Just like the back squat, the front squat is a compound exercise which works major muscle groups at the same time. It can help strengthen your core and improve flexibility. To be honest, it really helped me build strong thighs, firm abs muscles and a powerful lower back. However, many lifters neglect it and choose the back squat just because they can’t lift as heavy as they do with the back squat. That’s why today, I’m going to make you rethink the movement and more importantly, show you how to front squat properly.
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What Is A Front Squat?
Of course, it is a variant of the back squat. In this exercise, you have to stabilize the barbell across your clavicles and anterior deltoids instead of get it on top of your traps. The standard front squat requires your arms to be parallel to the ground with a clean grip. An alternative allows you to cross the arms with your hands over the barbell and palms facing down.
Why People Shouldn’t Neglect This Exercise
As mentioned above, the main reason why lifters neglect this exercise is that it’s quite more difficult to perform the front squat than the back squat. For me, there are 2 things that make this exercise harder than the other.
First, you have to focus more on your core, especially upper back so that it won’t end up round. Second, the front squat allows you to push out the knees which sometimes can bug your knee. For this reason, my advice is to wear comfortable knee sleeves or wraps. So these 2 things are what keep you from going heavy with the front squat.
But don’t you see? That is how the exercise benefits us. Trust me, you don’t have to go heavy with any exercise. I mean it can give you a stronger core and lower back, therefore, improving your stability and balance. Additionally, the front squat helps increase ankle mobility, calf flexibility and hamstring strength. This is very helpful for you to do many other compound movements.
Actually, I used to have bad ankle mobility and this is why the exercise was hard for you. But you know what, after a few weeks, my ankle got better. Therefore, now I can do way more leg exercises which require high ankle mobility I haven’t done before.
How To Front Squat In A Proper Form
Now, let’s move on to the most important part of the article. In fact, it’s not that hard, but you guys are too used to go very heavy with the back squat. And that’s the reason why you guys believe you can go heavy with the front squat, right? Believe me, I made this terrible mistake before and I couldn’t perform a front squat properly for weeks. However, don’t worry because I’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to front squat correctly.
Step 1: Set-up
First, tighten your lifting belt and start the exercise with the barbell on a squat rack. The perfect bar position is 1 or 2 inch below your clavicles while you’re standing up straight. This will help you un-rack the bar easily and safely once you finish your set.
Step 2: Hand placement
Place your hands on the barbell close to the grip you usually use for a bench press or a clean. Remember that you just need to hook your fingers around the bar instead of fully gripping it.
Step 3: Bar placement
Rest it on your clavicles with the elbows rotated upward. Just make sure that your upper arms can be parallel to the floor.
Step 4: Un-rack the bar
Tighten your core, and push your legs to un-rack the barbell. Don’t do it too fast. What you need to is to think of this step as a mini-repetition to get ready for the real attempt. If you un-rack the bar in the same way as you squat, you will lift in a very good position the entire time.
Step 5: Stance
Once you un-rack the bar, keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. However, this is not the same for everyone because you can adjust your stance as long as it’s comfortable for you. Additionally, it’s important to point your toes about 30 to 45 degrees outward and make sure that they are aligned with the knee direction. After that, pull your hips back a little bit so that you can place the resistance onto your heels.
Step 6: Lower the bar
Take a deep breath and then start bending your knees to lower your body into the bottom position. For those who have bad ankle mobility, just keep lowering yourself until the thighs and calves create an angle of less than 90 degrees. In other words, you need to allow the crease of your hip to fall below your knees. If you perform the exercise properly, the front of your knees will make a straight line with your toes.
- While you lower your body, remember the following things:
- Chest up
- Head up
- Core tight
- Sit back
- Knees out
- Elbows high/straightforward
Step 7: Raise the bar
Once you have reached the bottom position of the movement, just drive through your heels and start exhaling at the same time. Push the floor with the middle of your foot to straighten your legs again and get back to the top position. And that is how to front squat properly.
As mentioned above, this exercise requires much more mobility and stability than the back squat. That’s why if you have any problem with your back, just substitute it with other leg exercises such as the leg press or dumbbell squat.
In my experience, you should wear knee wraps or sleeves for more comfort, especially if it is the first time you do the exercise. In addition, only use weightlifting shoes or just do it barefoot, do not use running shoes other anything like that. This is because those shoes have an arch inside, thus, your feet won’t be flat and stable on the floor, causing serious injuries.
Since you always go heavy with the back squat, you need to make sure that it’s not too heavy for you to perform a front squat. Leave your ego at the door and start with light weight first before you truly master the technique.