What is the front squat?
A front squat is a squat that is performed using a barbell, except that, unlike the back squat, in this exercise, the barbell is held in the front of the chest (deltoids).
Also known as a barbell front squat, front bar squat, or BB front squat, this is a compound exercise that works on several groups of muscles in your body, particularly in the anterior chain. These include:
How is the front squat done?
Since it is a weighted exercise, you need to maintain the correct front squat form. This is essential to reap the benefits of the weighted front squat and prevent injuries.
Here is a step-by-step explanation of the BB front squat:
- For the front squat bar must be set at an appropriate height. It should be placed slightly lower than your shoulders.
- While facing the barbell, step towards it and place your arms under the barbell. Make sure that your elbows are pointed forward and your upper arms are kept parallel to the floor. Keep your palms open.
- Now lift your chest slowly without extending your spine.
- Push your head back so that the front squat bar doesn’t contract your neck.
- Rest the barbell on your upper chest, in front of your shoulders.
- Unrack the bar and take a couple of steps to the back.
- Your posture should be tall, knees slightly bent, and feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Your head and neck must be in a neutral position to maintain the proper front squat form.
- Keep your chin tucked in throughout the movement.
- Before starting the downward movement, grip the floor with your feet while distributing your weight. Engage your core.
- Keeping your chest up and elbows high, begin lowering your body by bending your knees, hips, and ankles.
- Lower your body until your legs are parallel to the ground.
- Pause for a couple of seconds at this position.
- To initiate the upward movement, push your legs into the ground, keep your chest & elbows high, and squeeze your glutes. Straighten your knees and travel your hips forward to maintain the proper front squat form.
- Finish the movement by squeezing your glutes and quadriceps while keeping your spine neutral.
- This is one repetition of the front squat.
Sets and reps of barbell front squat: You can start with 3-4 sets of 6-8 repetitions.
What are the different variations of front squats?
Once you have perfected the front squat workout form, you can try the many variations of this exercise. Here are some of the best front squat exercise variations:
- Dumbbell front squat: Also known as DB front squat, this exercise is done using two dumbbells. To do the dumbbell front squat, stand straight holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing the body. Keeping your head up, follow the same squatting movement as explained in the traditional front squat exercise.
- Cyclist front squat: An advanced variation of the exercise, the cyclist front squat was done by Olympic level cyclists to gain strength. This exercise is a great way of isolating and working on the vastus medialis. To do this exercise, place your heels on an elevated surface. You can use a wedged board or barbell plates. Separate your feet by around 5-6 inches and squat down pushing the knees as forward as possible.
- Cable front squat: This variation, as the name suggests, is done using a cable machine and is an advanced version of the basic front squat. To do the cable front squat, attach the bar to the pulley and set up the cable machine. Pull the handle and hold it at the level of your shoulders and squat slowly.
- Kettlebell front squat: Done using a kettlebell, this is a low-impact exercise. To do the kettlebell front squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep the kettlebell in your left hand at shoulder height. Now complete the squatting movement as in the traditional front squat exercise.
- Front rack squat: In the front rack squat, the hands are placed at their narrowest and the elbows are at the highest point based on the level of your mobility.
Why should you do front squats?
The weighted front squat exercise has a tremendous impact on your overall health and fitness. Here are some reasons why you should care about front squats:
- An important front squat benefit is that it is an excellent compound exercise to make your lower body stronger and fitter.
- A front squat workout makes your core stronger and more flexible. This helps you lift more weights and improves your athletic performance.
- A front squat exercise is great for people suffering from postural problems. It strengthens your lower back and prevents pain, tension, and stiffness.
- A front bar squat builds power and flexibility in your muscles. This improves their flexibility, mobility, and speed. This in turn prevents injuries.
- Squats mimic your everyday movements and when you add weights to do DB front squat, BB front squat, or any of the front squat alternatives, they improve your functionality and make daily movements easier.
- An important front squat benefit is that you don’t need an elaborate setup to do this exercise. This makes them a great addition to your home workouts.
How do to front squats safely?
Here are some things that you need to keep in mind while doing the front squat to prevent injuries:
- Since this is a dynamic movement involving multiple muscle groups, you need to have proper exercise conditioning and flexibility in your wrists, hips, and ankles.
- Make sure that you learn the front squat form from an experienced trainer.
- Whether you are doing the traditional exercise or front squat alternatives, don’t start with heavyweights at the outset.
The key to gaining the benefits of front squats is to keep yourself challenged. Instead of doing the same exercise, stimulate yourself by doing alternatives like air squats, pistol squats, and other such exercises.
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