Tall Lifters: Front vs. Back Squats
For most tall or long-limbed lifters, the front squat is a better choice than back squats because it allows them to hit depth easier and maintain a more upright torso position.
When lanky guys do back squats, the exercise often turns into a weird squat/good morning hybrid. This shifts more of the load onto the lower back, increases injury risk, hits the quads less, and has all the other people in the gym cringing at your form.
The front rack position required for the front squat means of course the weight is front loaded. This allows the weight to act as a counterbalance. This is what allows the more upright body position, and it really targets the quads. So when selecting your staple squatting movement for quads, go with the front squat over the back squat. To make it even more effective, pause your reps at the bottom of each lift.
Remember, one of the biggest problems with squats for tall guys is hitting depth. Tall guys tend to struggle with mobility. And mobility issues can only be solved by training for increased mobility.
This doesn’t have to revolve around tedious, physical therapy-style mobility drills though. Instead of all that fluff, you can use a brutally effective training strategy that simultaneously boosts your strength, size, and mobility. Sounds good, eh?
The Power of the Pause
In the video my client, Ahmed, demonstrates how paused front squats can work for tall guys.
Paused reps are a phenomenal tool. Adding them into your training means you can get an effective stimulus for the muscles, improve technique, enhance mobility, and refine your form – all without having to do goofy-looking “prehab” work.
Sure, unloaded mobility work has its place, but it doesn’t necessarily carry over to movement patterns performed under heavy load. For example, many long-limbed lifters find that squatting with an empty bar looks really ugly. As load is added to the bar, however, their form tends to improve. The weight on the bar forces the body into a loaded stretch. As a result, hitting these positions and then pausing is a fantastic mobility, stability, and muscle-building technique.
Paused reps are vital for many tall guys. First, they inhibit the stretch reflex and minimize momentum. This means that your muscles do more work and get a greater stimulus. This enables you to train true strength from the bottom up.
Second, paused reps can really enhance technique. By stopping in the bottom range (the most mechanically disadvantaged position on squats and bench), you build stability in this range and ingrain proper technique.
Tall guys tend to lack stability at the bottom of a squat. This causes them to shift their weight forward or back. Unsurprisingly, this increases the risk of a missed lift, injury, and limits the amount of weight on the bar.
Spending a few seconds at the bottom of each rep can have a positive impact on your ability to stay tight at the bottom of your reps. Over time this means you can lift more weight, through a greater range of motion, and with better form.
Sets & Reps
Because of the front-racked position and the added time under tension created by pausing, keep your reps in the 4-8 range and pause for 1-4 seconds in the hole.