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Front Squats vs Zombie Squats: Which Exercise Is Better?

If you’ve done research on leg exercises, you’ll probably have come across front squats and zombie squats.

Both of these exercises have quite a few similarities, so knowing which one is best suited to you can be quite challenging.

Well, that’s where this article comes in.

In it, we look at the two exercises in terms of their difficulty, their variability, which muscles each one targets more, as well as looking at some safety considerations too.

By the end of it, you should be in a strong position to know whether front squats or zombie squats are better for you.

What’s The Difference Between Front Squats And Zombie Squats?

Both of these exercises are very similar in terms of movement.

The main difference comes from the position of your arms in each exercise.

During front squats, your arms are bent into a position where your hands are holding the bar on your fingertips at the top of your chest.

In zombie squats, you aren’t actually holding the bar at all.

Instead, your arms are stretched out in front of you and the bar simply sits in place due to your upright body position.

Zombie squats require near-perfect technique, as if you move your body even slightly out of position, the bar will roll forwards and force you to either correct your technique or stop the exercise and reset.

Which Exercise Is Better For Quads?

Front squats and zombie squats are both primarily focused on building your quads.

Although they both do a great job of building quads, it could be argued that front squats are slightly better because you’re able to lift more weight during the exercise than you can in zombie squats.

As the bar isn’t held in place during zombie squats, a lighter weight is normally needed in order to perform the movement correctly.

As front squats allow you to lift more, you can overload the working muscles more which can help build them quicker.

Which Exercise Is Better For Hamstrings?

Although your hamstrings will activate during both front squats and zombie squats, neither is particularly focused on this muscle group.

As the weight is held over the front of your body, the muscles on the backside have to work less so they don’t get as much benefit as they would from back-loaded squat variations.

Both exercises can help build hamstrings, but there are better squat variations out there for this than these two.

Which Exercise Is Better For Glutes?

Pretty much all squat variations bring your glutes into play to some extent.

Like your hamstrings though, they won’t benefit as greatly from these two exercises as they would with back-loaded variations.

That being said, as your glutes are a big strong muscle, being able to lift more weight during front squats could make them a bit more beneficial for your glutes when compared to zombie squats, where a lighter weight will need to be lifted.

Variability

Front Squats

Front squats don’t offer a huge amount of variation. 

You could add a resistance band around the bar to increase the difficulty level somewhat, but the movement and equipment would be the same as the standard version.

Another way to mix up your front squats is to use dumbbells instead of a barbell.

This can be a bit more comfortable as your wrists will be in a more neutral position.

You need to bear in mind though, that you will have to lift the dumbbells up into position which can limit the amount of weight you can front squat.

With a barbell, you can use a squat rack which holds the bar in a higher position so it’s much easier to get it into the correct position.

Zombie Squats

Due to the body and arm positioning of zombie squats, there really aren’t many options when it comes to variability.

You can pause at the lowest point of the movement to increase the stress the working muscles are placed under but there aren’t many more ways to change things up.

The Verdict

Neither exercise offers much in the way of variability, but front squats just beat zombie squats as you can use different equipment if you choose to.

Zombie squats are difficult to adapt so will pretty much always be the same exercise.

Difficulty

Front Squats 

Front squats are a relatively easy exercise to perform as long as you have a good foundation of strength in your lower body.

One of the most challenging parts of the exercise is hand positioning as it can be quite uncomfortable for your wrists and elbows.

Although these joints won’t be put under stress as a result of the movement, they will be placed under stress as a result of the somewhat unnatural position they in to hold the bar.

Zombie Squats

Although your starting position for zombie squats will be more comfortable than front squats, the biggest challenge is to ensure your technique is correct throughout the movement.

As the bar is just resting in place, if your body position moves forward, the bar will move which can cause issues for your lower back, arms, and other working muscles.

(Here’s a short vid showing you how to do zombie squats correctly…)

The Verdict

Both exercises have reasonably simple movements.

However, it’s the addition of the weighted bar that increases the difficulty level.

Zombie squats will probably have a slightly higher difficulty level as you have to maintain near-perfect technique throughout the entire movement. 

During front squats, the hand position will take some getting used to, but once you’re used to it, front squats usually have a reasonably low difficulty level.

Safety Considerations

The main safety considerations for front squats and zombie squats are to ensure the weight you are trying to lift is appropriate for your current strength and fitness levels, and that your technique is correct at all times.

Trying to lift too much weight in either of these exercises can put excessive stress on the muscles and joints in your lower body, which can lead to injury.

Injury is also a risk if your technique is not correct.

Even small errors can cause much bigger issues than you might expect so it’s important to get things right.

Front Squats vs Zombie Squats: Which Is Best?

Front squats and zombie squats are very similar exercises.

Front squats offer slightly more variability and are a little easier to perform.

Zombie squats offer a more comfortable position and are a bit more of a challenging exercise.

Ultimately, as they are so similar, it will probably be your personal preference as to which one of these leg-building exercises you add into your workouts.

Sources

Front Squats Muscles Worked