There is a reason why the squat of all exercises is called the king.
It takes hard work, determination, and an immense amount of effort to achieve a four-plate squat. And more than that, to boot, a big squat takes a huge amount of lower body strength, a bunch of persistence, and a whole lot of mental strength.
In addition, find someone with a big squat for me and I'm going to show you a guy with a monster pair of wheels.
And for this, there is an obvious explanation.
A pair of pins that extend the trousers' seams shows a considerable amount of muscle mass. And we understand that strength is directly proportional to muscle mass (exercise science 101 boys and girls).
And I assume that most individuals are aware of this strong connection (between a big squat and big legs).
So, they squat as a result.
Ok, and squat.
And some more squat.
And while the rule of precision would certainly mean that this is the most productive way of constructing a big squat (and, subsequently, a good pair of wheels), in my personal experience, it is not.
I don't think it's the be-all-end-all, though I'm a Big fan of the barbell back squat.
And when constructing both a wide squat and muscular legs, this seems to be especially true. Of course, the barbell back squat requires a large amount of muscle mass and allows us to use heavy loads (which are necessary for both strength and muscle mass to be built) and should be an important part of a well-rounded training programme as such.
But to target those areas that it does not strengthen, it needs to be complemented by specific exercises that allow us to build on our weakest link, leading to a Big squat, and significantly optimising hypertrophy.
The Barbell Front Squat
It is sad indeed, but the front squat is forever trapped in the shadow of the barbell back squat as an exercise.
Although the similarities are evident, it's very unusual for anyone to come up and ask you, 'how much do you squat in front, brah?’’
In addition, the front squat is regularly regarded in some circles as a mere 'regression' in which it is only used as a move to execute a complete barbell back squat.
Quite honestly, the front squat doesn't get anywhere close to the respect it deserves, well and truly.
This is unbelievably unfortunate, since the front squat is one of the keys to optimising the leg growth and creating a truly jaw-dropping squat for a variety of purposes.
First of all, the front squat completely annihilates the anterior trunk muscle. And though most would not believe it, this is one of the main advantages of standard front squatting, which puts an incredibly large amount of load on the trunk muscles (think rectus abdominus and obliques).
Probably, this is due to the bar positioning during the movement.
The bar is positioned slightly in front of the torso during a forehead squat. In the end, this brings forces on the trunk that attempt to pull the spine into flexion. This, in turn, puts enormous pressure on the trunk's anterior muscles to hold a pleasant upright, neutral spinal position.
This demand makes it a great way to develop core strength and stability, which during a barbell squat is completely vital to maintaining a solid and secure trunk position.
In addition, the demand put on the spinal erectors of the thoracic spine is also increased by this same role (which are rarely targeted during the back squat due to the bar placement sitting lower on the back).
We can improve our ability to maintain good positioning during heavier led squats by building stronger spinal erectors and a stronger core, which eliminates the likelihood of caving forward during a heavy back squat (you know what I'm talking about-those squats that end up looking like a good morning), reducing the risk of injury AND leading to a stronger squat.
Second, the front squat was crushing the quads (and I mean CRUSHES).
Usually, a barbell back squat is more hip dominant than a front squat, which in turn brings more demand on the hip extensors than the knee extensors (this is related to bar placement and increased forward lean during the back squat).
We can develop a Massive amount of hip extension strength by only practising the back squat, but we can restrict our knee extension strength growth, which can lead to imbalances that can contribute to squat weakness.
By putting a primary focus on knee extension strength, front squats can help resolve this, enabling us to remove imbalances and build a solid, well-rounded squatting movement.
In addition, we can produce some extreme quad growth by putting undue focus on the quads (it seems reasonable really), leading to those jean-tearing legs you have always dreamed of.
'Stop. Hang on. Front squat 140kg for reps on reps.' No big deal...