You know, what you can Back Squat, but you don’t know, what you can Front Squat and ask yourself ‘What percentage of your Back Squat should you Front Squat?’
This article and video discusses
If you can Back Squat 100 kg, what should you Front Squat/ For this it is helpful to know the Back Squat vs Front Squat ratio.
What percentage of your Back Squat should you Front Squat?
I for myself with my athletes, I have found that the range is somewhere between 80 – 90% with some exceptions to the rule, that I have trained athletes who could Front Squat more than 90% of their Back Squat 1 RM in the Front Squat 1 RM.
That means, if you can Back Squat 100 kg for 3 reps, you should be able to Front Squat 80 – 90% for 3 reps, hence 80 kg to 90 kg for 3 reps.
If you can Back Squat 100 kg for 1 rep, you should be able to Front Squat 80kg to 90 kg for 1 rep.
It’s important to clarify, that you need to compare 3 reps to 3 reps, 1 rep to 1 rep, etc. because I recently had this discussion, where this concept wasn’t really clear and therefore I wanted to clarify this.
If you look in the literature or on popular websites, you will find that Back Squat to Front Squat ratio is around 80% – 85%.
On the other hand, Charles Poliquin describes the Front Squat to Back Squat ratio between 70 – 85 %.
Consequently, the bottom line is, that it is a range, much rather than a specific number, and this range is between 80% – 90%.
But you can also flip the ratio around and look at the Front Squat to Back Squat ratio.
What is the Front Squat to Back Squat ratio?
Much rather than looking at the Back Squat to Front Squat ratio, you can also look at the Front Squat to Back Squat ratio, this ratio is between 110% – 125%. Which means you can Back Squat 110 – 125% of your Front Squat.
Hence, if you can Front Squat 100 kg for 2 reps, you should be able to Back Squat 110 – 125 kg for 2 reps.
Why should you do that, why is that Front Squat to Back Squat weight ratio important?
For me, the Front Squat to Back Squat conversion is important because when our young athletes start training with me, I start with the Front Squat and the Overhead Squat as a primary squatting pattern and introduce the Back Squat at a later stage.
The reason for my approach is, that the Front Squat, as well as the Overhead Squat, teaches better squatting mechanics, and allows for less compensatory movement.
As an example, in the bottom position of a Back Squat, there is always the chance, you start rising with your hip, which can lead to teaching yourself a wrong squatting pattern.
This is the main reason, why I use the Front Squat because it forces you into a better position and to maintain that position with an upright torso and torso angle when squatting.
For more details on that approach, check out Why Front Squats are better
How long do we Front Squat, before we start to Back Squat?
Generally speaking the first 12 months my athletes do only Overhead Squats and Front Squats and then I start to introduce the Back Squat.
In my experience after 6 – 12 months the squatting pattern has consolidated and you can transition from the seamlessly from the Front Squat to the Back Squat and the athletes are able to maintain the correct squatting pattern in the Back Squat.
What does that mean for the Front Squat to Back Squat ratio?
When I introduce the Back Squat after 12 months of only Front Squatting, the question in the young athletes come up ‘How much weight should I use in the Back Squat? I only know how much I am able to Front Squat.’
I usually don’t do a 1 RM test after 12 months of training, but I have a good idea what any athlete can Front Squat for 3 to 4 repetitions with good Front Squat technique, from this 3 or 4 repetitions, I can predict the Front Squat 1 RM and then predict the range of the Back Squat 1 RM.
How does that work?
Pretty simple, if you predict your Front Squat 1 RM with a 100 kg and use the Front Squat to Back Squat conversion from above, you know the predicted Back Squat 1 RM is between 110 kg and 125 kg.
Or, if you want to make it easier or simpler for you and your athlete, take the weight of the 3 to 4 repetitions of Front Squats and prescribe, that the athlete should be able to do 110 – 125% of the same number of repetitions in the Back Squat.
The pros and cons of using the Back Squat vs Front Squat ratio
Next, to the practical application of knowing the Back Squat vs Front Squat ratio, as well as the Front Squat vs Back Squat ratio, that I have outlined, there are a few important considerations.
What are those considerations?
I find the approach of Charles Poliquin interesting, that he uses in the article mentioned above to use the Back Squat vs Front Squat weight ratio as an indication of structural balance.
What does that mean?
The idea is, that if you are not within the range, it is an indication of a structural imbalance and therefore the ratio can be used as a screening tool.
The negatives about these type of ratios that I found is, that athletes tend to take them a bit too serious, and I had athletes in the past, that freaked out if they were not within the range.
Again, it is a range, and if you are a little bit outside of this range it’s still acceptable.
Back Squat vs Front Squat ratio conclusion
So, how much of your Back Squat should you be able to Front Squat?
The Back Squat to Front Squat ratio is somewhere between 80% – 90%, which means you can Front Squat 80 – 90% of the weight you Back Squat for a given number of repetitions and this needs to be the same number of repetitions.
If you reverse the ratio, you should be able to Back Squat 110% – 125% of your Front Squat, which is helpful in cases like I have outlined above, when you know the weight you can Front Squat, but not the weight you can Back Squat.
Anyway, whether you compare the Back Squat to the Front Squat or vice versa, make sure you go through the same range of motion, otherwise, you end up comparing apples with oranges.