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Squats at Beginning or End of Session?


I've been noticing that my "work capacity" to squat has decreased since I took olympic weightlifting and moved the squatting to the end of the training sessions(after the snatch and c&j practice), compared to when I did Starting Strength back then.

Any reason to move it to the beginning of a training session?


I'd do them on a day I don't oly lift or just keep them at the end of my workout. I usually squat wednesdays, olylift friday.


If your goal is to be better at Oly lifts, do it at the end. While in the short term, your work capacity will be diminished, it will increase over time and your squat will go up.

In addition, as long as you are getting stronger, you don't really need to care how much you squat. However, you do need to care how much you Oly lift. Starting strength really emphasizes squat gains, so squatting first. Olympic lifting, by nature, emphasizes gains in the snatch and clean and jerk, so do those first.

Lastly, they are technical lifts that rely on a lot of speed, something will diminish over a workout, where a maximum effort squat if a comparatively slow lift that relies on strength, something that will diminish less over a workout.


I do squats after my olympic lifts. i want my legs and hips to be fresh for snatch or clean so that i can produce maxium force and speed on the bar.

If i do squats first i will be compensating on my olympic lifts.

It also depends what is your priority.



Your work capacity will increase when you get use to it. Your legs aren't use to the volume of work out yet.



I've coached weightlifters for over 40 years. For the past 20 years or so I have them squat before doing the snatch and clean & jerk, in order to pre-fatigue the legs so that different motors units will be stimulated. This is during the preparation period. During the competition period, the squats go to the end of the workout where the speed gradient is lowest. To make optimal progress you should back squat 5 days/week and front squat 1 during the prep cycle and do snatches and cleans and jerks four days a week. During much of the competition period Front Squat 2 days per week and Back Squat 1 day, while snatching and clean & jerking three days per week.


I'm curious about the reason why you recommend back squatting as opposed to front squatting (5:1) during the prep period?

Does back squatting transfer well to front squatting?


I wouldn't recommend doing so much back squating over front squating. But then it's the winter prep phase much like a sprinters where they do more circuits, a bit longer distances etc for out of season training. It really depends on the person as to if it will cross over well or not. Some guys it doesn't but I suspect these are the guys with less then perfect front squats and they don't go to rock bottom, lean over forwards a bit too much. This will not translate to the increase to a front squat. The front squat is MUCH MUCH more demanding on your trunk strength, if your abs/ back is weak the front squat WILL ABUSE you on this front.

If you want a big front squat FRONT SQUAT. See for yourself a few times if hammering back squats will help your front squats. For me I went from 187 > 201 on the back squat and 160 > 170 on the front squat. Some guys get no gains for a while on their front squat.



Yeah. I've been trying to figure out whether I should introduce back squats (thus cutting down on front squats) or just stick to my front squats (deadlifting already for posterior chain). I haven't read anything yet to convince me that my oly lifting would improve if I introduced back squatting.

But I'm still open to being persuaded (especially if people have experimented with the above variable)

I used to squat after pulls because they were more technical. Now that I can pull more than I can squat (the horror!!!) I'm going to start doing squats first.



I have coached olympic lifting for about thirty years and use the back squat should much more than the front squat with my athletes. I find it much more important to the total development as an olympic lifter. And, if you are pulling more than you can squat, that is a major sign that something is wrong. For me, back squatting is the keystone strength exercise for lifters.

I generally have lifters, even in the prep phase, do squatting after the olympic movements but will sometimes do them before for the reason spoken about in a post above. Most weeks I suggest athletes squat 3 (rarely 4 unless almost total time dedicated to training)times and keep about a 4:1 ratio between back and front squatting sessions.



I know the Bulgarian's back squatted too... What I don't quite get is why (trying to figure if there is a reason I don't get, or if it is more about tradition).

Have you tried replacing back squats with front squats? Was development slower with that than with back squatting? I wonder if anyone has experimented with that variable while holding others constant...

I've heard 'back squats are better for strength development' but the only strength development I care about is cleaning and jerking and snatching more. I'm sure back squatting gets you better at back squatting, but I'm not so sure about the carry over. I've heard back squats are important for posterior chain development, but I'm not sure what they get you that you can't get from deadlifts.

I guess that I stopped back squatting because I read somewhere (Ripptoe, maybe) that it was best to pick just one kind of squat and learn it properly rather than trying to learn a few different kinds at once and having motor skill interference. I still think I'm learning the front squat, really. Still needing to work on keeping the tension and not collapsing in the hole, still needing to work on getting the hamstring tension stretch reflex at the bottom.

I have problems with poor ankle dorsiflexion (structural limitation due to joint fusion). I'm also genetically unsuitable for this in that I have long levers. The women who are built like me seem to maintain their balance in the front squat by bringing their knees well in front of their feet but my ankle dorsiflexion prohibits this. My fix is to have a greater heel raise than oly shoes provide and also to adopt a slightly wider than optimal stance. It has taken me a significant amount of time to learn the front squat - and I do realize that it is a significant problem that I can pull (and bloody well jerk) more than I can front squat.

I have been tossing up introducing back squatting to help build up my leg strength. My main concern is that back squatting will interfere with my front squatting since my form isn't perfect, yet.

I'm not trying to be annoying... I probably think too much... Guess the only way for me to find out is to try it...


I heard that back squat has better transfer to snatch, where as front squat better transfer to clean and jerk.
the second is obvious but not so sure about the BS -> snatch transfer???


I wondered about that... Figured that overhead squatting for snatch would be like front squatting for clean. Overhead squatting does (to me) feel a bit more like back squatting in the sense that you are able to sit your butt back more with a balanced bar (if your shoulder flexibility is good). Someone suggested that the squat component of the snatch wasn't typically the limiting factor, though (but its possible I'm misrepresenting that).


I find that the limiting factor in snatch is the catch phase, not getting up from the hole.


So then why overhead / back squat?



For several reasons, including that you will handle much greater load with the back squat than the front, it is vital to do much more back squatting for olympic lifters. Back squats do have a greater affect on the posterior chain and help you learn proper low squatting position (whether for squatting or cleaning). Front squats will invariably force lifters to be towards the front of the feet at the bottom of the squat while back squats allow you to be back into the feet more. Back squats will teach lifters to squeeze with the glutes to start up and that is key to getting out of good squat cleans. Front squats often teach lifters to get up with their quads (often making them shift forward to rise) and not think about their glutes. This will not lead to solid bottom positions or correct recovery from squat cleans with higher percentage weight. Glutes first, quads second is a better way to think of rising.

Also, those who front squat much more than back tend to go to their forefeet earlier when driving the Jerk. (Quads work best when the balance is on the forefeet.) Back squatters will have the musculature in the rear to sit down on the heels during the dip portion of the Jerk and drive up through the rearfeet longer on the drive phase, which is proper.

Compared to deadlifts for posterior chain development, back squats are better because of almost equal 1RM, if you have trained correctly, and the fact that you can work with good percentages of squatting weights many more times per month than you can with deadlifts. Heavy deadlifts, because of bar distance from the average human COM and the fact that it is places at the end of smaller, weaker musculature and cause the back position of the lifter to be more angled than squats, cause much more stress on the body. In my opinion, deads shouldn't be done more than once every two weeks or so and only through part (~1/2 or a bit more) of the training year for olympic lifters. They are, however, critical for full development.

You will hear a thousand different opinions about squatting. Mine is that you back squat much more than front if you are squatting for olympic lifting.

Good questions.



In the place I train, I never saw anyone overhead squatting nor my coach asks the lifters to do it, so I can't really comment about OH squatting. Drop snatches though, we do them.


wow, thanks for your response.

interesting point about glute involvement on the way up - i think that i'm not really doing that, or am only doing it sometimes... i haven't properly learned to jerk, yet, so i don't know about that...

i will introduce back squats just once a week to start with and see how it goes. if it seems to help me (with the stretch reflex at the bottom of the front squat) then i'll definitely be doing more of them.

also good point about deadlifts. i'm still learning form... but am realizing that i need to be careful with them with respect to overtraining. as i get the hang of the form (so can go heavier safely) then i might start replacing deadlifting (currently every second day) with some back squatting so it won't be taking time away from front squats.

where i train nobody seems to do overhead squats (but i have a hankering after dan john's 15 overhead bodyweight squats - though i'm thinking i'll aim for 5x5 because i'm lazy like that). they all back squat, too, but i was shy about pestering them as to why...



I think you are wise to start including overhead squats. I have all my lifters do them through much of the year. Great for other athletes as well. Balance, flexibility and strength all affected. Great core exercise. High reps are good for warm-ups, learning and come into play for things like CrossFit workouts but O. lifters mostly should be ~3-6 rep range, working on heavier weight controlled overhead. Expect your wrists to hurt.

Drops are important, as well, for fast reaction and balance at the catch position.




I've done 5x5 back squats since this discussion. Just the bar because I'm learning the movement and still stretching out my hip flexors and I'm determined to get them smoothly ATG before adding weight.

So far I'm noticing:

  • Feels like a wonderful stretch / strengthening movement for hip flexors (also feels like lumbar spine insertions) in a way that is a bit different from overhead / front squatting
  • Feel more balanced in front / overhead squats because of greater confidence in sitting back without falling over
  • Glutes are starting to fire first to help me get out of the hole
    So overall:
  • I'm getting a tighter and more stable position in the bottom of both overhead and front squats


Pretty darned happy.