Front, full, and parallel squats are some of the most popular squat variations. The purpose of this investigation was to compare mean and peak electromyography (EMG) amplitude of the upper gluteus maximus, lower gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and vastus lateralis of front, full, and parallel squats. Thirteen healthy women (age = 28.9 ± 5.1 y; height = 164 ± 6.3 cm; body mass = 58.2 ± 6.4 kg) performed 10 repetitions of their estimated 10-repetition maximum of each respective variation. There were no statistical (P = .05) differences between full, front, and parallel squats in any of the tested muscles. Given these findings, it can be concluded that the front, full, or parallel squat can be performed for similar EMG amplitudes. However, given the results of previous research, it is recommended that individuals use a full range of motion when squatting, assuming full range can be safely achieved, to promote more favorable training adaptations. Furthermore, despite requiring lighter loads, the front squat may provide a similar training stimulus to the back squat.
Bret Contreras and John Cronin are with the Sport Performance Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Andrew D. Vigotsky is with the Kinesiology Program, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ. Brad J. Schoenfeld is with the Department of Health Sciences, CUNY Lehman College, Bronx, NY. Chris Beardsley is with Strength and Conditioning Research Limited, London, United Kingdom. John Cronin is also with the School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.