Squat Loading Position Considerations Based on Clients’ Needs

by Brandon Hyatt, MS, CSCS
Personal Training Quarterly June 2024
Vol 11, Issue 1


This article will analyze and compare squats with different loading positions to draw out practical applications for the personal trainer.

Paywall block issue

This article is not configured properly for members or paid content.
isMemberOnly: {{isMemberOnly}} | isPaidContent: {{isPaidContent}}
spc: One or more parts of the product SPC is missing.

Read the full article

View the video

Login to view more

{{discountDesc}} Valid thru {{discountEnds}}

This {{ogType == 'video.other' ? 'video':'article'}} is available with a NSCA membership

This {{ogType == 'video.other' ? 'video':'article'}} can be purchased for {{prices}}
Price includes membership pricing and promotions

Purchase this {{ogType == 'video.other' ? 'video':'article'}}. Price range: {{prices}}
Price range includes membership pricing and promotions

Become a Member Add to Cart Login

This article originally appeared in Personal Training Quarterly (PTQ)—a quarterly publication for NSCA Members designed specifically for the personal trainer. Discover easy-to-read, research-based articles that take your training knowledge further with Nutrition, Programming, and Personal Business Development columns in each quarterly, electronic issue. Read more articles from PTQ »

Related Reading



  1. Biscarini, A, Botti, FM, and Pettorossi, VE. Joint torques and joint reaction forces during squatting with a forward or backward inclined Smith machine. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 29(1): 85-97, 2013.
  2. Chiu, L, and Burkhardt, E. A teaching progression for squatting exercises. Strength and Conditioning Journal 33(2): 46-54, 2011.
  3. Collins, KS, Klawitter, LA, Waldera, RW, Mahoney, SJ, and Christensen, BK. Differences in muscle activity and kinetics between the goblet squat and landmine squat in men and women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 35(10): 2661-2668, 2021.
  4. Coratella, G, Tornatore, G, Caccavale, F, Longo, S, Esposito, F, and Ce, E. The activation of gluteal, thigh, and lower back muscles in different squat variations performed by competitive bodybuilders: Implications for resistance training. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(2): 772, 2021.
  5. Glassbrook, DJ, Helms, ER, Brown, SR, and Storey, AG. A review of the biomechanical differences between the high-bar and low-bar back-squat. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 31(9): 2618-2634, 2017.
  6. Gullett, JC, Tillman, MD, Gutierrez, GM, and Chow, JW. A biomechanical comparison of back and front squats in healthy trained individuals. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(1): 284-292, 2009.
  7. Hecker, KA, Carlson, LA, and Lawrence, MA. Effects of the safety squat bar on trunk and lower-body mechanics during a back squat. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 33(1): S45-S51, 2019.
  8. Joseph, L, Reilly, J, Sweezey, K, Waugh, R, Carlson, LA, and Lawrence, MA. Activity of trunk and lower extremity musculature: Comparison between parallel back squats and belt squats. Journal of Human Kinetics 31(72): 223-228, 2020.
  9. Kristiansen, E, Larsen, S, Haugen, ME, Helms, E, and van den Tillaar, R. A biomechanical comparison of the safety-bar, high-bar, and low-bar squat around the sticking region among recreationally resistance-trained men and women. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(16): 8351, 2021.
  10. Kruse, A, Rivares, C, Weide, G, Tilp, M, and Jaspers, RT. Stimuli for adaptations in muscle length and the length range of active force exertion - A narrative review. Frontiers in Physiology 12: 742034, 2021.
  11. Krzysztofik, M, Wilk, M, Wojdała, G, and Gołaś, A. Maximizing muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review of advanced resistance training techniques and methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(24): 4897, 2019.
  12. Layer, JS, Grenz, C, Hinshaw, TJ, Smith, DT, Barrett, SF, and Dai, B. Kinetic analysis of isometric back squats and isometric belt squats. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 32(12): 3301-3309, 2018.
  13. Park, JH, Lee, SJ, Shin, HJ, and Cho, HY. Influence of loads and loading position on the muscle activity of the trunk and lower extremity during squat exercise. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19(20): 13480, 2022.
  14. Schwanbeck, S, Chilibeck, PD, and Binsted, G. A comparison of free weight squat to Smith machine squat using electromyography. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23(9): 2588-2591, 2009.
  15. Ulm, R. Strength training effectively without low back pain. Presented at the National Strength and Conditioning Association National Conference, Las Vegas, NV. July 2023.
  16. Yavuz, HU, Erdağ, D, Amca, AM, and Aritan, S. Kinematic and EMG activities during front and back squat variations in maximum loads. Journal of Sports Science 33(10): 1058-1066, 2015.
About the author

Brandon Hyatt, CSPS, CSCS

Contact Brandon Hyatt

Contact Brandon Hyatt

Your first name is required.
Your last name is required.
Your email is required.
Your message is required.
Your reCaptcha is required.

Your email was successfully sent to Brandon Hyatt

Brandon Hyatt is a seasoned personal trainer, educator, writer, and speaker, boasting over seven years of dedicated experience cultivating thriving fi ...

View full biography
#NSCAStrong #NSCAStrong

has been added to your shopping cart!

Continue Shopping Checkout Now