The squat is a fundamental movement pattern that we perform every day.

Not only is it crucial to master the movement pattern, but it is important to implement the squat as part of your exercise program. Once mastered, adding weight to your squat will assist in improving function, tissue resiliency and reduce the risk of injury.

Which squat is best?

All squats are beneficial, but which squat is best differs from person to person. It will ultimately come down to your program goals, and may differ depending on whether you wish to enhance your sport performance, or assist with your normal activities of daily living.

Is a front or back squat better for me?

There is more to it than just where the bar lays! The bar placement significantly changes the centre of gravity on the body. Here is a break-down of these two types of squats.

back squat diagram
Back Squat Diagram

Back Squat

Involves positioning the barbell across the shoulders on the trapezius muscle, slightly above the level of your deltoids

Allows the hips and knees to slowly flex until the thighs are parallel to the floor.

Allows you to lift greater loads compared to front due to greater emphasis on the posterior chain muscles (gluteals, hamstrings, calves, etc).

Back squats have shown to produce greater compressive forces on the knee due to patella-femoral contact force pressure.

There is more forward lean of the trunk, resulting increased activation of erector spinae muscles (back extensors)

It is advisable to avoid the back squat if you are experiencing back pain or have an upper body deficit.

front squat diagram
Front Squat Diagram

Front Squat

Involves placing the barbell across the front of the deltoid, clavicles and fully flexing the elbows to position the upper arms parallel to the floor.

Due to their more upright position, it is easier to maintain a neutral spine position and better initiate the core stabilising muscles

It has an excellent carry over to Olympic lifts as the bar is held in the front rack position.

Puts a greater demand on the quadriceps as the knees are placed in a more upright, knee dominant squat pattern.

Typically, you should be able to front squat 70-85% of your back squat weight.

In summary, both squats have more similarities than differences, and effectively work the muscles surrounding the hip, knee, ankle and lower back, however muscular involvement does vary.

There are multiple variations of the squat each with their reason and purpose. By varying your type of squat, load, equipment, form, speed and foot placement, there are so many different ways to utilise the squat in your training.

At least one type of squat should be included in every exercise program, whether it be for health, wellbeing, longevity or to enhance sporting performance! Any squat is more functional than sitting down and standing up!