Sentinel Performance LLC

In our experience, we often come across people looking for one quick and simple answer to a question they have always had about exercise, and one of the most popular of these questions we seem to always get asked is “what is the one version of the squat I should do when I am at the gym?” Typically their confusion arises from the fact that they know that squats are good for them, but, 1) they’ve never been taught how to do a proper squat in the first place, and 2) they see a multitude of variations of the traditional squat done by others in their gym, but don’t know what the benefit of those variations are, and wonder if they are missing out on something.

The three main  variations (back squat, front squat, and overhead squat) all have different benefits that will help an individual in different ways based off of the muscles that they each activate and the additional flexibility and stability challenges that they offer. Therefore, the best thing to do is to break down each movement, understand their individual benefits, and then decide for yourself which one you should implement based off of your given needs and wants. 

  • Back squat
    • Center your body under the bar inside the rack
    • Keeping your abdominals tight, and back straight, push your hips back and down toward the floor, staying on your heels, until your thighs reach just below parallel to the floor
    • Stand back up by driving through your heels
  • Front squat
    • Position the center of the bar underneath the front of your chin
    • Separate the hands slightly wider than armpit-width, swing your elbows under the bar to the point where they are facing directly forward, and allow the bar to rest on the top part of your shoulder muscles
    • Push your hips down and back until the thighs are below parallel, and then drive back up through the heels to standing
  • Overhead squat
    • For this exercise, start with the bar behind your neck as in the back squat start position, and separate your hands into your snatch-grip position (wider than shoulder-width)
    • Press the bar overhead so that the elbows are locked out, and your arms are in direct line with your torso
    • Maintaining the bar overhead the entire time by stabilizing your shoulders, and keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together, complete the squat movement, again, by pushing the hips down and back, and then driving through the heels to stand back up 

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