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Why Front Squats Cause Upper Back Pain (How To Fix It!)

Front squats are a great quad-building exercise but they also help build and develop other muscle groups too. 

In this article, we take a closer look at front squats to see if they can help work your upper back, as well as looking at some common upper back issues related to front squats.

Man with upper back pain

Why Some People Get A Sore Upper Back After Front Squats

Muscle Work And Recovery

The main reason some people get a sore upper back after front squats is that their upper back muscles have been working. This results in inflammation and microscopic tears in the muscle. 

These tears and subsequent recovery can result in mild discomfort and pain, as your body works to repair the damage. 

It should be said that these tears are not a negative side effect from front squats, but rather a desired outcome.

(The recovery process is what builds strength and size in your muscles.)


You’re unlikely to get injured when doing front squats with the correct technique.

But sometimes things can go wrong.

Anything other than mild discomfort in your upper back after front squats could be a sign of injury. 

If you’re concerned you have injured your upper back, you should speak to your doctor who can advise whether any form of treatment is required. 

How To Front Squat To Minimize Upper Back Pain

The key to minimizing upper back pain during front squats is to make sure your technique is correct. 

Your upper body should remain upright throughout the movement and any curving or arching of the back should be avoided. 

Having appropriate weight on the bar during front squats also helps minimize upper back pain. 

If you’re trying to front squat with a weight that is too heavy for your ability, you have a greater risk of experiencing pain and injury.

Do Front Squats Work Upper Back?

Due to the position of the bar on the front of your body, front squats engage your upper back muscles much more than back squats. As a result, you can add some strength and bulk to your upper back through front squatting.

Topless man doing a front squat

How Front Squats Work Your Upper Back

One of the key elements of a front squat is keeping your upper body in an upright position throughout the movement. 

Clearly, your legs (mainly quads) work hard during front squats. But your leg muscles aren’t responsible for maintaining your upright position. 

This responsibility falls to your upper back and core muscles. 

Your upper back muscles have to work hard to keep your body in an upright position, as the weight of the bar encourages you to lean forward.

This is because the weight is being held on the front of your body.

As your core and upper back muscles contract, you’re able to keep your upper body in the correct position and perform a front squat correctly.

Should You Stop Doing Front Squats If You Get A Sore Upper Back?

Having a sore upper back after front squats doesn’t mean you should stop doing them. 

Front squats are actually a very effective exercise for working your upper back muscles.

This means that you should feel some mild discomfort in your upper back after you have been performing them correctly. 

Think about how your biceps feel after you have performed bicep curls.

Your biceps will be sore as they’ve been working hard to move the weight up and down in a controlled motion. 

Any soreness in your upper back after front squats should be equivalent to the discomfort you feel in other muscle groups after targeting them during exercise.

If the soreness becomes more severe and is preventing you from completing tasks in your everyday life, you should stop doing them and speak to a doctor as this could be a sign of injury.

Are Front Squats Better Than Back Squats For Your Upper Back?

Front squats, when performed correctly, work a wider range of muscles than back squats.

Your upper back, core, shoulders, and arms all work in addition to your quads, hamstrings, and glutes during front squats. 

Back squats put more emphasis on your lower back and glutes whereas front squats move the emphasis to your quads and upper back.


In summary, front squats can hurt your upper back by working the muscle tissue in your upper back. If the pain is severe, it could be a sign of injury.

That’s all for this article, but do front squats work glutes? Or perhaps you’re interested in front squat vs leg extension?

Hope this helped!


Front Squats Muscles Worked

Back Pain from Squats