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Differences Between Front Squat vs Back Squat?

I know there are differences, but can anyone help identify what specific differences exist between these two lifts? What main muscle’s does each lift focus on? What do most people prefer?

Some info to check out;

front squats = better isolation of the quadriceps
back squats = mainly quads, however hams and glutes do come in to play, esp. below parallel

As far as ‘main muscles’, they’re obviously pretty similar. You will engage the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, abs, and quads in both lifts. The degree to which these are engaged varies some, but it’s not such an enormous difference for a beginner lifter. Both lifts can be effective staples in your training, and either one will give you stronger legs.

depends on what they’re good at. For someone who has good wrist/shoulder flexibility and core strength, they may find the front squat to be very comfortable and prefer it. I have poor mobility, so I favor the back squat over the front squat. But that being said, I prefer the safety squat bar over both of these options. The safety squat bar mimics the movement pattern of the front squat moreso than the back squat, engages the body similarly to the front squat, but does not require the same upper body mobility.

I imagine the real purpose of this post is to figure out which one YOU should focus on most. To figure that out, I’d recommend switching between them each time you have a squat session. So like, this week only do back squats, next week only front squats, and go back and forth for a solid 8 weeks. You could do this longer, and probably have incredible results, but 8 weeks is a good minimum. That will be enough time to really learn the movements well and get a feel for which one you think should be more of a staple in your lifting program.

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Back when I started Stronglifts, I alternated both Back and Front Squats, and when I did 5/3/1 I tried doing BBB sets of Front Squats (I went way light so prolly didnt benefit much). Give a try and see how you like it.

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If/when I run BBB I’d do it like this. Glad I’m not the only heretic

Haha right, it’s lifitng and not bureaucracy. To me these are all strong suggestions

My first post here was doing 5/3/1 with 8x8 work after

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everyone should try different things in the gym, there’s absolutely no reason to be locked into a very narrow set of lifts for specified sets and reps. There’s a lot of shit we can do to make us stronger, and variety does matter. My transition from powerlifting to strongman taught me that. I thought I was strong when I was benching 390ish, squatting 550ish and deadlifting 600ish, while under 200 lbs bodyweight. That’s supposed to be strong, right? It wasn’t because that’s ALL I could fucking do. Back then, there was no way I would have subbed in front squats for back squats. And I’m less of a lifter today for that decision.


This is so counter to a lot of what you read in the sort of “classic” strength training books, but I gotta say, makes way more sense. Thank you

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2 things

  1. I’m not trying to sell you anything. I don’t benefit directly from giving advice in any meaningful way. I don’t make my money in the fitness industry, so I have no incentive to pretend that there is only one way to do things.

  2. So that being said, there IS merit in learning the basics that are most often taught in strength training books, and for beginners, it absolutely makes sense to have a strict template to follow.

I give you different advice than I’d give a guy who’s just started, because I’m familiar with you, I’ve seen you posting for awhile, and I have a decent idea of what you probably know and what you don’t know, and what might benefit you today.


I guess most of the “stick to the program” sentiment is just to prevent fuck-around-itis, which also makes sense.

Also no stress, I know you’re not trying to sell me on anything, your replies are always helpful and quality

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The reason I hire a coach is to prevent decision fatigue and save myself the time of “uhhh what do I do next”, and more importantly avoid the fuck-around-itis

If there’s something I wanna do, I tell my coach to program it in somewhere.

I have a few reasons. One has been accountability, specifically in the accessory movements, mobility work, all the stuff I tend to neglect. When I see it on a program, I’ll do it.

Also prevents me from maxing every day… lol.

All my training is determined right now by whatever comp I have next. It looks like this year is gonna be a full schedule, which I think will be good for me. I only competed 3 times last year because of my injury. This year it’ll be 6+ times. My coach is very good at programming appropriately for these events.


It’s not even that weird. Wendler says that you can do your BBB sets with any supplemental exercise for your main one. Some writings of his even list leg presses among the lifts you can use for your BBB sets.


True. I think it’s just the BBB Challenge and Krypteia that are a little bit more on the dogmatic (that word’s a bit more harsh than I’d like but couldn’t think of an alternative) side

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From the BBB 3 Month Challenge:


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Honestly though he probably said that so he didn’t get harassed

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Lol good call.

But when people try alternative themselves on their own executive decision, nobody gets harassed :lol:

Ahhh yes, but people want validation of their asinine training programs so that they too, can feel smart and successful.

If Jim did openly invite modification I would totally expect

"Hey Jim so I’m doing the BBB Challenge but I thought that just back squatting wouldn’t give me complete enough development so instead I’m doing:


  • Squat: 531 + AMRAP @ SSL, FSL
  • Front Squat: 10RM
  • Leg Press: 10RM
  • walking lunge: 10RM
  • Good morning: 10RM
  • Zercher Squat: 10RM

It’s still only 5 sets of 10 so this should be okay right?

Oh I’m also running these on two-a-days every day of the week so I’m actually squatting 3-4 times per week because Christian thibaudeau said frequency is king.

That reminds me, Paul Carter said the deadlift is terrible muscle builder so would it be okay if I swap deadlifts for reverse-band deficit RDL’s with chains?

Thank Jim, look forward to hearing back from you. Love your work and I think you’re an amazing coach


Damn bro that hit close to home

Thats exactly why I wanted to replace 5x10 sets with 8x8 work :open_mouth: