A preliminary comparison of front and back squat exercises

Res Q Exerc Sport. 1989 Sep;60(3):201-8. doi: 10.1080/02701367.1989.10607441.


The purpose of this study was to compare the knee extensor demands and low back injury risks of the front and back squat exercises. Highly strength-trained college-aged males (n = 8), who performed each type of squat (Load = 75% of front squat one repetition maximum), were filmed (50 fps) from the sagittal view. The body was modeled as a five link system. Film data were digitized and reduced through Newtonian mechanics to obtain joint forces and muscle moments. Mean and individual subject data results were examined. The maximum knee extensor moment comparison indicated similar knee extensor demands, so either squat exercise could be used to develop knee extensor strength. Both exercises had similar low back injury risks for four subjects, but sizable maximum trunk extensor moment and maximum lumbar compressive and shear force differences existed between the squat types for the other subjects. The latter data revealed that with the influence of trunk inclination either exercise had the greatest low back injury risk (i.e., with greater trunk inclination: greater trunk extensor demands and lumbar shear forces, but smaller lumbar compressive forces). For these four subjects low back injury risk was influenced more by trunk inclination than squat exercise type.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Injuries*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Lifting / injuries*