The Big Three- Part II: Squat

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The Big Three- Part II: Squat

The Second Belief:

The second belief I have in the weight lifting world is the squat. I believe the squat is the best, basic, and most functional of the leg exercises. In reality it is a full body exercise-but really works the legs well-if done somewhat correctly. Even done badly you should see some results and have your legs get stronger. I really believe that you should do some squats in your routine. You do not have to squat three times a week by any means-but at least once a week is a good idea.

The Three Common Squats:

There three basic and most common squats that people get into. These are high bar squat, low bar squat, and front squats. Which one is the best is a subject for endless debate amongst the online “experts” that permeate our world. I’m not going to call myself an expert. I think that you should try all three at various times-if nothing but to change things up every once in  awhile. Weight lifting is great-but sometimes you need to change this up a little to break some of the monotony.


Looking at this picture and going left to right we have:

  • Front Squats:

The name says it all with the front squat. The bar is held in front of you instead of on your back and the bar is resting on your delts. There are seemingly two most common ways to hold the bar when doing the front squat. There is the crossed arm version:


and the what I call “Olympic” hold:

imagesfornt squat 2

Is there a difference for leg growth-I think you would be hard put trying to prove that (nothing promotes muscle growth like steroids-just an FYI-arguing over the grip of the front squat for max muscle growth is a waste of breath). Personally, I like and use the crossed arm version-the other one just hurts my wrists t0o much and I don’t like that. Others prefer the other way-whatever lifts yours weights is what I say.

It does seem that the front squat is the most back friendly of all squats. This has to do with the angle your back is relative to the floor. For me-this is true-my back does not get sore when I do the front squat and I can go a lot deeper than the other squats. On the other hand-I cannot left as heavy as the other squats-for some reason I am just not as strong. Also, you may have a more sore knee than the low bar squat-this is probably because you can go lower with the front.

The front squat works your quads the most out of the three and because of the way you have to keep your back straight-your core really needs to work. This core building I feel is essential to full body muscle growth and overall strength. I highly recommend the front squat-and is all I do for my squat work.

  • High Bar Squats:

Here, the bar is on your back and the bar is held high on the traps near the base of the neck. This is probably considered the “classical” squat by most people-whether they lift or not.

highbar squat

Like the front squat this style works your quads more than low bar squats. It also works the knees more and again I am not as strong as I am with the low bar squat. It also is very good leg and core building exercise. To execute-in the squat rack come up under the bar and place the bar high on your traps closer to the base of your neck. Pick up-step back and start squatting. Builds your legs well and you should also have more overall relative strength than if you did another leg exercise.

  • Low Bar Squats:

This is the squat that has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, due mainly to many online weight-lifting gurus (we know who they are). There is a lot of debate about this style of squat among lifting Aficionado‘s out there in the world. There is no question that using this technique you can put more weight on the bar and at least look like you are squatting a lot of weight. You can achieve a much wider stance-but not go as low in my opinion(which really opens up the question of how low do you really have to go to get your muscles to “grow”-I think not as low as people make it out to be but opinions vary)-than the high bar or front squat. There is definitely a debate on how much the low bar squat actually works your quads versus your glutes and hamstrings. Some have even compared it to a modified “good morning” which if done without the right technique at all is very similar.

low bar

“Good Form”


“Bad Form”

index-good mornings

“Good Mornings”

Obviously, the bad form and good mornings look pretty similar-although you would not catch me doing a good morning to save my life. It hurts my back just looking at it. I am sure some people swear by it-I am not one of them.

Doing good form low bar squats probably has some benefits-and I also believe the in the power of lifting progressive higher weight for strength/growth.

In my opinion you should try all three-see what one works the best for you. More importantly which one makes you look and feel the best. There is no point in doing low bar squats and then not being able to walk-that does not make any sense.


Squatting is a great overall exercise and considered the king of the power lifts. There are three main types: front, high bar, and low bar squats. Each has their plus and minuses-try all three to get the best of everything. Rotate them through every few weeks and see the results.



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