I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The front squat is a superior exercise to the back squat. I don’t mean that you should never back squat. If you’re one of those individuals who doesn’t feel back pain while doing them, can do them with an erect torso, and doesn’t wimp out by cutting your depth short, then go ahead and back squat ALSO. But, the front squat should be your bread and butter.
Over at EliteFTS they give 5 reasons why you should front squat:
- Front squats are more quad dominant, bodybuilders like this that are paranoid about getting their butts too big.
- Front squats are easier on your back because your torso is more erect and obviously less weight is being handled.
- If you go forward on a front squat you lose the weight, so it’s impossible to lean forward too excessively.
- Front squats are also a good tool to teach someone to back squat with an erect torso.
- Front squats offer great transference to jerks, push presses and Olympic lifts. More core stabilization is required.
The idea that front squats are more quad dominant is slightly misleading. The average Olympic lifter has a bigger butt than the average powerlifter who does tons of the (supposedly more ass-dominant back squat). I’ll tell you why.
When you only go to parallel, the front squat is quad dominant. But when you go to rock-bottom, you have no choice but to use your butt. A deep front squat stretches the glutes massively and while under tension, they then have to work hard in this stretched state to get you back up again. The result: lots of muscle growth.
The second reason is the Oly lifters often bounce out of the bottom position, this type of stretch reflex has been speculated to also result in muscle gain. (Yes, I just said that if you want big muscles DON’T lift slow, lift fast.) Even if you don’t bounce out of the bottom, the work your butt has to do to decelerate the bar will aid you in muscle growth down there in your nether-regions.
Check out this video of (strongman) Travis Ortmayer doing some very heavy back squats (with solid form). Note that even with his very good form, the back squat forces certain anatomical realities. Namely, that your back is your weak-link.
Now in contrast, check out Vencelas Dabaya, from France, doing some front squats. In the bottom position, your glutes become a prime mover.
Of course, in theory you could back squat exactly the same as you front squat with only a slight forward lean to make up for the bar being on your back. But, in reality this almost never happens. And as a result, the glutes get taken down a notch as major players.
So if you front squat only to parallel, then you’ll keep your glutes out of the picture. But, if you want a butt to be proud of, keep going down. (Assuming you can do so without rounding your back, of course!)