The squat is known as the king of exercises for good reason because it intensely works the thighs, hips and back, but it’s not the only way to squat. The front squat is also a productive exercise and deserves your consideration. The front squat is a valuable assistance exercise for weightlifters training the snatch and the clean and jerk (source). This way of squatting places more emphasis on the thigh muscles and less on the hips compared to the regular squat, but both make you work hard.
Performing the Front Squat
Setting the weight on your shoulders properly is the key to performing the front squat and avoiding injury. Take the time to practice getting the bar into the correct position before adding weight.
- Set a barbell at about shoulder height on a power rack or squat rack.
- Lean into the bar so it presses into the front of your shoulders.
- You should feel the bar at the point where your neck and chest meet.
- Grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder width grip like you’re going to perform a shoulder.
- Step back with the barbell high on your shoulders, elbows pointing down.
- Maintain firm grip, but your shoulders and core should support most of the weight.
- Place your feet at least shoulder width apart with your feet turned out a bit.
- Take a deep breath; hold it and squat down until the tops of your thighs are about parallel with the floor.
- Exhale as you stand up under control, keeping your torso and head upright.
Tweaks and Fitness Tips
You may have seen people performing this exercise with their arms crossed over the bar instead of holding on to the bar the way I described. The bar can role down your shoulders using the arms crossed technique. This can throw your body out of position ruining your set or even causing injury. Everyone’s proportions are different, but with the front squat it’s important to keep the bar as high on your shoulders as you can. Use your core to keep your torso upright so you don’t put too much strain on your lower back. Improving the flexibility of your wrists and shoulders will help you maintain the proper position. It might take a little more practice to get this exercise right, but keep at it because it’s worth the effort!