Differences And Benefits Of Back Vs Front Squats

Back Squats

Back squats are an essential exercise in any program

Want results from your workout program? It’s time to get squats into the picture.

Few exercises deliver the type of results of that squats bring, which is why they’re so critical to have in every exercise plan.

That said, there are a couple of variations of squats so understanding what these variations are and which will be best for you is also another factor to consider.

In particular, today we’re going to look at the front squat versus the back squat.  Each brings its own benefits. Here’s what to consider.

The Flexibility Requirement

The first thing to note is that front squats will require more flexibility than back squats, so for those of you who tend to be quite stiff and inflexible, back squats may be your better option.

When you are doing front squats, you need to keep your upper back mobile so that you can keep your chest up, which is something that some people really struggle with.

Likewise, your shoulders and wrists need to be able to properly rest the bar across the chest as well, which again, take some flexibility.  With back squats, you just won’t have this worry.

Keep in mind that you do still need some degree of flexibility to perform back squats as well, so if you are very stiff, start your stretching exercises now.

Shoulder Joint Health

Another factor that you should take into account when deciding which variation of squat to do is your shoulder health.

Placing the bar across your back is going to place strain on the shoulder and it must be strong enough to be able to balance the bar there as you lower down into the squat.

If you are coming off any type of shoulder injury (or currently suffering), this could make it challenging to maintain proper form.

In that case, you may want to instead do front squats.  Give your shoulders the break they need.

Front Squats

Front squats put more focus on the quads than back squats

Elbow Joint Health

On the flip side, front squatting will place more strain on your elbows as they do more work to hold the bar in place as it’s across the chest, therefore if you are suffering from an elbow injury or shoulder impingement, you could find yourself irritating these injuries as well.

Lower Back Strength

Finally, the last factor to consider is your lower back strength level.

If you are low bar back squatting, you are going to be required to adopt a slight forward lean as you squat in order to keep the bar balanced over your body.

This can then, in weak individuals, lead to lower back pain, so care must be taken. If you don’t feel as though you possess a good degree of lower back strength, you may be better off focusing on high bar back squats or front squats instead.

These will allow you to keep the body more upright, thus reducing the chances that you start to experience problems.

So all in all, which squat is best? There’s no right or wrong answer here, but rather it comes down to personal preference, any injuries you are experiencing, as well as the overall results you hope to see.

Keep in mind that front squats will hit the quads to a slightly greater degree while back squats will tend to work the hamstrings and glutes to a larger extent.

In the best case scenario, you would alternate between the variations, enjoying the best of both worlds.

However, if you feel great discomfort in any one squat variation, don’t force yourself to do it.  Learn what works for you and then focus on gaining strength through that exercise.