As an exercise, the front squat is heavily overshadowed by the barbell back squat.
It is considered a ‘regression’ in certain circles, where it is used as a mere stepping stone allowing you to move towards a full back squat.
Ultimately, the front squat does not get the love that it truly deserves.
That’s why I am here to tell you that it should be a staple in your training if your goal is to improve strength and overall athleticism!
The front squat smashes the anterior core
Most wouldn’t think it, but one of the key benefits of front squatting is the load it places the muscles of the trunk.
Due to the bar position being slightly in front of the torso, it effectively tries to pull the spine into flexion. This creates a HUGE demand on the muscles of the anterior trunk to maintain a nice upright spinal position, making it a fantastic way to build core strength and stability.
This actually leads quite nicely into our next point…
It’s hard to cheat a front squat
During a heavy set of back squats, it is pretty common to fatigue through the erectors of the lumbar and thoracic spine.
This results in ‘caving’ of the trunk, causing a movement that kind of looks like a squat / good-morning hybrid that places a large amount of shear force on the spine.
This cannot happen during a front squat due to the bar position. If we lose our upright position during the front squat by caving forward, we will lose the bar.
This actually makes it a safer variation, while limiting poor movement patterns and poor compensations.
The front squat demands mobility
To perform a deep front squat, you need good mobility at the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine.
By front squatting often (and addressing any serious mobility requirements) we can improve mobility and movement quality, while also improving our strength throughout a large range of movement.
This can go a very long way in improving our ability to improve strength in the gym, reduce our risk of injury during athletic movement, and improve our overall athleticism.
Front squat strength directly carries over to athletic movements
Simply looking at the front squat we can see its similarities with a number of athletic movements.
The upright trunk position during the front squat is very similar to that we see during jumping, bounding and sprinting. So it makes sense that getting stronger in the front squat can directly improve our capacity at performing these athletic movements.
Additionally, due to its ability to build strength in hip and knee extension, it can also improve our ability to accelerate, change direction rapidly, and perform jumping and bounding movements.
The front squats improves squat and deadlift strength
The upright torso position of the front squat places a serious demand on the quads. This helps improve knee extension strength, which directly improves our capacity to perform other movements.
Obviously, this carries over directly to the back squat. Having strong quads is only going to improve your ability to squat more weight. Also, considering that the front squat can significantly improve strength of the spinal erectors, it will improve our ability to remain upright in the back squat. This improves our capacity to perform the movement, making it more efficient (AKA stronger) and safer.
Secondly, improve quad strength will significantly improve your deadlift strength off the floor. The first portion of the deadlift (floor to knee) is VERY quad dominant, and as a result front squats can seriously improve deadlift strength.
So, there you have it.
To summarise: Front Squats = Gainz
I would recommend using front squats as the core movement on one lower body day per week for lower reps (4 sets of6 reps, or 5 sets of 4 reps, etc.), and then as an assistance exercise on your other lower body days for slightly higher reps (3-4 sets of 10-12 reps).
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