Although most guys think of the core as the superficial and deep abdominal muscles, the core muscles are those that wrap around the spine from front to back. That means the spinal erectors in the lower back are an important muscle component of the core. Since core strength can aid your strength on most exercises, you want to be sure to hit this group of back muscles. Although most trainers would recommend a core-strengthening exercise known as the Superman to hit the spinal erectors, another option appears to be the front squat.
It is well known that the Superman, which is a back-extension exercise performed on the floor or on an exercise ball, is ideal for targeting the spinal erectors to strengthen this area of the core.
Due to the fact that the bar is placed on the front of the shoulders during the front squat and that the torso must remain further upright during the front squat than the traditional back squat, the front squat is a less-known exercise for strengthening the spinal erectors.
-Researchers from the United Kingdom compared the muscle activity of the spinal erectors when strength-trained men performed the Superman exercise on an exercise ball and the front squat using an empty bar.
-They reported in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that the front squat increased muscle activity of the spinal erectors by 5% more than the Superman exercise.
Spinal erector muscle activity was greater during a front squat, despite the fact that an empty bar was used, compared with activity during a Superman exercise. Adding weight to the bar will increase muscle activity of the spinal erectors even more.
Adding front squats to your leg workouts is a great way to focus more on the quads, but it is also a great way to simultaneously strengthen the spinal erectors of the lower back. Since it’s tough to train all your major body parts, let alone find the time for specialized core training, FLEX recommends using the front squat frequently to build not only bigger wheels but also a stronger core.
REFERENCE P. Comfort et al., J. Strength Cond. Res., 25(1):149–54, 2011.