat


      By Jeremey DuVall, M.S., CPT Men's Fitness

      When it comes to building a herculean lower body, squats should be a key part of any routine. In fact, if lifters aren’t including multiple squat variations in their workouts, they’re missing the opportunity to help build a lean physique. By engaging nearly every muscle in the body (not just the legs), they help to stimulate muscle-building hormones like growth hormone and IGF-1.

      In terms of variations, there are numerous ways to load up a typical squat including a barbell on the back, in front, or overhead. Lifters can also utilize a dumbbell to make the move more challenging. The two most common variations are back squats and front squats, which both use a barbell to increase the difficulty of the exercise. However, despite their similarities, these two are actually quite different in the muscles they affect and the stresses they place on the body.

      The Back vs. Front Debate

      Back squats place more of the load on the posterior half - namely the glutes and hamstrings. Since the weight is loaded almost directly down the spine, they also place compressive forces on the vertebra meaning they force the core to do more work to protect the lower back. For those worried about back problems down the road, trainer and Medical and Rehabilitation Coordinator Dean Somerset, CSCS, argues that nearly any exercise can cause problems when done incorrectly. “The spine is great at buffering compressive forces, as long as you're not flexing or rotating it under tension. As soon as you start collapsing and rounding forward, your back takes a beating, no matter what kind of loading you use with it.” Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain an upright torso and avoid falling forward when driving up from the bottom of a squat.

      In contrast to back squats, which place the barbell on the upper back, front squats challenge the body by placing the barbell in front resting on the shoulders. By pulling the body forward and increasing knee flexion as a lifter descends into a squat, front squats place more emphasis on the quads rather than the glutes. They also challenge the lower back to remain upright and prevent the torso from falling forward. Somerset uses front squats to force lifters deeper into a squat and also to focus on core control. “People tend to focus on their core more when they front squat than when they back squat, so the awareness makes the exercise a completely different challenge.”

      The Training Balance

      Squats should be a staple in any lifter’s routine looking to build muscle and strength or just enhance quality of life. To change up your routine, include both front and back squat variations. Since front squats are often more challenging for lifters to master, focus on using lighter weights to establish the form before loading up the bar. Use the following progression to amp up your lower body routine and attack both the front and back squat in your workouts:
      Directions:

      Perform the following lift (either back or front squat) at the beginning of your routine. Allow at least two days in between sessions for your lower body to recover. During this time, incorporate upper body lifting days as normal.
      Week 1:
      Day 1 Back Squat; Sets: 3 Reps: 5
      Day 2: Front Squats; Sets: 3 Reps: 10-12
      Week 2:
      Day 1: Back Squats; Sets 4 Reps: 5
      Day 2: Front Squats; Sets: 4 Reps: 10-12
      Week 3:
      Day 1: Back Squat; Sets: 3 Reps: 3
      Day 2: Front Squats; Sets: 3 Reps: 8-10
      Week 4:
      Day 1: Back Squats; Sets 4 Reps: 3
      Day 2: Front Squats; Sets: 4 Reps: 8-10

      Source: http://www.mensfitness.com/training/...-vs-back-squat
      Comments 8 Comments
      1. Blue Reflex's Avatar
        Blue Reflex -
        Umm I have to disagree with this post. Due to surgeries on both shoulders, my range of motion is limited. So behind the back is very uncomfortable so I use the front method. I think I've gotten great results. Thus, heavy weight means you have no choice but to use every muscle to get that steel up. I think its all about comfort bro!
      1. DownUnder's Avatar
        DownUnder -
        On what tissues do you think that 695 lbs in the front squat is sitting on, make that grinding and smashing on? Let me tell you. It's directly on the shoulder joint structures: the muscle, ligaments, joint capsule and sitting directly on the unprotected AC joint. I have tried these. The bar doesn't sit perfectly still. It rolls a little bit both ways because it is being stabilized by by what two fingers worth of pressure. If you are looking for a chance to compress and inflame your delicate shoulder structure, I'd say have at it. There a lot better ways in the gym to put load on your leg and hip structure than front squats pictured above. The ego should be left at home when picking exercises. If you do injure your shoulder structure, you can't train. Is it worth it? Not for me.
      1. Blue Reflex's Avatar
        Blue Reflex -
        Originally Posted by DownUnder View Post
        On what tissues do you think that 695 lbs in the front squat is sitting on, make that grinding and smashing on? Let me tell you. It's directly on the shoulder joint structures: the muscle, ligaments, joint capsule and sitting directly on the unprotected AC joint. I have tried these. The bar doesn't sit perfectly still. It rolls a little bit both ways because it is being stabilized by by what two fingers worth of pressure. If you are looking for a chance to compress and inflame your delicate shoulder structure, I'd say have at it. There a lot better ways in the gym to put load on your leg and hip structure than front squats pictured above. The ego should be left at home when picking exercises. If you do injure your shoulder structure, you can't train. Is it worth it? Not for me.

        I agree with you bro! I don't go heavy on the squats at all. Why n the hell would someone wanna push damn near 700 lbs out their arse anyway! Lol!!
      1. augie11's Avatar
        augie11 -
        I'd be more concerned about growing a skinny beard.
      1. aceroni's Avatar
        aceroni -
        Originally Posted by Blue Reflex View Post
        Umm I have to disagree with this post. Due to surgeries on both shoulders, my range of motion is limited. So behind the back is very uncomfortable so I use the front method. I think I've gotten great results. Thus, heavy weight means you have no choice but to use every muscle to get that steel up. I think its all about comfort bro!
        First off, That's what safety squat bars are for
        Secondly, squatting is not supposed to be comfortable. If you want to progress anywhere in your life you have to step out of your comfort zone. That's all there is to it

        Originally Posted by Blue Reflex View Post

        I agree with you bro! I don't go heavy on the squats at all. Why n the hell would someone wanna push damn near 700 lbs out their arse anyway! Lol!!
        I would. Who WOULDN'T want to back squat 700lb??
      1. Blue Reflex's Avatar
        Blue Reflex -
        Originally Posted by aceroni View Post
        First off, That's what safety squat bars are for
        Secondly, squatting is not supposed to be comfortable. If you want to progress anywhere in your life you have to step out of your comfort zone. That's all there is to it



        I would. Who WOULDN'T want to back squat 700lb??
        To each is own bro! Your missing what I'm saying. I'm all about stepping out of that comfort zone. I talking about a position that you feel confident in and not being injuried or re-injuried.
      1. DownUnder's Avatar
        DownUnder -
        Walking into traffic is stepping out your comfort zone also and not too smart. Stepping out of your comfort zone is an ego statement. If you are in it for that thats fine. The article was not about safety squats. If it was I would say that is a whole different animal. What I was saying is how the front squat is pictured, which is how most people I have seen do them, is not a good way to load the legs and hip structures because it contains too much risk to delicate structures, all so you transfer more of the load to the quads. It is easy to load the quads without this movement is my point.
      1. aceroni's Avatar
        aceroni -
        Originally Posted by DownUnder View Post
        Walking into traffic is stepping out your comfort zone also and not too smart. Stepping out of your comfort zone is an ego statement. If you are in it for that thats fine. The article was not about safety squats. If it was I would say that is a whole different animal. What I was saying is how the front squat is pictured, which is how most people I have seen do them, is not a good way to load the legs and hip structures because it contains too much risk to delicate structures, all so you transfer more of the load to the quads. It is easy to load the quads without this movement is my point.
        I'm not even sure what you mean man, all i'm saying is listen to your body. If you're feeling strong go after it, and don't be afraid to struggle a little under the weight, that's how strength and myofibril gains are made.

        Never sacrifice form for weight, i'm not saying that.. If you feel weak or tight, just back off a little that day.

        And I love front squats but if inn going heavy i'm back squatting.

        Also, I train for no one but myself.
        I don't train for my ego I train for progression. I've been training since I was fourteen years old. I love training and I will train until the day I die.