Why Front Squat and not Back Squat? Is a question I have received many times from my athletes.
Whilst we have Front Squat and Back Squats as a cornerstone strength exercise in our strength training program, athletes seem to have a preference for Back Squats.
But the Front Squats offers benefits, that the Back Squat doesn’t offer.
This video and article discusses
- Why should you do Front Squats
- Why athletes hate Front Squats
- Why you should do Front Squats if you are an Olympic lifter or a Cross-fitter
Why Front Squat and what are the Front Squat benefits?
The Front Squat offers a variety of benefits and I have outlined the benefits in the article
In a nutshell, due to the bar position, the Front Squat requires a more upright upper body posture than the Back Squat and consequently focusses more concentrated work on the anterior side rather than the posterior side. In simple words, a stronger activation of the quadriceps muscle group.
Another Front Squat benefit is, that the Front Squat has a higher transfer to jump and sprint performance, than the Back Squat.
A recent study from Schmidtbleicher compared different squat variations, where they compared a full Front Squat, Full Back Squat and a Quarter Back Squat (check out the different squat variations in the article What is a Back Squat) and their effect on jump performance (CMJ = Counter-Movement Jumps and SJ = Squat Jump) and sprint performance (5 meter sprint, 10 meter sprint and 20 meter sprint).
This study could show, that the Front Squat yielded higher carry over to jump performance and sprint performance than the full Back Squat (whilst the full Back Squat yielded higher carry-over than the Quarter Back Squat). To the best of my knowledge, this study is only available in german language.
So, what is the bottom-line?
If you are engaging in any sport, where jumping and sprinting is crucial for your sports performance, the Front Squat should be a good a cornerstone strength exercise in your strength training program.
Why athletes hate Front Squats
Athletes tend to hate Front Squats for the simple reason, that they experience discomfort when they hold the barbell on the front of their shoulders and it is much more comfortable having the bar on your back.
The discomfort is typically experienced in the wrist, when you need to keep the bar I position, especially if you do more than 3 repetitions in the Front Squat and the bar tends to roll forward and the pressure on the wrists increase.
In addition to that, the bar position on the front of your shoulders is a balancing act, if you have the bar a little bit too low it rolls down if you push the bar too far up you can choke yourself.
So, what is the solution?
The simple solution is, you need to learn the correct bar position and practice it. The hard truth is, that the Front Squat isn’t the real problem for the discomfort, it’s the flawed execution, that leads to discomfort. Once you dominate the Front Squat technique you won’t have any of the aforementioned problems.
Why Front Squats are important for the Olympic Lifts
If you are an Olympic Lifter or a Cross-fitter, you the Clean or Power Clean are part of your competition. The Front Squat helps to improve the catch and recovery phase of the Clean and Power Clean. The catch phase is, where you receive the bar on your shoulders and decelerate and control the weight, the recovery phase is, where you recover from the catch position (the bottom position) and move into the end position.
For a more detailed overview of the different phases, check out
Concluding Why Front Squat
The Front Squat focuses more work and concentrated work on the anterior side of your legs, due to the more upright upper body position, as compared to the Back Squat.
The Front Squat has shown to have a higher carry-over to jump performance and sprint performance as the Back Squat.
And if you’re an Olympic lifter or Cross-fitter the front squat will help you with your Clean and/or Power Clean, which will help you achieve better results in your competition.
More information on the Front Squat
More Front Squat impressions in the Front Squat video library