This video and article review
- Why Front Squats are better than Back Squats
- Why Front Squats are better than Overhead Squats
- And what are the benefits of the Back Squat and the Overhead Squat, that the Front Squat can’t offer
Have you heard that Front Squats are better and you have asked yourself, Why Front Squats are better?
Well, the title ‘Why Front Squats Are Better’ is arguably a bit provocative, nevertheless the Front Squat offers a few benefits that other Squat variations, such as the Back Squat or Overhead Squat don’t offer and therefore in a certain way Front Squats are better.
However, too often I believe we put the cart before the horse, when we first chose the strength training exercise and then think about what it can do for you.
In my opinion, a better way to it is to determine what we want to achieve and then select the appropriate exercise. I have outlined the process I use in
- How to Begin Strength Training in 5 Steps
- How to Start Strength Training
- The Ultimate Guide to Strength Training for Beginners
Why Front Squats are better than Back Squats – Front Squats vs Back Squats
Due to the bar position on the front of your shoulders, you need to have an upright body posture in the Front Squat vs the Back Squat, otherwise, the bar will roll forward on your shoulders and you won’t be able to complete the lift.
While the Back Squat allows leaning forward, when the weight becomes heavier, check out the Back Squat technique analysis below to see what I mean
This means that the Front Squat focuses much more work on the anterior side (the quadriceps) of the lower body, without the posterior side (hamstring, glutes and lower back) to coming into play to take some work off.
That is, why we use the Front Squat, especially the Handsfree Front Squat to teach proper squatting form under heavy loaded conditions (I will explain that further down in the Front Squat vs Overhead Squat discussion), have a look at the following example how we use the Handsfree Front Squat to improve squatting mechanics
Kevin van den Groenendaal
Hetty van der Wouw
Zarah de Haan
This is also the reason why we use the Handsfree Front Squat vs the Back Squat with our young athletes that start engaging in strength training because it teaches them to learn and acquire the right squat technique.
So, what is the verdict for the Back Squat?
Should you then not only do Front Squats, if Front Squats are better than Back Squats?
The answer is a definitely ‘No’.
The most obvious reasons are
- You can load up the Back Squat much more than the Front Squat, so if you are interested in becoming stronger, more powerful and / or gain muscle mass, the Back Squat should be part of your strength training program
- The argument I used above for the Front Squat vs Back Squat, can also be used as an argument for the Back Squat. If you are interested in targeting the posterior side as well, the Back Squat is a great exercise to do that. If you are engaging in a sport, where a powerful hip extension is important, the Back Squat can definitely help you improve that.
Front Squat vs Back Squat Conclusion:
The Front Squat offers more benefits if you want to target the anterior chain and for learning and acquiring proper squatting technique and squatting mechanics.
The Back Squat offers more benefits if you want to load up and become stronger, more powerful or bigger.
Why Front Squats are better than Overhead Squats – Front Squats vs Overhead Squats
If you have read any of my articles, you might be wondering, why I advocate the Front Squat for learning and acquiring squatting technique in this article, while in previous articles I have been a strong proponent for having the Overhead Squat in your strength training program, because it’s the best exercise to learn the right squatting technique
- 9 Benefits of the Overhead Squat and counting…
- What Is The Overhead Squat Good For?
- 2 Facts On What The Overhead Squat Works
- What do Overhead Squats work?
Quite a few articles, right?
So, why is the Front Squat better than the Overhead Squat?
Similar to the Front Squat vs Back Squat discussion above, the disadvantage of one exercise is the advantage of the other exercise.
It is true, that the Overhead Squat trains the movement pattern of the squatting technique better than any other strength exercise. But I have also mentioned before that the limiting factor in the Overhead Squat is the upper body and more specifically the strength of the upper body. When you get stronger, you will get to a point, where your lower body is able to squat more than your upper body can possibly carry.
The Front Squat, however, including the Handsfree Front Squat allows you to lift fairly heavy loads once you get over the initial discomfort and get used to the exercise.
Just have a look at Twan van Gendt performing a Handsfree Front Squat with 160 kg.
At the moment the video was taken, his 1RM Back Squat of 220 kg, which equates to 72,7% of his 1RM Back Back.
Not too bad I would say, he would not be able to hold that weight over his head and squat.
Front Squat vs Overhead Squat Conclusion:
If it’s purely about learning and acquiring proper squatting technique and squatting mechanics, the Overhead Squat is the best exercise.
The problem with the Overhead Squat, however, is that the lower body is much stronger than the upper body and you won’t be able to set a stimulus to develop strength and / or power, or gain muscle mass.
How to apply and schedule the Overhead Squat for Beginners or advanced athletes read the article What Is The Overhead Squat Good For?
The Front Squat allows you to ‘kill these two birds with one stone’, learning and working on proper squatting form, while simultaneously build strength in your lower body.
Concluding Why Front Squats are Better
Front Squats offer benefits, that other common squat variations, such as Back Squat and Overhead Squat don’t offer. However, the Front Squat is not a ‘one size fits all’ squat solution, as the Back Squat and Overhead Squat also offer unique benefits, that the Front Squat can’t offer.
It is important to understand, which these individual benefits are and then uses them in your training according to what you want to achieve.
- Overload the lower body and train a strong hip extension, chose the Back Squat
- Overload the anterior chain chose the Front Squat
- Work on squatting form and train the lower body chose the Handsfree Front Squat
- Learn, acquire and consolidate squatting form, chose the Overhead Squat
More information on the Front Squat
More Front Squat impressions in the Front Squat video library