Front squats vs back squats for athletes


I for one would be very interested in seeing this. A couple years ago Charlie mentioned the possibility of posting some samples of the other athletes’ training diaries as illustrative examples, but I think he was always scared people would try to copy them rather than understand the logic underlying them. It’s always good to see concrete examples, especially several that differ significantly from each other, which really forces you to find the common conceptual threads that connect them.

I think the main problem with almost the entire body of strength training literature lies in the fact that it is invariably analyzed in isolation without a sufficient appreciation for how it interacts with the rest of the training components (plyometrics suffers the same fate). The end result is almost always an overly complicated system. Charlie told me that those kinds of complexities make sense when weight training is your primary or sole activity, but most have to fall by the wayside when weights take a backseat to speed work. That’s why Charlie’s videos on Weight for Speed are so brilliant. I know of nothing else that really explains exactly how weight training properly integrates with speed and evolves over time with performance levels.

“certainly I would begin reverse leg press”

Angela, there have been a thread or two where myself and others were wanting to know what is being used now for a proper reverse leg press.
Not having to modify the use of an old Universal station type leg press, as you described how you did it in the past.
Do you know of anything on the market that would be affordable, not something as "commercial/expensive"as the Butt Blaster, maybe something that could be fabricated at a local metal shop?

The only thing I can suggest is a resisted leg swing while on your hands and knees for the beginning or early stages but this certainly does not replace the reverse leg press.
If you found someone at a local metal shop speak to them about your needs and see if they can help you out.
WE used the old universal machines at york and I still see some of them around but they are poorly maintained and stiff to use at times.
I am not sure what else to suggest.

I was thinking that since Rich is probably talking about dealing with a developmental athlete, he might be able to get away with using one of the stiffer Therabands for resistance, and doing a donkey kick-like action as I think Ange is suggesting. You’re looking at $5 or less for a 5 foot Theraband, so the price is right!


maybe modify exc. # 6 in the link above for your needs?

BTW, I have many of the products from the CF store including 2002 Vancouver video (VHS) and the 02 forum review. It’s all Great Material that I would recommend to anyone.

Thanks Angela, great suggestion…

and also thanks to T-Slow and Balance for variations of this.

just hook it to the power rack at the correct height and go!..and I like the price!

Both variations look easily doable…and on the cheap.

Could someone tell me which of the strength video(s) from the store best cover how weights integrate with speed.


Weights for Speed. Get the whole bundle.

Perhaps Dan Pfaff consulted with Mike Boyle?

Seriously, the Trap Bar point is an interesting one in that some say it should be avoided, particularly during competition period due to the stress it places on the posterior chain. Would like to hear member’s thoughts. Wouldn’t any exercise at any point have it’s fatigue risk? What about working with a young woman and finding this is the best way to intensify things? Should it be dumped in favor of a very light back squat?

I can see the trap bar DL being perhaps phased out during the competition period. I have read the same for the Glute Ham Raise. It has it’s benefits at the right time.
I am just in the process of viewing Charlie’s weights for strength again but do seem to recall that the DL was part of the general weights but removed closer to competition.

I don’t believe he does trap DL or squat (when done) for more than a few months out of the year, GPP pretty much. I notice most lowerbody static lifts are dropped by Pfaff and Schexnayder during the competitive period. This is for sprinters, jumpers…I would imagine for a bobsledder, football player, and maybe throwers they would not drop the lowerbody statics as much.

That is correct Trevor. Once I started doing more deads we might have done a few , heavier in very small numbers but squats were left for comp period providing all was going well.

IMO always pick something more basic like a light back squat especially for a female who sounds less experienced? Don’t forget the general idea that you can add but you can’t take away. What is the rush anyway? The squat can be mimicked in a multitude of ways.
If I had a female client and there was some discussion about what challenging lower body exercise to begin with? Have you done the med ball " around the body" exercise with her? and " under hand throws" ? Both are an excellent way to get a lot of work done, they are fun to do and both provide some background to move closer to more lifting. Intensifying work for anyone has to be somewhat of an experiment as you need to consider the individual first and decide the exercises based on your best thoughts / based on your experience thus far. Does this make sense?
Good luck.

What are the best Hamstring exercises for Sprinting?
The best hamstring exercises for sprinting comes from sprinting itself. Speed drills ( or Power Speed Drills) are also effective hamstring exercises for sprinters and runners. The hamstring exercises noted below are supplementary to your speed training.
Outside of sprinting fast , I wanted to share some insights on Christian Thibaudeau’s T Mag article recommending his “ 7 best hamstring exercises” and how they fit into my training experience as a sprint hurdler.

  1. Back Extensions = One leg back extensions are a no brain – er in my opinion. Francis still preferred both legs. I do singles and doubles and also add in arm pulls with varied weights. I am ultra careful and plenty warmed up when I do single or double legs . I find teaching the caution aspect of training difficult. Don’t confuse caution with less effective. I rarely missed a full training day ever. Elite athletes tend to understand caution better than Less experienced athletes . Single leg stuff is higher risk for cramping. I guess cramping does not matter so much if you don’t mind missing training. I was taught to " Live to fight another day" and if you don’t have to do something with risk don’t. Find an alternative exercise or skip the exercise entirely. I have a back extension machine and use it constantly. I would not live without it.

  2. Natural Glute hamstring raise = I know I already made the point of ultra careful but if you are trying new hamstring exercises be fully warmed up and progress slowly. The disconnect in literature regarding training IMO can be not knowing the common training mistakes and what the exercise looks like within a performance program vs a fitness program. Keep the emphasis on slow with this exerecise as CT points out . I don’t ever remember going all the way down to the ground. Start with a repeatable angle and work towards going lower over time. You can get plenty done without going to the floor.

  3. We called this exercise Hamstring Ups = ( CT calls this Scissor hip Extension) We did this exercise first with double legs and then progressed to single legs. I would not start doing this exercise with speed. Make sure you can successfully do this exercise for 3 sets of 15 over a few to several week period , feel great at doing it and then add the variable of speed. As a trainer or coach make sure your athlete or client is fully warm. Cramping is very common with this single version.

  4. Leg curl = We did a lot of leg curls or hamstring curls as we called it. My first weight lifting had leg curls in each 6 week block of 1. Anatomical Adaptation Phase, 2. Max Strength Phase One, 3. Max Strength Phase Two. After this background we did a lot of supplementary leg curls depending on need and time of year.

  5. I am not familiar with this exercise but it sounds interesting and I love how easy that would be do replicate anywhere.

  6. Band Stomping = We did several versions of band resistance exercises but not quite like this. This exercise looks like theleg swings we did ( daily) only with added resistance. It looks like a great exercise.

  7. Stiff Leg Good Morning = I never did much of this exercise but I know CF liked it. I was much better at squats, cleans and RDL in that order so consequently I spent more time performing these lifts. You need to choose exercises where you get the biggest bang for your buck in your training.
    My first organized weight lifting was 6 weeks beginning in August and ending in late September. This training coincided with the end of my competitive season and the very beginning of my fall training in Canada.
    1.Half Squats were the first exercise
    2.Vertical / Upright Row

  8. Leg Curls

  9. Incline Bench

  10. Reverse Leg Press

  11. Dead Lifts. ( These lifts were ordered in priority and sometimes I might not have been able to finish all my lifts.
    I loved the feeling the results of lifting weights, getting stronger and running fast. I hope my comments shed some light on how we used the hamstring exercises discussed above.

Thanks for all the information Ange. It is appreciated!

Recent studies on the Trap bar dead lift demonstrate greater power output than conventional dead lifts. I don’t support back squats in the prescription of training programs, I prefer SLDL or low load high rep with hamstrings curls combined with front squats.

Back squats load the lumbar spine and knee joint far greater than the front squat, number of studies on peak EMG to support this claim.

There well be exemptions, some athletes anatomy and biomechanics enabled them to back squat safe.

I don’t think any of those are necessary either. In my observation it is mostly irrelevant which lower exercises are chosen in most cases. Leg press, stepup, whatever. Something to strengthen the lower body muscles.

I see you have a change of heart now days…