The front squat is one of the best alternatives to the traditional barbell squat as it effectively strengthens both the quads and glutes, as well as a range of other important muscles around the body.
The exercise is similar to a back squat, except the bar is placed across the front of your shoulders rather than the upper back. This allows you to complete the exercise with a more upright posture, making the lift significantly kinder on your spine.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the front squat exercise, including everything you need to know about the technique of the movement, its benefits, and some of the common mistakes to avoid. We’ll also look to answer a few of the frequently asked questions.
To start the movement, have the bar securely positioned in the squat rack, level with the middle of your chest, or just higher. Grip the bar with your hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and step in close to the bar.
Once you’re in the right position, lower yourself into a quarter squat so the bar is touching both the top of your chest and the front of your shoulders. Then, bring your elbows forward and as high as possible to make sure your body remains upright and the bar is secure in your hands. Finally, drive up off the floor to remove the bar from the rack.
Take a step backward when you’ve removed the bar from the squat rack, and get your feet into a position where they’re shoulder-width apart and your toes are pointing diagonally away from each other.
Brace yourself, take a deep breath, and then bend your legs to lower yourself into a squat position. When travelling down with the weight, keep your heels down and your knees wide apart. Lower yourself until your legs are parallel with the floor, then drive off the ground so you’re back up to standing.
Things To Avoid
There are a number of mistakes that people make when performing the front squat. Listed below are four of the most common to avoid.
- The first mistake to avoid is not staying vertical enough throughout the movement. Your weight needs to be kept over the middle of your feet so that if you drew a line from the bar down to the floor it would bisect your feet. This means that your body needs to be significantly more vertical than it would be if you were performing a back squat.
- Another common mistake is failing to squat deep enough. This is all down to poor ankle and hip mobility with many people only dropping down a few inches when performing a front squat and thinking they’ve completed a full squat.
- Making sure you’ve developed good shoulder and wrist flexibility is vital in order to grip the bar properly with your fingers. If you don’t develop enough shoulder and wrist flexibility, there’s every chance that your form and technique will be incorrect.
- If you want to get as strong as possible, you’ll need to target some heavier reps. However, the heavier you go, the more likely it is that you’ll fail the lift, so learning the bail correctly is essential. Failure to do so is a common mistake many lifters make and is extremely dangerous.
Benefits Of The Front Squat
Considering the front squat is a compound exercise that works multiple joints and muscles at the same time, there are a number of benefits of the movement. Listed below are three of the most prominent.
1. Builds A Strong Core
During the exercise, the position of the bar and your upright torso contribute to strengthening the front of your core muscles (abs and obliques). This makes it easier to lift heavier weights in other lifts such as the deadlift and back squat. As a result, the front squad is often used as a weighted core exercise.
2. Improves Mobility
Front squats are incredibly effective when it comes to improving the mobility in your upper backs, shoulders, and hips. So, if your body is feeling weak or your technique is slightly off in other lower body exercises, adding some front squats into your routine might be a good solution to the problem.
3. Builds Strong Quads
The front squat is one of the best exercises for athletes looking to build quad strength and size. So, instead of locking yourself into the leg extension machine, it’s much more beneficial to build your quads through the front squat exercise.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Important Is The Correct Hand Positioning?
If you’re not used to movements like the front squat, you may have limited flexibility in your wrists and forearms, making it difficult to execute the movement with the correct technique.
However, hand positioning is vital to the overall efficiency of the exercise so start by warming your wrists up. An effective way to do this is to interlock your fingers and rotate your wrists in both directions for two to three minutes.
Another good method of improving your hand positioning and strength is to cross your arms and hold the bar against your shoulders when you’re about to lift the bar out of the squat rack.
How Often Should I Front Squat?
Ideally, you should look to perform front squats two to three times a week if you’re trying to improve your strength and power. If, however, you’re looking to build muscle mass in your thighs, you can perform front squats once to twice a week.
Are Front Squats Easier On The Back Than Back Squats?
Yes, the upright torso position of the front squat puts considerably less stress on the lumbar spine than the back squat movement. That being said, a back squat performed with the correct technique shouldn’t pose too many problems.