Should You Back Squat or Front Squat?


-May 3rd, 2012-

The squat is regarded as one of the greatest exercises for building lower body strength.

It is also a fundamental movement pattern that every athlete needs to master.

With every player I begin working with, I have them do a bodyweight squat in warm up to make sure that they have the proper technique and don’t have any limitations in mobility that will prevent us from loading the squat with weight.

If they do have proper form, we want to get into loading the movement as soon as possible to increase strength.

And when we do load it, I only use Front Squats!

There are a few reasons for this.

The Front Squat requires the athlete to maintain proper upper body posture, with the chest out and head up. This puts the spine in a better position and prevents you from bending forward and putting excess pressure on the lower back.

Squat Difference

The Second reason I prefer the Front Squat is that it teaches my athletes how to hold the bar in the Catch position of the Hang Clean. At first it may seem uncomfortable but that is normal. Ultimately if an athlete can’t get into the starting position of the Front Squat I can’t even begin to teach them the Hang Clean.

Lastly, you can’t lift as much weight in a Front Squat as you can with a Back Squat.

This may sound counterproductive but too often people overload the back squat and then very quickly the range of motion becomes decreased.

A proper squat has the Femur, the large bone in your thigh, parallel to the ground at the bottom position as shown above. The heavily loaded Back Squat usually ends up with people putting on too much weight and then only performing a half squat!

You may be able to lift more weight with a Back Squat, but I guarantee you Front Squats are harder. That is why less people perform them.

I hear lots of reasons from people about why they like Back Squats better, but after talking with them while we perform Front Squats the truth always comes out: They flat out don’t like Front Squats because they are harder!

The Front Squat puts you in a better, safer body position and requires less weight to achieve the same goal of building lower body strength, while at the same time teaching my athletes how to hold the bar in the catch position of the Hang Clean.

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