One of the most common questions of gym-goers is what’s the difference between front squats vs back squats. Squatting is one of the primary human movement patterns. Squat as such is a closed chain kinetic chain movement, which has a direct transfer to various sporting movements, as well as movements in our everyday life. Weighted squats are majorly used in strength & conditioning in various sports, gyms, etc. as a basic exercise.
Front squats vs back squats are the two squatting movements being used, apart from various other squatting variations. But, we will limit our discussion to a very common doubt, i.e. “what is the difference between a front squats vs back squats?” The basic difference is that in the front squat, the bar is positioned across the collarbones, in front of the body.
(when we talk about the knee extensor muscles, the one muscle which extends the knee is the quadriceps muscle. The quadriceps femoris muscle group (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medius, and vastus intermedius) crosses the knee via the patella and acts to extend the leg. The hamstring group muscles (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris) flex the knee and extend the hip.)
The knee extensor comparison indicated similar knee extensor demands, so either squat exercise could be used to develop knee extensor strength. The data revealed that with the influence of trunk inclination either exercise had the greatest low back injury risk (i.e., with greater trunk inclination: greater trunk extensor demands and lumbar shear forces).
It was observed in the knee a better development of energy with the front bar, allowing a better muscular exercise with the same load. The mean power absorbed by the hip with the back bar is considerably greater. This basically would be related to the fact that the exercise is done faster due to the greater stability obtained in locating the bar backward.
Significant increases in speed were found during the 10 to 20m interval for the HBS compared with the control treatment. During the 30- to 40m interval, HBS produced significantly greater speeds compared with the HFS treatment and the control treatment.
The difference between two forms of the squats is the front squats vs back squats. Athletes and persons concerned with fitness regularly perform the back squat; the front squat is performed much less often. Although both squats effectively work the lower back, hip, and leg muscles, there are slight variations in technique and muscular involvement. In addition, the maximum amount of weight an individual can lift varies between the two techniques, with increased capacity possible for the back squat.
Researchers compared the front squats vs back squats biomechanics in fifteen healthy trained individuals. More specifically, each participant met our stringent requirement of at least 1 year of experience in both lifts used a minimum of one time per week each in their regular weight training programs.
They saw that the back squat resulted in significantly higher compressive forces and knee extensor moments than the front squat. Although the bar position did not influence muscle activity, muscle activation during the ascending phase was significantly greater than during the descending phase. In comparison between front squats vs back squats, the front squats were as effective as the back squats in terms of overall muscle recruitment, with significantly less compressive forces and extensor moments. The results suggest that front squats may be advantageous compared with back squats for individuals with knee problems such as meniscus tears, and for long-term joint health.
For the study, 12 participants, completed three repetitions of both front squats vs back squats exercises at 50 % of their back squat one repetitions maximum. Results showed that the back squat exhibited a significantly greater trunk lean than the front squat throughout with no differences occurring in knee joint kinematics.
The results of this study in conjunction with the 1989 study by Russell & Philips, suggested that the back squat gives rise to an increased risk of a lower back injury.
The results of the study showed that the back squat has a significantly greater posterior trunk inclination angle, less knee flexion and higher lumbar spine angular velocity in comparison with the front squat. Since the participants were experienced weight lifters, they were not in a risk of injury in performing back squat up to 85% of 1RM even with greater trunk inclination angle because their lumbar spine angle did not change significantly, which showed that their lifting technique was not compromised.
This, however, does not mean, the back squat is to be avoided due to the risk of Achilles tendon injuries. This simply means that those at the risk of developing injuries related to the Achilles tendon may reduce this risk through more frequent utilization of the front squat in their training.
Results showed that the EMG activity of vastus medialis was found to be greater in the front squat compared to the back squat during the ascending phase and the whole maneuver, while semitendinosus EMG activity was greater in the back squat during the ascending phase. Compared to the front squat version, back squat exhibited significantly greater trunk lean, with no differences occurring in the knee joint kinematics throughout the movement. Results suggested that the front squat may be preferred to the back squat for knee extensor development and for preventing possible lumbar injuries during maximum loading.
The researchers found no significant differences between full, front and parallel squats in any of the tested muscles. It is recommended that individuals utilize a full range of motion when squatting, assuming full range can be safely achieved, in order to promote more favourable training adaptations. Furthermore, despite requiring lower loads, the front squat may provide a similar training stimulus to the back squat. Therefore, the front squat is a viable alternative to the back squat since muscle activation is similar between the two variations.
The kinematic analysis showed that the back squat was associated with significantly greater flexion of the trunk. Examination of muscle forces indicated that erector spinae forces were also significantly larger in the back squat. No significant differences were identified for skeletal muscle forces elsewhere.
The results indicate that neither the front nor back squat provides any marked difference in muscle force production, aside from that isolated to the lower back. These findings lead the conclusion that neither the front nor back squat conditions confer any additional benefits over the other in terms of the skeletal muscle force output.
Researchers compared that both the front squats vs back squats significantly improved 1-RM squat, vertical jump and sprint time. Thus, both front squats and back squats resistance training programs improved lower body muscular strength, sprint speed, and power output.
THE FINAL CONCLUSION
When it comes to front squats vs back squats, no one is superior to another. It depends on certain factors. Both squats make your muscles equally stronger for the same load. It will depend on your goal. For e.g. an Olympic weightlifter will need to practice a lot of front squats due to his sporting requirements, as the front squat component is used in clean & jerk, and snatch movements; and a powerlifter will be focussing more on the back squat.
Here are summary points from all the above studies:
There are other common differences observed in front squats vs back squats:
Akshay Chopra is a renowned fitness professional, a speaker , a writer and the owner of Indias research based platform, Werstupid. He has been transforming lives, and has addressed many a people with motivational words. Known as the Encyclopaedia of Fitness Industry, his knowledge is unparalleled.
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