Front Squats Exercise Guide

A front squat is a squat performed with a barbell that is held in front of the chest rather than behind the back. It is a lower-body strengthening exercise that you can do at home or in the gym on a regular basis. Besides targeting your quadriceps, this exercise targets your glutes, which are also known as the butt muscles.

Front Squats Exercise Guide

How To Do Front Squats

Setting Up

To start, have the bar properly set in the squat rack, level with the middle of your chest or just higher. Step in close to the bar and grip it with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Lower yourself into a quarter squat with the bar touching both the top of your chest and the front of your shoulders once you've found the right position. 

Next, make sure your body stays upright and the bar is secure in your hands by bringing your elbows forward and as high as possible. Lastly, push the bar up off the floor to release it from the rack.

Exercise

Get your feet into a location where they're shoulder-width apart and your toes are pointing diagonally away from each other when you've taken the bar from the squat rack.

Before lowering yourself into a squat position, brace yourself, take a deep breath, and then bend your legs. Keep your heels down and knees apart as you travel down with the weight. 

Lower yourself until your legs are parallel to the floor, then drive off the ground so you're back up to standing,

Tips 

  • Ensure that you have the ears aligned with your shoulders and that the shoulders are rotated externally. Failing to do this will strain your back and that can be a long-term problem.
  • Get the elbows in line with the shoulders. Stop restricting yourself and get them in the position they need to be in. 
  • The spine should be neutral and the bum not excessively stuck out or tucked under the hips. Getting this right will really help you do the front squat correctly and safely.
  • You should at least get your thighs parallel to the ground.

Exercise Benefits

  • Builds A Strong Core
  • Improves Mobility
  • Builds Strong Quads

Illustrated Guide

Muscles Worked

Primary Muscles

  • Quadriceps

Secondary Muscles

  • Core muscles
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Front Squat Variations

Band - Resisted Squat

If you find that lifting the weight on the bar isn't enough for you, you can add a resistance band. This raises not just the total resistance in the lift but also loads that resistance towards the top of the move, where the band tension will be at its peak.

This means you won't have any extra weight on the bottom half of the exercise, which may be harmful given the squat's mobility issues, but it will boost your power and motivate you to drive all the way up as you stand to overcome the band's growing resistance.

To do this variation, attach the resistance band to a racked bar and stand on it until it is taut, keeping the two loops on the bar somewhat wider than shoulder-width apart.

Then, as usual, complete your front squat, being careful not to lose form owing to the increased resistance in the second half of the exercise.

Front Squat Alternatives

Goblet Squat

Start with a kettlebell or dumbbell and work your way up if you're not comfortable about taking on a loaded barbell in a front squat. Hold the weight against your chest with your arms bent and your hands above your elbows (as if holding a goblet in two hands).

Squat until your elbows are in contact with the insides of your knees, then push yourself up to standing. This exercise will help you get used to squatting with a weight in front of your body while also serving as a great leg strengthener.

Zercher Squats

Zercher squats are similar to front squats. They work your biceps, core, upper back, and lats as well as your leg muscles. Zercher squats tend to put less pressure on your joints and lower back than more traditional squats. 

Begin with your barbell loaded with weights and resting on the squat rack. Allow the barbell to settle in the crease of your elbow, and pull your lower arms towards your body. Stand as if you are performing a standard squat, but set your feet slightly wider apart. 

Keeping your back straight and your torso upright, bend your knees. You should lower into a squat as per usual. As your body lowers, your elbows should fall in between your knees. Once you reach the lowest point, drive your feet into the ground and use this force to push yourself back into a standing position. 

Ensure you keep your chest facing forwards and up. Keep the barbell as close to your body as possible to ensure the squat has maximum impact.

Kevin Harris
Latest posts by Kevin Harris (see all)