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Will Improving Each Squat Variation Improve the Other Variation?


I have found with myself doing a front squat phase doesn’t really transfer to my back squat. In fact if I do a 3 month front squat focus without back squatting my back squatting is down when I return to it. Is this a common occurrence where for some body types the zercher, front, and back dont transfer well to each other?

It doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t transfer, especially if you’re comparing it to your performance on the first session back squatting again. It’ll take a couple sessions to relearn the movement and get your muscles working together like they did before.

If the front squat didn’t strengthen your weak points it also may not transfer.

I believe CT has mentioned before that some people need spinal loading to maintain back squat performance. I know this to be the case for myself if I ever take a break from them. It takes me a few weeks to get used to having weight on my back again.

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There will always be “some transfer” but it might not actually show up as progression or there could even be a decrese in performance.


Some people have poor skill maintenance: if they don’t keep practicing a specific movement, they lose efficiency. And some people (often the same) have smaller transfer from one exercise to the other.

If you have both poor transfer and low skill maintenance and you stop back squatting for a while, even if your front squat does up, your back squat could go down: the gains you made to your back squat from the front squat are lower than those you lost from the lact of practice.

Many factors come into play.

  • High acetylcholine normally means better skill maintenance and transfer.
  • Muscle dominance… if you are quads dominant your weak point in the back squat will likely be the posterior chain,so if you only do quads dominant squats you won’t get a great performance increase in the back squat
  • Training experience… the more you have done a certain movement, the more stable the skill, the less you lose if you stop doing it for a while.
  • Weak links: the more an exercise fixes a weak point, the greater the gains on the target exercise will be
  • Structural similarities: the more similar a movement is to the target one, the greater the transfer. People who easily transfer motor skills might be able to transfer gains from a movement pretty far away structurally to the target exercise, but many won’t and will need something very close “feeling-wise”… for the back squat it could mean box squat, Anderson squats, Narrow stances/heels elevated squat, wide stance squats, etc.

skill maintenance sounds like me exactly. I find its the only lift like this for my body.

I found this too. I remember even Clarence Kennedy saying something like he can’t go more than a day without squatting or the movement feels ‘alien’ to him, and he’s one of the best squatters around.

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Side note I felt a better core contraction and was able to stay more upright using the pad like CTs athlete https://youtu.be/9aDL6AVDk2E

Yeah it’s the law of specificity. You can improve the size/strength of all the muscles involved with the squat independently but if you’ve been doing it for a while and then stop, it will likely take a little time to get back to where you were at. While I feel this is true with the squat more than the bench or deadlift, I notice it with all 3.
I personally am too quad dominant and therefore when I do front squats, it actually is great for my back squat (to be fair I also do high bar). However, I’ve been doing more box squats recently to get some more posterior chain activation on my back squat, and it has gone down a little because I haven’t been doing it recently.
All that being said, if you bring up both your strengths and your weaknesses without doing the movement, you should give yourself a chance of hitting a bigger PR in the future when you get back in the groove.

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