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Exploring the Front Squat

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Abstract

THIS ARTICLE EXPLORES THE “FRONT SQUAT” (FSQ) AND ITS VARIATIONS AS PART OF THE “BIG THREE” (DEADLIFT, POWER CLEAN, AND SQUAT) EXERCISES PRESCRIBED BY STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING COACHES TO DEVELOP TOTAL BODY STRENGTH, TARGETING THE HIP EXTENSORS (GLUTEUS MAXIMUS), KNEE EXTENSORS (QUADRICEPS), KNEE FLEXORS (HAMSTRINGS), AND CORE MUSCULATURE (ERECTOR SPINAE, QUADRATUS LUMBORUM, OBLIQUES, RECTUS, AND TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS). MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO INTRODUCE STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING COACHES TO THE FSq TEACHING PROGRESSION, WITH SPECIFIC EMPHASIS ON DEVELOPING THE CORRECT BODY POSITIONING REQUIRED FOR EXECUTION OF THE FSQ.
Exploring the Front Squat
Stephen P. Bird, PhD, CSCS
1
and Sean Casey, BSKin, BSNutr, CSCS
2
1
Exercise and Sports Science Laboratories, School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst,
New South Wales, Australia; and
2
CasePerformance, Green Bay, Wisconsin
SUMMARY
THIS ARTICLE EXPLORES THE
‘‘FRONT SQUAT’’ (FSQ) AND ITS
VARIATIONS AS PART OF THE
‘‘BIG THREE’’ (DEADLIFT, POWER
CLEAN, AND SQUAT) EXERCISES
PRESCRIBED BY STRENGTH AND
CONDITIONING COACHES TO
DEVELOP TOTAL BODY
STRENGTH, TARGETING THE HIP
EXTENSORS (GLUTEUS MAXIMUS),
KNEE EXTENSORS (QUADRICEPS),
KNEE FLEXORS (HAMSTRINGS),
AND CORE MUSCULATURE
(ERECTOR SPINAE, QUADRATUS
LUMBORUM, OBLIQUES, RECTUS,
AND TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS).
MORE SPECIFICALLY, THE PUR-
POSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO
INTRODUCE STRENGTH AND
CONDITIONING COACHES TO
THE FSQTEACHING PROGRES-
SION, WITH SPECIFIC EMPHASIS
ON DEVELOPING THE CORRECT
BODY POSITIONING REQUIRED
FOR EXECUTION OF THE FSQ.
SQUAT TERMINOLOGY
When most individuals hear
the word squat, they often
think of the back squat
(BSq). However, the term squat is an
umbrella term that refers to a large
collection of exercises, with similar
movement patterns, extensively used
by strength and conditioning coaches
to enhance total body strength and
subsequently athletic performance
(Table 1). These include the BSq
(20,34), jump squat (24,29), over-
head/snatch squat (1), Bulgarian/split
squat, and single-leg squat (13).
Another variation, which will be the
focus of this article, is the front squat
(FSq) (27,41).
RESEARCH OVERVIEW OF THE
FRONT SQUAT
To date, research examining muscle
activation patterns and movement
mechanics of the squat exercise has
focused mostly on individuals com-
pleting the BSq (4,16,42). However,
a few studies (2,10,22,37) have com-
pared the kinematics and muscle
activations patterns of the BSq versus
FSq. Recently, Gullett et al. (22)
examined the potential differences of
BSq versus FSq on the muscle acti-
vation and loading patterns of the
knee joint in 15 individuals (9 men,
6 women) with squatting experience.
In this study, participants completed
2 trials that consisted of 3 repetitions
(reps) for each squat variation; the
same relative load, 70% one repetition
maximum (1RM), was used for each
lift. Interestingly, despite lifting ;19 kg
more during the BSq, no significant
differences in muscle activation of the
quadriceps, hamstrings, or erector spi-
nae were noted between exercises.
However, unfortunately, activation of
the gluteal muscles, specifically the
gluteus maximus, was not examined.
This is of particular interest because it
is the authors’ experience that many
athletes BSq with a wider stance than
when performing the FSq. A wider
stance is associated with increased
activation of the gluteus maximus
(30). Additionally, although no signif-
icant differences in knee joint shear
stress were reported between FSq and
BSq sessions, compressive forces were
significantly higher while performing
the BSq (11.0 62.3 Nkg
21
versus
9.3 61.5 Nkg
21
). The authors suggest
that the extra load lifted during the BSq
is responsible for the increased com-
pressive forces and extensor moments
observed during these lifts (22). Altho-
ugh shear stress is resisted in the knee
joint by the anterior and posterior
cruciate ligaments, compressive force
is opposed within the knee by the
meniscus and hyaline cartilage (32).
Therefore, in athletes with pre-existing
knee injuries, when performed cor-
rectly, the FSq may present a safer and
potentially more beneficial option than
the BSq in terms of maximizing overall
muscle recruitment while minimizing
compressive forces in the patellofe-
moral joint. That is to say that a similar
training stimulus can be achieved with
the FSq while placing less compressive
forces on the knee. The same may also
hold true for athletes presenting with
osteoarthritic concerns. However, cau-
tion is warranted in novice lifters
because the FSq may cause more knee
stress than the BSq with anecdotal
reports, suggesting more direct force
over the knee joint.
Examining the effects of various exer-
cises on erector spinae and rectus
abdominis activity, Comfort et al. (10)
had 10 recreational trained men per-
form a military press, BSq, and FSq at
a submaximal load (40 kg). Muscle
activity during these dynamic exercises
were then compared with that obtained
while doing 30-second isometric holds
while in the ‘‘prone bridge’’ and ‘‘super-
man’’ positions. Upon completion of the
study, it was found that at this sub-
maximum load, the FSq resulted in
significantly greater erector spinae mus-
cle activity versus the BSq, military
press, and prone bridge. No difference
was found between the superman and
FSq exercises. With respect to the
rectus abdominus, muscle activity was
significantly higher after the prone
bridge versus all other exercises. The
KEY WORDS:
front squat; strength training; technique
Copyright ÓNational Strength and Conditioning Association Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-lift.org 27
Table 1
Overview of squat variations and sport-specific applications
Squat variation Primary muscles used Comments Sport-specific applications
Back squat Quadriceps, gluteus maximus,
spinal erectors, abdominals
Total body exercise Football, powerlifting, basketball
Front squat Quadriceps, gluteus maximus,
spinal erectors, abdominals,
deltoids
Essential learning movement for Olympic-style lifts
and variants. Decreased compressive stress on
knee.
Weightlifting, wrestling, volleyball
Goblet squat (KB/DB options) Quadriceps, gluteus maximus,
spinal erectors, abdominals,
deltoids
Essential learning movement for squat pattern Weightlifting
Bulgarian split squat Quadriceps, gluteus maximus,
hip adductors/abductors
Increased activation of hip stabilizers and
lumbopelvic musculature. Allows for heavy loads
to be used while developing single leg strength.
Soccer, track events (sprints),
baseball, football
Single Leg squat Hip adductors/abductors,
spinal erectors, abdominals
High degree of difficulty. Focus is on maintaining
balance while keeping the spine and knee joint in
proper alignment during ascent and descent.
Gymnastics, figure skating
Sissy squats Quadriceps Heavy loads used for increased strength Bodybuilding
Snatch/Overhead squat (BB/DB options) Shoulder musculature, upper
back, quadriceps
Essential for mastering power snatch. High level of
shoulder mobility required for proper execution.
Weightlifting, basketball
Jump squats Quadriceps, gluteus maximus,
hamstrings, spinal erectors
Enhances explosive power Basketball, gymnastics, diving, field
events (high jump, long jump)
Stability Ball Wall squats Quadriceps Beneficial for athletes while rehabilitating from injury
or novice squatters learning movement
Postinjury rehabilitation
Hack squats Quadriceps Reduced load placed on lower back Football, rugby, bodybuilding
Isometric squat Gluteus, quadriceps Can be used to increase strength at the weakest
point in ones squat movement
Wrestling, powerlifting, rugby
Lateral squat Hip adductors, quadriceps,
gluteus maximus
Increases hip mobility and strength in frontal plane Hockey, speed skating
Drop squat Quadriceps, gluteus maximus,
hamstrings
Used to teach athletes proper landing position
while jumping
Basketball, volleyball, football
BB = barbell; DB = dumbbell; KB = kettle bell.
VOLUME 34 | NUMBER 2 | APRIL 201 2
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Exploring the Front Squat
BSq, FSq, and military press elicited
similar levels of rectus abdominus
activity. It must be noted that all
dynamic exercises were performed at
a constant absolute load (40 kg). This
may limit the application of the results
because a thletes usually train at a rela tive
load for each particular lift (i.e., 40, 60,
80% 1RM). This is a major consider-
ation before freely applying such
a protocol to athletic populations.
Russell and Phillips (37) examined the
effects of the BSq versus FSq on both
low back injury risk and knee extensor
moments. Results indicated that trunk
inclination, rather than type of squat,
influenced the risk for low back injury.
Interestingly, the demands placed on
the knee extensors did not differ
between either squat variation. How-
ever, the study by Russell and Phillips
has been criticized for design flaws
(19); most notably that participants
used the same absolute load, 75% of
FSq 1RM, for both lifts. Additionally,
the authors did not actually collect
electromyographic data and document
muscle activity. Rather, data analysis
was based on breaking the human body
down into a 5-link model that allowed
investigators to estimate maximum
knee and trunk extensor moments as
well as vertebral stresses.
Finally, it is also suggested that FSq may
also be a better option than BSq inthose
individuals who present with anterior
shoulder instability issues (17). When
performing a BSq, the shoulder is placed
in an abducted and externally rotated
position to hold the bar. This position is
commonly referred to as an ‘‘at risk’
position for those with glenohumeral
ligament laxity (21). In contrast, while
completing the FSq, the shoulders
remain relatively neutral in the frontal
plane and external rotation is kept at
a minimum (approximately 15°)(17).
THE FRONT SQUAT AND ITS ROLE
IN ATHLETIC DEVELOPMENT
From an acute athletic perspective,
there is interest in increasing muscular
performance after a resistance exercise,
which may be attributed to a postacti-
vation potentiation (PAP) effect (11).
Thus, researchers have examined if one
can improve sprint performance, via the
PAP effect, after various squat variations.
This question was examined by Yetter
and Moir (40), who on 3 separate
occasions had 10 physically active
men complete 40-meter sprint trials
preceded by a control condition (4-
minute walk), BSq, or FSq protocols
that consisted of 5 reps at 30% 1RM, 4
reps at 50% 1RM, and 3 reps at 70%
1RM. In comparison with the control
condition, results indicated that the BSq
led to faster speeds during both the 10-
to 20-meter and the 30- to 40-meter
intervals. Improved sprint performance
was not observed after the FSq condi-
tion. However, the inability of the FSq
to elicit a PAP may be load dependent.
Determination of FSq 1-RM (113.8 6
25.7 kg) was a calculated load equiva-
lent to 80% of the directly measured
BSq 1-RM (142.2 632.1 kg), and this
provided lower loads used during the
FSq (30%: 34.1 67.7; 50%: 56.9 612.9;
and 70%: 79.6 618.0 kg, respectively)
compared with the BSq (30%: 42.7 6
9.6; 50%: 71.1 616.1; and 70%: 99.5 6
22.5 kg, respectively).
The authors concluded that the lower
loads used during the FSq may have
limited the activation levels of the hip
extensors and therefore the possible
PAP effect (40). Thus, more research
must be completed in this area to draw
firmer conclusions on the PAP effect of
the FSq on various performance meas-
urements (38), with loading calculated
directly from FSq 1-RM.
Looking at the long-term application of
the FSq to an athletic preparation
program, Hedrick and Wada (23)
highlight that for many athletes, en-
hanced speed strength capabilities (i.e.,
power development) is the primary
physiological characteristic determining
successful athletic performance. Re-
search has indicated that 1RM totals
in the weightlifting movements posi-
tively correlate with various speed
strength skills, such as sprinting (25)
and vertical jump power (3). Addition-
ally, hang power clean performance
positively correlates (r= 0.39; p,0.05)
with FSq 1RM (25). This makes sense
because the mastery of the FSq assists in
the development of the necessary
strength and body positioning required
for receiving the bar at the shoulders in
the power clean and for the vertical
acceleration that occurs when complet-
ing the Olympic-style lifts and related
movements (39). Collectively, this in-
dicates that the FSq plays a vital role in
the development of speed strength,
which is an essential characteristic re-
quired for athletic performance. It has
been suggested that the FSq is of equal
effectiveness as the BSq in developing
speed strength skills. Peeni (35) divided
18 Division I collegiate volleyball players
into 2 comprehensive 8-week lifting pro-
grams that differed only in the method of
squatting (FSq versus BSq). Although
both groups demonstrated a significant
increase in counter-movement vertical
jump height (FSq: 6.1 63.9 cm versus
BSq: 4.7 65.6 cm) at the conclusion of
the study, no significant differences were
reported between groups. The authors
concluded that the FSq may be a more
suitable exercise because it results in
similar performance benefits combined
with potential safety benefits (ability of
the lifter to release the bar during missed
lifts) compared with that of the BSq.
The role of the FSq in the enhancement
of athletic performance is further sup-
ported by Hori et al. (25) who examined
the relationship between FSq and
physical performance measurements in
29 Australian Rules football players
who had incorporated the lift as part
of their off-season training program. In
comparison with those with lower 1RM
in the FSq, athletes with higher FSq
1RM had faster times in both sprint and
agility tests, along with higher power
outputs during weighted squat jumps.
Although this is not a cause and effect
relationship, these results suggest that
higher 1RM FSq may be associated
with greater athletic capabilities. The
integral role that the FSq has in
developing the hang power clean and
athletic performance is supported by
additional research (15,26). Optimi-
zing FSq technique and obtaining the
subsequent benefits requires correct
coaching (8,36).
Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-lift.org 29
TEACHING COMPONENTS
The following brief overview provides
explanation for the teaching compo-
nents of the FSq.
1. Setup:Thestanceissimilartothat
of a BSq. With a pronated grip,
grasp the bar at a width equal to or
slightly outside of the shoulders.
The upper arm should be approx-
imately parallel to the floor, and the
barshouldrestaboveandbehind
the anterior deltoids and upper
clavicle region (Figure 1). If the
athlete lacks the wrist or shoulder
flexibility to hold the upper arm
parallel to the floor, stretching
the triceps, posterior deltoids, and
the entire shoulder girdle will improve
range of motion. Until the athlete
develops adequate flexibility in the
shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints,
lifting straps can be used to assist in
emphasizing elbow position. When
using lifting straps, the palms will
stay in a neutral position throughout
the lift (Figure 2). The core should be
braced throughout the entire lift to
maintain the natural s-shaped curve
of the spine (31). Note that during
initial coaching of the FSq in novice
lifters, the athlete may benefit by
performing the lift in front of a mirror,
thereby allowing him/her to receive
instantaneous visual feedback on
squatting mechanics. However, once
mastered, it may be preferable to
have the lifter FSq without the
assistance of a mirror, thus forcing
them to rely solely upon kinaesthetic
awareness similar to how they would
in normal sport competition.
2. Execution: The descent of the FSq
should be initiated by pushing one’s
hips behind them while flexing at
the knees, which is often termed
‘‘sitting back’’ (6). As the hips
descend, the knees should move
anteriorly in the same plane as their
feet. The weight should be distrib-
uted from the balls of the foot back
toward the heel. The entire foot
should stay in contact with the
ground during the lift. To maintain
a neutral spine during the move-
ment, the athlete’s upper arm should
remain parallel to the floor and their
core braced (9). Additionally, the
eyes should be focused straight
ahead (12) to help prevent rounding
of the lower back. Based on the
experience of the authors, an athlete
should not gaze excessively upward
during the movement because this
Figure 2. Front squat performed with lifting straps.
Figure 1. Set position for the front
squat.
Figure 3. Bottom position for the front squat. The elbow remains parallel to the floor.
VOLUME 34 | NUMBER 2 | APRIL 201 2
30
Exploring the Front Squat
may limit maximum squat depth
while lifting heavy loads. The ecc-
entric portion of the lift concludes
when an athlete is unable to sink any
lower without compromising form
(i.e., losing their neutral spine, losing
heel contact with the ground)
(Figure 3). Upon reaching this ‘‘bot-
tom’’ position, the athlete should
consciously accelerate or ‘‘fire out
of the hole’’ as fast as possible while
still maintaining proper form (33).
3. Common mistakes: When first learn-
ing the FSq, a common mistake seen
in athletes is the lifting of their heels
off the ground (8). In doing so, the
load shifts from major muscle
groups of the lower body onto the
ligaments within the knee joint (40).
Also, the inability to keep the knee
in the same plane of motion as the
foot (i.e., allowing the knees to cave
inward) adds increased stress to
the knee joints. The athlete should
resist rising up onto his/her toes upon
finishing the lift because this could
lead to a loss of balance, especially
while lifting a heavy load. Other
common errors include allowing the
elbows to rotate toward the ground
(i.e., not keeping the upper arm
parallel to the floor) and rounding
of the back. These technique flaws
lead to excessive stress placed on the
knee, spine, and wrist joints, increasing
the risk of injury.
4. Teaching progression: Interestingly,
although the squat exercise is ex-
tensively taught by strength and
conditioning coaches, there are
few published teaching progressions
(7,18). Most recently, Chiu and
Burkhardt (7) presented the 4-step
progression model. Because of the
importance of developing correct
body positioning required for the
FSq, we have adapted the 4-step
progression model (Figure 4) to
assist athletes who demonstrate an
inability to maintain correct body
positioning throughout the squat
movement. The inclusion of the
goblet squat and clean deadlift are
considered foundation exercises in
the progression because both move-
ments develop correct body posi-
tioning. Once athletes have
mastered the squat movement pat-
tern of the goblet squat (Figure 5)
and developed the correct body
positioning in the clean deadlift
(Figure 6), they are ready to move
onto the next progression in the
model, that being the plate squat (7).
VARIATIONS
As with all exercises, there are several
variations that can be applied to the
squat. Waller and Townsend (41) pres-
ent 4 variations of the FSq, highlighting
the variability of this exercise. Other
examples of squat variations include:
1. Bar position—snatch overhead squat.In
contrast to the FSq, the snatch squat
is completed with a wide grip and
overhead bar position. Similar to the
relationship between the FSq and
hang power clean, the snatch squat
prepares the lifter for catching the
bar during the power snatch.
2. Equipment—dumbbells/unstable plat-
forms. The use of dumbbells, rather
than a barbell, presents a novel
stimulus to the lifter, forcing the
upper extremities to work indepen-
dently while upholding the weight.
Such application emphasizes acti-
vation of the anterior and pos-
terior oblique slings, which are
active components in the pelvic
stabilization system linking the
hip to the shoulder girdle
Figure 4. Four-step teaching progression for the front squat. The goblet squat and
clean deadlift provide the foundation for successful exercise progression.
Adapted from Chiu and Burkhardt (7).
Figure 5. (a) Goblet squat start. (b) Goblet squat finish. Key point: The trunk position
throughout the goblet squat creates an upright posture during the
downward motion.
Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-lift.org 31
(oblique abdominal/pectorals; glu-
teus maximus/latissmus dorsi) (28).
The setup for a dumbbell FSq is
similar to that of FSq with straps
described earlier. However, rather
than holding onto the straps, one is
holding onto the dumbbell handles.
3. Stance—single-leg emphasis. Various
squats exist with single-leg emphasis
(single-leg squat, Bulgarian squat).
The common theme with each
single leg squat variation is that it
increases activation of the abductor
and adductor muscles that stabilize
the hip joint. This will allow the
strength and conditioning coach to
observe for compensatory move-
ment patterns and/or bilateral
strength deficits, which are often
present due to muscular imbalances
throughout the kinetic chain.
CONCLUSION
Due to its ability to develop total body
strength and potential for enhancing
athletic performance (25), the squat is
a fundamental exercise and part of the
‘‘big three’’ exercises prescribed by
strength and conditioning coaches.
The FSq variations discussed represent
advanced functional application that
target and engage the posterior chain
segmentofthehips,buttocks,and
hamstrings. Athletes require significant
core strength, well-developed squat
technique, and sound unilateral balance.
For the athlete wanting to develop speed
strength and increase power output, the
FSq and variations are essential compo-
nents of a training program. Upon
mastering the FSq, an athlete’s ability
to develop the correct body positioning
required for the Olympic-style lifts is
greatly enhanced (14) because this is
often the limiting factor resulting in
failure to obtain the correct catch
position of the hang power clean.
Through mastery of the FSq, the
athletes maximize their athletic perfor-
mance potential (5), transferring their
athletic abilities from the training floor
to the field.
Stephen P.
Bird is a senior
lecturer in the
School of Human
Movement Studies,
Charles Sturt Uni-
versity and Coor-
dinator of the
Western Region
Academy of Sport Strength and Condi-
tioning Internship Program.
Sean Casey is
the president of
CasePerformance.
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Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-lift.org 33
... During the traditional back squat, both shoulders are maintained in position of abduction combined with external rotation to support the bar on the upper trapezius with the hands (2,11,14). This position maximally stresses the anterior capsule of the glenohumeral joint (15,26), potentially leading to anterior glenohumeral hyperlaxity and, over time, instability (i.e., excessive movement of the humeral head anteriorly on the glenoid fossa) (5). ...
... Although the maximal amount of weight an individual can lift with this variation is typically less (;60-80%) than for the back squat (14,16), comparison of the back and front squat using an inverse dynamics approach has reported no differences in shear forces at the knee or in the degree of muscle activation, though compressive forces and knee extensor moments were larger in the back squat (16). Although this suggests that at equivalent relative loads, the front squat elicits a similar biomechanical stimulus to the back squat, it should be noted that novice lifters might lack the required flexibility in the wrist and shoulder to maintain correct hand and arm positioning during the front squat (2). Furthermore, special populations (i.e., individuals with amputation) may be unable to support the bar with the hands across the anterior deltoids and clavicles when performing the front squat. ...
... Intersession reliability of 1RM testing with the HBS exercise is expressed with 95% CI. Change in the mean between HBS 1 and HBS 2 Figure 4). ...
Article
While the back squat exercise is commonly prescribed to both athletic and clinical populations, individuals with restricted glenohumeral mobility may be unable to safely support the bar on the upper trapezius using their hands. The aims of this study were to investigate the validity and reliability of a back squat variation using a rigid supportive harness that does not require unrestricted glenohumeral mobility for quantifying 1-repetition maximum (1RM). Thirteen young men (age = 25.3 ± 4.5 yr, height = 179.2 ± 6.9 cm, body mass = 86.6 ± 12.0 kg) with at least two years resistance training experience volunteered to participate in the study. Subjects reported to the lab on three occasions, each separated by one week. During testing sessions, subjects were assessed for 1RM using the traditional back squat (session 1) and harness back squat (HBS; sessions 2 and 3) exercises. Mean 1RM for the traditional back squat, and two testing sessions of the HBS (HBS1 and HBS2) were 148.4 ± 25.0 kg, 152.5 ± 25.7 kg and 150.4 ± 22.6 kg, respectively. Back squat and mean HBS 1RM scores were very strongly correlated (r = 0.96; p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in 1RM scores between the three trials. The test-retest 1RM scores with the HBS demonstrated high reliability, with an intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.98 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.93-0.99), and a coefficient of variation of 2.6% (95% CI = 1.9-4.3). Taken together, these data suggest that the HBS exercise is a valid and reliable method for assessing 1RM in young men with previous resistance training experience, and may be useful for individuals with restricted glenohumeral mobility.
... The authors outlined an initial 6-step teaching progression model, however this may be reduced to a 4-step teaching model when progressing from the hang power clean to the power clean [12]. Two exercises considered essential in the execution of the hang power clean are the Romanian deadlift (RDL) and the front squat (FSq) [3,4]. Specifically, the postural positioning and flexibility required for successful execution of the RDL and FSq greatly influences an athlete's technical proficiency in the hang power clean. ...
... For athletes targeting speed strength qualities (i.e., increase power develop), the hang power clean and power clean are an essential component of the training program. Upon mastering the deadlift [3] and front squat [4], an athlete's ability to develop the correct body positioning required in the 4-step teaching progression for the power clean [12] is greatly enhanced. This is often the limiting factor resulting in failure in obtaining the correct catch position of the power clean. ...
... It is essential that strength and conditioning coaches prescribing the hang clean, and power clean variations allow time for the athlete to gain technical lifting competence. Through mastery of both the deadlift [3] and front squat [4], the athlete maximizes their potential to gain technical proficiency in the hang power clean and power clean, thereby transferring their athletic abilities from the training floor to the sporting domain. ...
Article
Full-text available
The power clean and its variations are prescribed by strength and conditioning coaches as part of the ‘big three’ to develop “total body strength”. This article explores the application of the power clean and its variations to athletic performance and introduces strength and conditioning coaches to teaching progressions, with specific emphasis on developing the correct body positioning required for the power clean. Teaching components are addressed with special reference to taller athletes. It is recommended that strength and conditioning coaches teach the hang clean follow a progression model to decrease movement complexity when advancing athletes to the power clean.
... In the front squat, the bar sits on the front of the deltoids with flexed shoulders and elbows. Both squats mainly target back, hip, knee, and ankle extensors (Bird & Caswy, 2012), but the different load placements in the anterior-posterior direction have attracted interests from researchers. However, previous studies have observed inconsistent findings in joint moments and muscle activities between the two squats (Braidot et al., 2007;Comfort et al., 2011;Gullett et al., 2009;Korak et al., 2018;Russell & Phillips, 1989;Yavuz et al., 2015). ...
Article
The purpose was to quantify trunk and lower extremity biomechanics among back and front squats with a straight bar and four squats with different anterior-posterior load placements imposed by a transformer bar. Ten males and eight females performed six squat conditions: back and front squats with a straight bar, back and front squats with a transformer bar, and squats with more posteriorly or anteriorly placed loads with a transformer bar. A constant load of 70% of the participant’s one-repetition maximum in the straight-bar front squat was used. Kinematic and kinetic data were collected to quantify joint biomechanics at an estimated parallel squat position in the descending and ascending phases. Squats with more anteriorly placed load significantly decreased trunk flexion and pelvis anterior tilt angles with large effect sizes but increased low-back extension moments with medium to large effect sizes. Hip, knee, and ankle extension moments were generally similar among most conditions. Participants adjusted their trunk and pelvis to mediate the effects of load placements on low-back and lower extremity moments. While lower extremity loading was similar among different squats, the different trunk and pelvis angles and low-back moments should be taken into consideration for people with low-back impairment. KEYWORDS: Low back, hip, knee, squatting, load placement
... Knee forces during squats include tibiofemoral shear force, tibiofemoral compressive force, and patellofemoral compressive force [7]. Tibiofemoral shear force places stress on the cruciate ligaments and poses a risk of ligament rupture, while tibiofemoral and patellofemoral compressive forces stress the articular cartilage and meniscus [7][8][9], which is of concern for patients following a knee injury or surgery. Sahli et al. [10] found that peak compressive and shear force components increased significantly as the external load increased during squats. ...
Article
BACKGROUND: Comparison of knee loads on a Smith machine, which utilised in for maintenance of health and rehabilitation, has not been attempted. OBJECTIVE: This study compared lower limb muscle and knee joint forces during front and back squats performed on a Smith Machine. METHODS: Eleven participants performed front and back squats with loads at 40%, 60% and 80% of their back squat 1-RMs. Ground reaction forces and three-dimensional full body motion were collected and used for modelling lower limb muscle and knee joint forces. RESULTS: Larger loads increased tibiofemoral compressive force during back squat at 80% compared to 40% (p< 0.01; d= 1.58) and to 60% (p< 0.01; d= 1.37). Patellofemoral compressive (p= 0.96) and tibiofemoral shear forces (p= 0.55) were not influenced by external load or type of squat. Gluteus medius and minimus produced more force at 80% compared to 60% (p= 0.01; d= 1.10) and to 40% (p< 0.01; d= 1.87) without differences for other muscles (p= 0.09–0.91). CONCLUSIONS: Greater external load was associated with increase in gluteus medius and minimus force and with increased tibiofemoral compressive force without effects on tibiofemoral shear force, patellofemoral compressive force or other lower limb muscle forces.
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Collins, KS, Klawitter, LA, Waldera, RW, Mahoney, SJ, and Christensen, BK. Differences in muscle activity and kinetics between the goblet squat and landmine squat in men and women. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000-000, 2021-Squat exercise variations are widely used and extensively researched. However, little information exists on the goblet squat (GBS) and landmine squat (LMS) and differences between men and women. This study investigated the differences in muscle activity and kinetics between the GBS and the LMS in 16 men and 16 women. Five repetitions of each squat type were performed loaded at 30% of their body mass. Vertical and anteroposterior ground reaction forces for the eccentric and concentric phases and peak vertical force were recorded with a force plate. Electromyographic (EMG) signals were recorded for the vastus medialis (VM), vastus lateralis (VL), semitendinosus (ST), and biceps femoris (BF). Normalized mean EMG values and ground reaction forces were analyzed with repeated measures analysis of variance (p < 0.05). Significant main effects for squat condition and sex were found. The LMS reduced activity in the quadriceps (VM and VL) muscles and vertical forces, while increasing posterior horizontal forces. In the LMS, men showed decreased ST activity, whereas women had decreased BF activity. Women exhibited greater quadriceps activity in both the GBS and LMS and greater ST in the LMS. Women also produced greater eccentric vertical force in both the GBS and LMS and less posterior horizontal forces in the LMS. The LMS may be useful to balance hamstring to quadriceps activity, increase horizontal loading, and reduce vertical loading. Conversely, the GBS can better target quadriceps activity and increase vertical loading. Sex differences should be considered for training programs that include the GBS and LMS.
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Weightlifting exercises can be effective for enhancing athletic performance. This article provides a biomechanical and physiological discussion as to why weightlifting exercises are useful to improve athletic performance and how they may be integrated into a training program.
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Improving stability during performance of daily activities is the final goal of rehabilitation. Manual therapy and non-weight-bearing exercises are frequently catalysts in this process. However, functional training does not necessarily need to follow these other approaches. As the saying goes 'begin with the end in mind'. Functional whole body movements coupled with progressive balance challenges trains the deep 'core' muscles.