Squats and deadlifts are two of the biggest movements you can do in your training.
They’re also two of the most popular exercises.
But can performing variations of one, improve performance in the other?
In this article, we answer this question by taking a look at how front squats, a common squat variation, impact your deadlifts.
Here’s whether front squats help improve deadlifts:
Front squats place greater emphasis on the quadriceps than standard back squats. As the quadriceps are one of the main muscle groups used during deadlifts, using front squats as part of your lower body workouts can have a very positive impact on your deadlift performance.
Why Front Squats Can Help Improve Deadlifts
Front Squats Help Strengthen Your Quads
One of the key muscle groups that power a deadlift is the quadriceps.
Your quads begin the deadlift movement by activating and starting the pull motion on the bar from the floor.
Front squats focus on your quads which makes them stronger and more powerful.
This extra power can be very useful when trying to deadlift heavy weights.
Front Squats Improve Balance
When front squatting, the bar is kept in front of your body which has a big impact on your balance.
If you lean forward during front squats, you’ll quickly lose your stable base and the weight will pull you forwards and towards the floor.
During deadlifts, many people move their body weight too far back and into their heels, which prevents all of the primary muscle groups from working to full efficiency.
Front squats encourage you to keep your body weight over your mid-foot, which is where it should be during deadlifts.
This helps to improve your balance, not only when doing front squats but also when you are deadlifting too.
Front Squats Help With Hip Positioning In Deadlifts
If your quads and knees aren’t particularly strong, your hips will likely come up too high during the early phases of a deadlift.
This puts a lot of pressure on the backside of your body in your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
As front squats increase the strength of your quads and your knees, they will be able to handle more weight during the initial stages of a deadlift.
This keeps your hips in their lowered (and correct) position for longer resulting in less stress on your back, glutes, and hamstrings.
With your hips staying lower for longer, your deadlift technique will improve resulting in all of the primary muscle groups targeted by the movement working effectively, and giving you the greatest benefits from the exercise.
Front Squats Can Improve Your Exercise Posture
One of the most common errors people make when deadlifting is they do not keep a flat back.
A rounded, or over-extended, back during deadlifts can easily result in an injury.
Front squats force you to maintain good posture with your back flat and chest up in order to maintain a stable base.
They also get you into the position of having your hips and knees in a forward-facing position (as they need to be during deadlifts), so you get a good understanding and increased levels of body control.
Are Front Squats Better Than Back Squats For Improving Deadlifts?
Both front squats and back squats can help improve your deadlifts.
They help in different ways so there isn’t necessarily a clear answer as to whether one is better than the other.
Back squats help primarily strengthen your back, your glutes, and your hamstrings.
There are other muscle groups that activate too but these three are the key muscles.
Most of the muscles worked during a back squat are also being worked in deadlifts which is why back squats can help improve your deadlifts.
Front squats move the emphasis from the back of your body onto your quads.
Having strong quads can be a big help when deadlifting as they can help with body positioning, control, technique, and injury prevention.
It would be difficult to say that front squats are better than back squats for improving deadlifts.
It would be fairer to say that both front squats and back squats can improve your deadlifts.
If you need to increase your overall strength and power, then back squats could be more beneficial to you.
Whereas, if you need to strengthen your quads to enforce the correct deadlift technique, then front squats might be the better option.
Other Ways To Improve Deadlifts
Check Your Technique
As the amount of weight you deadlift increases, it becomes easier for errors to form in your technique.
A small error in technique when you are deadlifting a light weight might not seem like too much of an issue. But a small error in technique with a big weight on the bar can easily result in injury.
Before increasing your deadlift weight by too much, you should do a technique check by asking a knowledgeable and experienced lifter to watch you.
(Or even better, ask someone to record your deadlifting so you can watch it back yourself.)
The quicker you make corrections, the better your deadlifting will be.
Think About Grip Strength
Struggling to grip the bar can make your deadlifts feel a lot harder than they actually are.
If you have a strong grip, your focus can be on maintaining the correct technique during deadlifting, which will help you improve quicker and in a safe manner.
A weak grip can negatively impact many exercises, so this is something that can not only improve your deadlifting but your workouts as a whole as well.
Mobilize Your Lower Body
Having tight hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back can seriously impact your deadlifting potential.
Having an effective stretching and mobility routine can help your body work at a higher level of efficiency, which is beneficial to deadlifts and every other exercise too.
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.