So the question is front squats or back squats? Which is better?
Well let’s highlight some of the pros and cons of each one and hopefully you can decide for yourself.
The back squat has the title “king of exercises” for a reason. It targets most of the major muscle groups in the lower body including the quads, hamstrings and glutes as well as forcing your core to work hard and your whole upper body to stabilise the movement, add to that an awesome hormonal response and you’ve probably got one of, if not, the best exercise for fat loss, muscle building, strength and being an all round bad ass. However, this does require that we squat correctly – that means ass to grass, neutral posture and not the typical good morning/half squat that we see most people perform in the gym.
This is where front squats come in. Now don’t get me wrong, front squats are an awesome exercise all on their own, but if you find yourself not going all the way down in your back squat and your back is hunched over then give front squats a try, they will give you a slap in the face like you’ve never experienced. A front squat will keep you honest, it won’t let you cheat, ie you can’t lift the ass and hips first, you’re head and chest have to come up! If you don’t you will drop the bar or give yourself a massive injury. Now we are probably all guilty of this little trick, I know I am, putting a extra few kilos on your back squat to fuel you’re massive ego, then proceed to perform some kind of weird looking half squat, half good morning back extension, then kid yourself that you’re squat weight just went up 20kg from the week before. Don’t do that, it’s stupid.
Front squats are also great for highlighting flexibility issues. You have to be mobile in the shoulders, wrists, lats, hips and also have a healthy spine to perform them correctly. There is nowhere to hide. If you find you have issues then fix these first, you will only injure yourself, there’s nothing wrong with squats, it’s you that needs to be more flexible.
So here’s a roundup of both types of squat:
- Won’t allow you to cheat
- Not able to load as much weight as the back squat
- Core fatigues quickly
- Highlights flexibility issues
- Easy to cheat
- Can load up a lot of weight (but probably not as much as you think you can squat)
- Problems with the back squat are caused by people not doing them right
- There’s nothing wrong with back squats – it’s your body that needs fixing
So I guess the back squat is the king of all exercises, IF you do them correctly and I’ll put myself out there and say you’re probably not. If you find yourself cheating then give front squats a try to teach you the true movement of a squat. I’d also recommend getting an awesome coach or an honest friend who will tell you straight when you’re cheating on back squats. We have a very good ability to lie to ourselves.
So what’s my answer!
If you can back squat correctly without cheating then do it, if you can’t then front squat, if you can’t front squat then get more flexible. Then when you can perform front squats, try back squats again, but don’t leave out front squats they’re still awesome.