I have always admired the front squat as a lift. It is a challenge, brutally effective, yet highly underutilized. I started doing them after a shoulder injury prevented me from comfortably performing back squats. The first shock of doing the exercise is the pure humbling experience of having to cut down the weight I was used to lifting on the back squat. This is perhaps the main reason most people dont perform the lift, it puts your ego in serious check!
Ive been debating the front squat vs. the back squat with some coaches (because I am a geek like that, and thats what I do!) and the conclusion typically is that both versions have their benefits – proponents of the back squat love the classic exercise, and the fact you can put up huge numbers, those who back the front squat appreciate the fact that they are different and challenging. Both versions are extremely beneficial to getting someone stronger. Back squats are what most people are used to seeing, but there is one huge benefit to the front squat that makes it unique – you cannot perform it wrong, if you do, you drop the bar!
Dont be that person!
Now, the big debate has always been, “Which squat is more effective? Do they target different muscles?”
According to a recent article I came accross –
“The Jan 2009 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has a University of Florida study with this conclusion:
“The front squat was as effective as the back squat in terms of overall muscle recruitment, with significantly less compressive forces and extensor moments. The results suggest that front squats may be advantageous compared with back squats for individuals with knee problems such as meniscus tears, and for long-term joint health.”
The study also found that back squats had “significantly higher” spinal-compressive forces and greater torque on the knees. Another point for front squats is improved hip mobility. Since they force you to keep an upright position, you’re allowed to achieve a greater range of motion. This means your glutes, hams, and quads are working harder.”
Shes workin all right!
So the FRONT SQUAT –
1. Safer –
2.Better positioning creates MORE muscular activation – for the ladies, this means a sexy backside! For the men this means ladies will be trying to bounce quarters off your butt as you walk down the street!
3. No compression on the spine – no more wondering why your lower back hurts for “no apparent reason”!
4. Upright position forces abdominal musculature to work harder – legs and abs simultaneously?
5. Improved Hip Mobility – we ALL need that!
This lift is a true undersog that needs some more time to shine!
And Fellas – If you are not squatting – please remember my rule about squatting below . . .