'Never Skip Leg Day' is a phrase you will see on most social media channels these days, but are you training them properly and to the best of your ability? Training your leg muscles has to be one of the hardest sessions in your workout week due to the sheer overload and stress it puts on your body. The squats, leg press, lunges, extensions, curls and so on are super taxing on our bodies and no matter how good we think it is at the time, we certainly pay for it days later. In this post I want to discuss the differences between front and back squats, outlining the positives and negatives of them at the same time.
In case you were wondering why you should squat, here are some brief pointers that put this AWESOME exercise into perspective
- Increases leg strength and muscular development
- Aids in digestive function
- Compound exercise which releases human growth hormone for whole body growth
- Increased testosterone
- Improved core muscles
- Increased Lower back stability
- Improved posture
Small, brief reminder on why you should squat but let's take a closer look at the differences between front and back squats.
This type of squat is much harder to perform than a back squat and isn't seen being performed by many people in the gym. Why is this? Well I believe that a front squat has to be performed 90% correctly otherwise you simply won't get it right and this turns people off. You see with this type of exercise you need to make sure you have enough mobility in the lower back, hips and hamstrings to go deep enough into it. There needs to be enough mobility in the upper back to support the load on your shoulders without breaking posture. It is a TOUGH exercise but once mastered it will give you great results as it heavily targets your quadriceps, abs and bum muscles. Secondary muscles are also being worked, for instance your hamstrings and shoulders are too activated to keep you in correct alignment.
The results from performing front squats however are incredible and you will feel it work your body differently to back squats. The load of the bar focuses far more on your quadriceps than any other type of squat and you will feel this the moment you have to drive the bar back to standing from breaking parallel.
I wouldn't advise you performing this exercise if you are new to lifting or have poor flexibility. On the contrary, I would advise this exercise if you have been working with a coach and want to develop the lift over a normal back squat which you might have been performing in your workouts for some time. Let's take a look at the back squat now...
A popular move for many in the gym is the traditional back squat which targets the body effectively. This movement is much easier to teach and to grasp compared to the front squat, which is probably why we see so many people performing it. So the back squat is targeting the lower body yet again with more emphasis on the quadriceps and hamstrings this time round. Similar secondary muscles are being used except there is no need for the shoulders to engage as the weight distribution is on the back and not the front.
The positives of back squats is that you can load up more weight on the bar due to it's more natural movement it has on the body. The back squat is a more steady, stable exercise for you with the weight being transferred into the heels quite nicely. A front squat is mostly supported by your fingertips and shoulders staying strong. The moment you lose the strength here, the bar will fall. However in a back squat you have a really nice, wide platform you can rest the bar on - your back!
Both exercises are fantastic and you should test them out for yourself to see how you find them. I imagine for many of you the back squat will be very frequent in your workouts whereas the front squat might be very new. Equip yourself with a weight belt too which will help keep you stable during both moves. Make sure you exercise caution throughout both lifts and be sure to seek professional advice if you are just starting out. Enjoy!!