The front squat is much more quad dominant than the back squat due to the more closed knee angle and more open hip angle. There is less musculature involved here, therefore you will be weaker on the front squat than the back squat.
Front Squat 101
Front Squat — Setup
Start with the bar racked at nipple height. From this position, there are a number of different grips you can use.
- Clean style is how you see olympic lifters come out of the bottom portion of the clean and jerk, with the palms facing forward, hands at shoulder distance. Two fingers on the bar will generally be more comfortable than all four fingers on the bar.
- Bodybuilding style is with the forearms crossed over each other, and the palms facing downward.
Both methods require high elbows to develop a shelf with your chest and front delts for the bar to rest on.
- Just like with the back squat, unrack the bar vertically and then walk backwards to take your stance. No diagonal bar movement.
- The stance for the front squat is typically more narrow than the back squat, but this is still a personal preference.
- Choose the stance that allows you to reach depth without getting in the way of your elbows or belly.
- Your balance point is the midfoot, so the torso angle in the front squat is more vertical than the back squat.
- Because the bar is on our front, we need a more vertical torso to keep the bar over midfoot.
Front Squat — Execution
1. Inhale and squat
Remember: Full lungs and a tight core are what allow you to protect your spine.
- Breathing is the same as the back squat.
- Exhale at the end of the movement when you are back at the top of the rep.
Front Squat — Coaching Cues
Keep the elbows up. This will keep the upper back in slight extension, which will do 2 things:
- Keep the shelf the bar rests on more comfortable
- Keep the torso more upright
Look just below straight ahead.
- DO NOT lead the movement with your eyes by looking up at the ceiling.
- Cranking the neck (cervical spine) is a great way to ensure a future injury in any exercise. Lead the movement with the chest and elbows.
Keep your knees out.
- Just like with the back squat and deadlift, the knees should be tracking out over the toes throughout the whole movement.
Front Squat — Adjustments
Mobility may prove to be an issue for some. The front squat requires more ankle mobility than the back squat. If you are lifting with flat shoes and can’t reach depth, put a 2.5 or 5 lb plate under each heel. Giving your heel a lift will remedy most issues.
Low back pain is a sign of a weak core. The point of these exercises is to point out weak points and imbalances in the body so that you can fix them. You may find that the limiting factor for many movements is a weak core. Take solace in the fact that this is super simple to fix and will have secondary benefits on other aspects of your life. The remedy is to lighten the load and embrace progressive overload. Put your ego away and lift the weight that is appropriate for you on this specific day. You’ll get to the big weights when it’s time. Enjoy the process.
Wrist issues can be adjusted for by trying the alternate grip or using wrist wraps as handles on the bar.
Caveat: This exercise guidance should never usurp the advice of your medical professional. If there is a question in your mind as to the suitability of this exercise for you confer with your doctor. WATM is not liable if you do something ill-advised after reading any of our fitness content.
Front Squat — Further Resources