Back vs Front Squats: What Works the Glutes the Best?
By Robbie Durand
Full, Parallel, and Front Squats: What Works the Glutes the Best?
Most females that are looking to build impressive glutes will perform squats, lunges, leg presses, etc. Previous research investigating the effects of squat depth on gluteus maximus activation found that gluteus maximus EMG amplitude significantly increased with depth. This means that women who want to develop great glutes need to perform a full squat. Another variation of the squat is the front squat but not many women front squat. The front squat is performed when an athlete holds the bar in the front rack position (resting on the shoulders with elbows up) and squats down, as opposed to having the bar on the top of the back.
Researchers wanted to examine activation of the glutes during full, parallel, and front squats. The researchers measured activation of the upper gluteus maximus, lower gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and vastus lateralis of a front, full, and parallel squats.
At the end of the study, there were no significant differences between full, front and parallel squats in any of the tested muscles. An interesting finding was that peak vastus lateralis EMG activity during front squats was about 21.5% greater than during parallel squats, despite lighter workload. This means females looking to increase lean quad muscle should incorporate front squats. Given these findings, it can be concluded that the front, full, or parallel squat can be performed for similar levels of EMG activity. This study should be of great significance to women because despite requiring lower loads, the front squat may provide a similar training stimulus to the back squat. The front squat appears to be a viable alternative to the back squat since muscle activation is similar between the two variations.
Contreras B, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ, Beardsley C, Cronin J. A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis EMG Amplitude in the Parallel, Full, and Front Squat Variations in Resistance Trained Females. J Appl Biomech. 2015 Aug 6.