The quadriceps and the glutes do most of the work during back squats, but if you squat below parallel, your hamstrings also have their fair share of fun.
Are back squats enough to develop big hamstrings? Not really. If your goal is to build the best hamstrings you can have, exercises like deadlifts, good mornings and leg curls would be a better choice. However, it would be naive to think that deep squats don’t hit the hamstrings.
Imagine the following situation – a lifter decides to perform only squats as a lower body exercise. Eventually, his squat reaches 350lbs. If that person has decent or at least average deadlift proportions, he or she may deadlift over 300lbs on his or hers very first attempt. How would that be possible if the squat does not work the posterior chain?
Summary & Additional Notes
– The barbell back squat works the hamstrings but not nearly as much as dedicated exercises like the deadlift.
– People need to wake up and leave the artificially created exercise camps where lifters spend a large amount of time obsessing over different movements. Just use whatever tool you currently need.
– The front squat does not produce the same effect because it calls for a more upright back position. This reduces the stress on the hamstrings.
– If you want to know more about the role of the hamstrings during back squats, consult the post on hip drive.