Here is a biomechanical comparison of back squats vs front squats, i.e., squats with a barbell on the back and chest.
Front squats vs back squats
Front squats can be useful compared to back squats for people with problem knees.
The strength and stability of the knees play an important role in both sports and daily activities. A better understanding of the biomechanics of the knee joint during the performance of various types of squats could be useful both for the selection of exercises and for the purpose of rehabilitation.
Science about the rivalry
Scientists conducted a quantitative study and compared the kinetics of the femoral-tibial joint, as well as muscle activity when doing squats with a barbell on the back and chest (frontal squats).
Due to a change in the center of mass position during squats with a barbell on the chest and on the back (depending on the position of the bar), we suggested that squats with a barbell on the back lead to an increase in the load on the knee joint, and frontal squats lead to an increase in the load on the muscles of the extensors of the knee and a decrease in the load on the muscles of the extensors of the back. We used a cross-sectional study design.
To evaluate the resulting strength, knee torque, and muscle activation levels, a combination of video and strength data was obtained, as well as an electromyographic score from 15 healthy, trained people.
Squats with a barbell on the back, as a result, showed significantly greater compression force and a moment of force when extending the knee than frontal squats. The shear forces in the knee were small in magnitude, directed backward, and did not change from variations of the squats. Although the position of the neck did not affect muscle activity, muscle activation during the ascending phase was significantly greater than during the descending phase.
Frontal squats were just as effective as back squats in terms of full muscle utilization, but with significantly less compression and flexion.
The results show that front squats can be useful compared to classic squats with a barbell on the back, for people with problem knees (for example, meniscus tearing) and for the long-term health of the knee joints.
Additionally, see the top 3 myths about squats you should know do avoid.
What is more, we’ve prepared an analysis concerning the miraculous set–point theory.