Training Basics: The Front Squat

It’s no secret that squats are the king of lower body exercises.


Few movements are more metabolically demanding or better for building muscle than squats. Sure the leg press, leg extension, hack squat and leg curl machines are great options for targeting various portions of the lower body, but no single exercise provides more muscle-building, fat-melting benefits than squats.


But, when it comes to using squats to build the lower body, many individuals assume you “have” to perform back squats.


The issue is that while squats can be great for building muscle and strength, not everyone can do it (for any number of reasons).


Fortunately, you don’t just have to back squat to build the lower body.


The front squat is a mighty formidable exercise enabling you to thoroughly wreck the quads and train the upper back and core while avoiding the unnecessary spinal loading of back squats.


Front squats can be performed with kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, or even a landmine apparatus.


For an extra challenge, and increased time under tension, pause at the bottom of each rep. Doing so eliminates the stretch reflex which makes the quads have to work that much harder to drive you out of the hole.

How to Perform Front Squats

To perform the front squat:


  • Begin with the barbell across the front of your shoulders


  • Hand grip for the bar is the same as that of a clean -- focus on driving your elbows up so the upper arms are parallel to each other and the ground.


  • Feet are between hip and shoulder width apart, with toes pointed out 10-15 degrees


  • Tighten your core, set your shoulders down and back, and begin to descend by dropping your butt straight between your feet


  • Focus on driving your knees out over your toes and continue to lower until your hips are at least parallel to the ground (if not lower)


  • Pause in the hole and then drive through your midfoot to stand back up forcefully squeezing the glutes and quad

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