Back to Front

Posted on by Connie K

 width=The back squat…the movement that makes champions in strength sports. Who cares how much you bench when you can walk out 500+lbs and squat it butt to floor? It’s the king of all exercises, second to none.  My personal favorite, it was the best of my “big 3” in powerlifting.  The only exercise that can have me almost throwing up 10 minutes into my leg workout.  Doing it for so long, back squatting heavy gave me big legs for a young buck like me, giving me the name “Quadzilla” at the gym at which I train. But I can’t give all the credit to the back squat.  Front squatting heavy is a secret of mine that I integrated when I made the switch over to bodybuilding.  It’s one movement that love to hate or hate to love.  The movement is different from a back squat in that the prime mover is quad-intensive-- but there are similarities:
  1. Still can be used as a “power” movement in your routine, giving you the option to go relatively heavy to tear those quads up.
  2. Working on driving your knees out is essential in both movements! Don’t forget about that abductor machine.
  3. You still have to focus on your core, keeping your lats tight and your chest up and your breathing technique as you would as a back squat. Note that keeping your chest up is crucial because once that chest drops, the weight drops.
  4. The range of motion is the same, or even better than a back squat because one can go lower without as much lower back pressure.
People will argue which grip to use—this is personal preference of course, but most novice lifters will go for the California grip instead of the old school clean grip. Try not to use the California grip, or more commonly recognized as the cross-armed grip if for no other reason than safety reasons—it’s much easier to keep your elbows up with the clean grip; once those elbows drop, problems like rounding your lower back or a fail attempt and dropping the weight will happen.  People fall onto the cross-armed grip because they assume that they can go heavier or say the clean grip “hurts their wrist.” But, recognize that the barbell should be rested on your shoulders and body, not necessarily on your wrists or hands.  And there is a difference between a lack of flexibility and pain—the uncomfortable feeling you get when you first front squatting will become habit and you won’t think a second of it as you progress. Next time your in the gym, change it up!  If you’re not training for a powerlifting competition and the back squat isn’t your main priority, then this is a new exercise you should integrate into your leg day.  I’m not hating on the back squat—that will always be my favorite workout… but I can’t not give credit to the front squat. For those of you who are feeling gutsy, try supersetting front and back squats! Impossible? I think not. A video of me 275x5 back squat supersetted with 225x5 front squat: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DesOUrOtnXY[/youtube]    width=Danny Quach is a senior at the University of Georgia and he’s studying Health Promotion and Behavior.  He’s a powerlifter at heart and has done it for over six years.  He just competed in his first bodybuilding show in Summer of 2011.  For powerlifting, he holds some Georgia records.  In his first bodybuilding competition, he placed 2nd in Novice in INBF Southern States.  On his spare time he’s a part of the University of Georgia’s cheerleading co-ed squads; his favorite past-time? Throwing girls around and catching them.