Many people start to do front squats because they appear easier than traditional squats. But they quickly find that having proper front squat form is harder than it looks. We will get you to perform front squats like a pro.
Front Squat Summary
- Main Muscles Worked: Quadriceps
- Other Muscles (Secondary) Worked: Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves, and Lower Back
- Equipment: Barbell
- Mechanics Type: Compound
- Force: Push
- Utility: Auxiliary
How-To Execute the Proper Front Squat Form
- Adjust the pins in the squat rack so the bar will rest at slightly below shoulder height.
- Walk up to the bar and place the bar on top of your clavical.
- Grab the bar in either a clean grip position or a cross arm position. Ensure that the bar is resting on you Deltoids. Your hands should only be there to keep the bar in place.
- Next, lift the bar off the rack and take a step back into your squat stance.
- Your stance should have your heels shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward.
- Then keeping your back straight, abs tight, and head up looking forward, begin your squat.
- Your knees and hips should start to bend simultaneously. Move the bar in a straight vertical line down.
- Lower the barbell until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should be slightly outward and directly over your feet.
- Drive the weight back up to the starting position until knees are about to lock out.
- Repeat until the desired number of reps have been completed then re-rack the bar.
Proper Front Squat Form and Setup Video
In this video, Brandon White from Buff Dudes goes over how to set up and execute a front squat. Brandon has some good tips on how to maintain proper front squat form.
Muscle Used to Front Squat
Target (Agonist) Muscles
- Gluteus Maximus
- Adductor Magnus
Dynamic Stabilizers Muscles
Additional Stabilizers Muscles
- Erector Spinae
- Deltoid, Anterior, and Lateral
- Pectoralis Major, and Clavicular
- Levator Scapulae
- Serratus Anterior
- Rectus Abdominis
7. Tips for Improving Your Strength with Front Squats
By using the tips you will help your muscles development by incorporating more muscle fibers per rep. Consequently, you will enhance your muscle’s size and strength. Additionally, you will have a better front squat form and be less likely to develop an injury.
1. Work on Proper Form and Control First
With any compound movement, it is best to work on your form before you start adding the weight. You want to use enough weight that your muscles are engaged, but not too much that you can not control the weight. Use a mirror or film yourself to see your form before you start to lift heavy. After you have done a few sets and know that you can execute the proper front squat form, then start adding the weight. If you ever notice your form slipping, then reduce the weight back to where you had good form.
2. Choose a Grip That is Comfortable for You
You may find it difficult to hold the bar with a clean grip. If you are working on performing better cleans then you will want to work on that grip. If you are trying to focus on developing your legs and don’t care about doing better cleans then use a grip that is comfortable for you, such as the bodybuilder cross arm grip.
3. Do Not Overload the Weight
While you first are learning proper barbell front squat form do not overload the weight. Besides your center of gravity, is forward compared to the traditional squat. For that reason, you can pull a back muscle by trying to compensate for the weight.
4. Keep Your Back Straight and Head-Up
Maintaining your head up and back straight will help prevent you from tipping or toppling forward.
5. Keep Your Feet Flat and Slightly Outward
Make sure your feet are flat on the floor, pointed forward and align your knees over your feet in the down position. In fact, if your knees start to turn in you risk buckling your knee and pulling or tearing your Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL).
6. Avoid locking out knees
Avoid locking out your knees and allowing your muscles to relax before the next repetition. In fact, if your goal is to build muscle then you want to stress your muscles. Consequently, if you lock your knees you are taking the tension off of your muscles and letting them rest.
7. Stop one rep short of failure
Taking this exercise to all-out failure can be potentially dangerous. Not many people train to failure consistently, and there are many benefits to doing so. You will be safer to stop one rep short of failure and safely re-rack the bar. Although if you want to work to failure, ensure that you can safely lose control of the bar without injuring yourself or others. Additionally, you should also use a spotter if you are training to failure.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Front Squating
The head coach from team Juggernaut Max Aita, discusses the four main mistakes people make when performing improper front squat from. Then he discusses how to overcome these mistakes.
Additional Mistakes That Lead to Improper Front Squat Form
When you perform an exercise improperly it is often referred to as cheating. Cheating will not allow your muscle fibers to use their fullest potential. As a result, you are less likely to achieve your desired muscle development and you have a higher potential for injury.
You Perform the Squat To Fast
If squat too fast, with a jerky motion or using body momentum, you will not allow full usage of all muscle fibers.
Locking Your Knees
When you lock your knees out while in the standing position you are in a resting position. As a result, you will take the stress off your quads and add stress to your joints.
You Bend Your Back and Neck
Failure to keep your head up and back straight can cause you to fall forward with the barbell. Additionally, this lean can also place added stress on your back and knees. Consequently, over time can lead to spinal problems and degeneration of the knees.
Not Squatting All The Way Down or Up
Many lifters do not go all the way down or do not squeeze at the top of the movement. If you don’t use the full range of motion, less of your muscle fiber will be worked and less muscle growth will occur.
You Use Too Much Weight
The front squat can be a very awkward exercise at first. Make sure you start out with lightweight in order to get a proper feel for the lift before moving to a heavier weight.
Front Squat Variations
These variations of the front squat are intended to work different subgroups of your muscles or work the same muscles in a slightly different way. There are many variations for the front squat, by just altering your grip, barbell placement or the equipment.
Barbell Front Squat Grip Variations
Front Squat Equipment Variations
Additional Complimentary Exercises for Your Legs
Complimentary Exercises to the Front Squat
Having Great Front Squat Form
Though the Front Squat is a more advanced exercise, it is a great alternative squat. You should have the confidence to perform better front squat form at the gym now. Remember the front squat is also a fantastic leg exercise that has the added benefit of helping you build a very strong core.
If you are still not convinced you should be doing front squats during your strength training check out 7 Benefits of Front Squats. If you are already doing front squats, what benefits have you seen?