Think of front squats as an advanced progression of goblet squats. Both benefit from anterior loading, which further encourages a “true” vertical squat pattern. Front squats simply allow you to use more weight.
The upright stance of a front squat allows for more emphasis on knee flexion/extension and better targeting of the quadri fibers for tension and growth. With your quadriceps taking on more work, there’s potentially less stress on your posterior chain.
Having the load in front of the body also encourages posterior weight shift to help those who are taller or have mobility restrictions to “hack” their squat depth almost by default. They are also one of the best exercises for cleaning up squat mechanics with their increased demands on the core, upper back, and position.
Front squats tend to be spine-friendly as they reduce shear stress by minimizing excess forward lean. Your spine is more resistant to compression than shearing force, which makes front squats a better choice for lifters who want to lift heavy weights without aggravating lower back problems.
- Install the bar in the rack at shoulder height.
- Grasp the bar with a clean grip, cross grip, or straps (see here) with your hands around shoulder width apart.
- Brace the bar just above your collarbones before unscrewing, keeping your elbows up so your triceps are parallel to the floor.
- As you unsnap the bar and step back, place your feet in your preferred squat position and brace your abdomen.
- Try to maintain a relatively vertical torso with your elbows at or above the bar throughout the set.
- In general, keep the reps relatively low (3-6) due to postural and breathing/bracing demands.
Bonus tip: If you really want to increase your chances of looking like Quadzilla next Halloween, try raising your heels to a wedge or small plates to accentuate knee flexion.
The best times to do them
- To unload the spine and reduce shear/compression stresses on the lower back
- To encourage a more vertical squat pattern
- To hammer the quads
- To improve squat depth and mobility in the hips and ankles
- To clean up squat mechanics and train positional integrity
- To develop strength specific to Olympic cleans