The front-loaded barbell squat is a great squat variation that we love. We encourage all of our clients to learn how to do it well for many reasons.
First off, to do this with full proper technique is a right of passage. It requires a tremendous amount of mobility and motor control in the wrists, shoulders, hips, ankles and thoracic spine.
Secondly, this variation of the squat itself acts as a core exercise. You’ll experience significant core engagement to maintain proper alignment of the bar while moving deep into the squat.
Few people move well enough to execute a perfect front squat. But with patience and a solid training program you can definitely get there.
If you’ve spent a lifetime sitting at a desk, it will likely take a lot of effort to get you into the full proper position. Fortunately, there are some alternative ways to set up the bar so that the squat is beneficial:
The Cross-Arm Front Squat
If wrist mobility is your limiting factor, try this variation instead. It's generally easier for most people than getting into the front rack position.
2. The Front Squat With Straps
This front squat variation is for those that find the front grip challenging. Using straps can be more comfortable and take the strain off the joints while keeping the elbows up.
3. The Safety Bar Squat
This is an amazing exercise that produces huge strength gains while preventing injury. It’s great for those lacking the upper body mobility needed to get into a front rack position.
4. The Kettlebell Goblet Squat
This variation is fantastic for those learning how to squat. We recommend using a kettlebell to groove the movement pattern before loading up the body.
Wherever you are along your squat journey, there is a variation for everyone. We highly recommend including the front squat as a staple in your training program.
Benefits of the front squat
Targets core muscles significantly more than typical “core” exercises like the plank.
Helps you work on your hip, shoulder, wrist and ankle flexibility.
Improves your squat technique. It’s very difficult to cheat with the front squat.
Trains and strengthens the quads much more than regular squats. Keeping the bar in front of you shifts your point of gravity noticeably. This forces you to maintain a much more upright position which can lead to more quad recruitment.
Gives you variety. Muscles thrive on variety to get stronger. Mixing in the front squat with other variations can help you achieve a higher level of fitness.
Transfers into athletic performance.
Improves jumping, speed and lower body control.
Prepares you for advanced training (e.g. Olympic lifting).
Always remember, motion is lotion. We encourage you to Move Well, Live Well™.
If you’re interested in improving your flexibility or need help with exercise, click here to book a complimentary assessment and we would be happy to help.