For raw muscle-building power, few moves compare to the squat.
But not all variations are created equal. “Most men think the back squat produces the greatest gains because the bar can be stacked with lots of weight,” says strength and conditioning coach Josh Henkin. “But the front squat is a smarter choice.” It places less stress on your knees and spine, and you can achieve similar results with less weight because the move is more difficult. Use 85% of the weight you’d normally lift for a back squat.
The Front Squat
How to do it: hold the bar using an overhand grip that’s just beyond shoulder width. Raise your upper arms until they’re parallel to the floor. Let the bar roll back so it’s resting on the front of your shoulders; this is the starting position. Slowly lower your body until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Pause, and return to the starting position.