So I recently started a new workout regimen (it changes every 4 weeks) and for the next 4 weeks we are doing front squats! Now because this particular exercise is new to me I decided to find out the benefits of doing fronts squats over rear squats. When doing front squats here are some listed advantages:
1. Great quad workout: The front squat is an excellent movement to get bigger, stronger quads–probably the best exercise there is. Because you’re position is more upright, it emphasizes the quads more.
2. Stronger core – Because you’re holding the weight in front of your body, and you must remain upright your entire core gets a great workout trying to stabilize the weight and keep you upright. If you find you’re leaning forward a lot when you back squat, you’ll quickly get stronger and fix this problem if you switch to front squats for a while.
3. Improves your technique: Because the bar is placed in front of you, on your shoulders, the front squat is a lot like other exercises and strengthens the “base” of those lifts/presses. Power Cleans, Overhead Presses, Overhead Squats, etc all share the same “starting” position as the front squat. Getting stronger and more comfortable with Front Squats will help you in those exercises too.
4. More Natural Spine Position: You’re more upright with the front squat… your spine is in a more neutral “straight” position. This combined with the fact you’re lifting less weight is healthier for your spine in the long run.
5. Much better for your lower back: Most people have lower back problems and back squats aggravate these conditions. But because your upper body is mostly upright (instead of leaning forward like in a back squat) there’s less force on your lower back. I started front squatting after I hurt my lower back.
So what’s the difference between the front vs back squat?
Bar Placement. The position of the bar influences the center of gravity during Front & Back Squats.
Front Squat. Weight on front shoulders. Torso upright. Hip extension.
Back Squat. Weight on your back. Torso leans forward. Back extension.
The Back Squat is a hip dominant exercise. But technically you’re doing a back extension — a Good Morning. Your hips stays rigid while your torso extends. With Front Squats your torso stays rigid and your hips extend.
Muscles Worked. Your whole legs are worked when you squat. But some muscles are worked more depending on the bar position.
Front Squat. Quadriceps dominant exercise.
Back Squat. Hip dominant exercise.
You fear getting huge glutes: Front Squat. You need a very strong posterior chain: Back Squat.
Maximum Weight. Front Squats are harder than Back Squats.
Grip. You can’t squeeze the bar. Hands are open.
Upper Back. Much harder to tighten it compared to Back Squats.
Posterior Chain. Sit back too much & you’ll lose the bar.
You can’t Front Squat as much as with a Back Squat. Last time I checked I had a 112,5kg rock bottom Front Squat and a 120kg Back Squat. I didn’t Back Squat for several months. So it would end up higher by doing them more.
Lower Back. One benefit of the Front Squat that made me drop Back Squats. The Front Squat is friendlier on your lower back.
Less Torque. Your torso is more upright.
Less Weight. Less spinal compression.
Continue to Back Squat if your lower back is healthy. Else try Front Squats.
So which do you choose? Front Squats or Back Squats? 3 reasons to switch to Front Squats:
You’re not a powerlifter. You just want strength.
Lower Back problems. Front Squat are the alternative if you have some.
Posterior Chain emphasis is less important. You’re already getting plenty from Deadlifts, Power Cleans, …
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