How to Perform a Front Squat to Get the Most Out of the Exercise

Have you performed a front squat lately? Most people head straight for the back squat before ever attempting a front squat. To get the most out of your leg exercises, it’s probably a smart idea to learn and perform front squats first. Once you have mastered the form and technique, then progress to the back squat. Here are a few benefits of performing this beneficial compound exercise.

Benefits of Learning Front Squat

  • Front squats can help teach going to go a deeper depth with better posture typically due to lighter loads and bar placement.
  • The front squat teaches you to keep your elbows and chest up while executing the lift.
  • Performing front squats prior to back squats in a workout will ensure you overload the front thighs. You may have to go light with your back squat because of the uptick in volume.
  • Changes muscle activation. Bar placement changes the muscle activation pattern of the exercise, placing more stress on the front of the body. Meaning, the quadriceps and the abdominals are worked more. The back squat will also work the quadriceps and abs as well, but places more stress on the posterior chain, like the hamstrings, glutes and low back.
  • The exercise may be a better option if dealing with back issues than the back squat.
  • Your front squat should be roughly 75-85 percent of what you can handle in your back squat.
  • A published study in 2015 showed that front version of the exercise placed less strain on the low back. Researchers hypothesized this was due to the more upright posture needed in a front squat and the placement of a loaded bar not being directly over the spine.

Exercise Technique

  1. Set up a barbell on a squat rack so that it is about level with your chest.
  2. Position the barbell between the shoulders and neck, keep your elbows lifted up to create a ‘shelf’ that the barbell sits on.
  3. Un-rack the bar and take about two to three steps backward.
  4. Your squat stance should be roughly shoulder width, with your toes turned out slightly.  
  5. As you would for your back squat, lower into your front squat.
  6. Focus to staying as upright as possible, and keep your elbows and chest lifted throughout the exercise.

Front Squat (Photos)

Barbell Front Squat (video)

Final Thought

Hopefully this article “opens up your mind” a bit when it comes to the value of front squats. Back squats are and always will be king when it comes to leg exercises. They are a great compound exercise but doing both exercises will lead to better overall leg development.

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