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Best Squat Style to Build Strength – Front Squat vs. Back Squat

Squats should be a staple in most fitness routines.  From bodyweight squats to resistance band squats to free-weight squats, there is an option for almost every level of fitness.

For those who are a bit more advanced in their squat, a bit of a debate has developed what it comes to the back squat  – where the bar is placed across the upper back – vs. the front squat  – where the external load is placed in the front of the body, typically across the front of the shoulders.

So…

Which is better – Front squats or Back squats?

First let’s take a quick look at the focus of each exercise.

Back squats place more of an emphasis on the posterior half of the legs, so the glutes and hamstrings tend to do a bit more of the work.

Because of the bar positioning, back squats also tend to force the core to do more work to protect the low back.  This obviously means that proper form is vital to the back squat.

In contrast, the front squat places more of an emphasis on the quads because the positioning of the weight in front of the body causes more knee flexion.  This often results in people being able to go deeper into the squat at the bottom position.

The core also comes into play on the front squats by preventing the torso from leaning too far forward, making it different than in the back squat.

Front squats also allow for a bit more variation in that users can do them with a barbell, a set of dumbbells or kettlebells, or even a looped resistance band.

The bottom line is both types of squats have their place and should be a part of a well-rounded lower body workout.

About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.

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