In this article, you will find detailed steps on how to perfect your front squat form. I follow these tips in my personal training routine and they helped me a lot to perfect my form.
I spent 2 weeks researching the best tips online. Then I tested them for myself so that now you can benefit from them.
Most front squat form instructions online are either text-oriented or image-oriented. I set out to fix that and create a good balance between them.
A good front squat form is crucial to keep your body free from injuries. However, make sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
So follow the steps below to benefit as much as possible from this powerful compound lift.
To perform the front squat, you will need a barbell with some weight plates and a squat rack to support it.
Make sure the bar is resting on the rack at the same level as your shoulders.
Types of grips
Olympic or Clean grip
To use the clean or the olympic grip, place your palms on the bar slightly wider than your shoulders. Then slide four fingers under the bar.
If you lack wrist mobility, you can use two fingers instead.
Your palms should face up and your fingers should lightly touch the bar for stability, not grip it hard.
Keep your arms parallel to each other and raise your elbows as high as possible.
This grip is the most advanced one and requires high wrist mobility.
The strap barbell grip is a variation of the clean grip that uses lifting straps to secure the bar.
To use this grip, wrap up the bar with the straps shoulder width apart or slightly wider. Then grab the straps as close to the bar as you can. Position your elbows forward under the bar and as high as possible.
Your wrists should face towards the midline of your body. Your arms should be in the same position as in the clean grip.
To use the cross grip, cross your arms in front of the bar and grab the bar with each hand at the opposite shoulder.
Your palms should face down and your thumbs should point inwards. Keep your elbows high and your arms parallel to the floor.
This grip is easy and comfortable and does not require any wrist mobility. However, it may tire your arms more than the clean grip.
Unracking the bar
To unrack the bar, get under it and catch it with your preferred grip. The bar should rest on the “shelf” created by your front shoulder muscles and collarbones. Stay aligned with your midfoot.
Your grip should stabilize the bar, but your torso should control it. Keep your elbows and chest high and your back straight.
Step back from the rack and position your feet shoulder-width apart. Your toes and knees slightly turned out. Find a stance that feels natural and comfortable. Look 10-12 feet ahead of you, either straight or slightly up, to keep your neck in a good position.
Take a deep breath, brace your core, and squeeze your glutes. You are now ready for the next phase.
The descent phase
To perform the descent phase, lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor or lower. Bend your knees and hips at the same time, keeping your chest and elbows high.
Keep your spine neutral and avoid rounding your lower back. Brace your core and keep it tight. Make sure your knees track your toes and do not cave in.
Press your feet firmly into the ground, using your big toe, little toe, and heel. Reach the bottom position to finish the move.
The bottom position
You have reached the bottom position of the front squat.
In this phase, your knees should slightly exceed your toes, but not too much. This may vary depending on your thigh length.
Your spine should remain neutral and your lower back should not round. Keep your core braced and prepare for the final move.
The ascent phase
To finish the front squat, stand up from the lowest position to the initial position. Keep your core tight and your spine neutral.
Don’t let your knees cave inwards, but keep them tracking your toes.
This will protect your knees and activate your leg muscles better.
Dropping your elbows
Dropping your elbows during front squats can affect your performance and safety.
It is often caused by poor wrist mobility, which makes it hard to keep your elbows high and your chest up.
This can lead to rounding your upper back and losing the stability of the bar. The bar may roll forward and put more pressure on your wrists and shoulders.
To prevent this, try using two fingers instead of four under the bar. You can also place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
You can also use alternative grips, such as the cross grip or the strap grip. That does not require as much wrist mobility.
Rounding your lower back
Rounding your lower back is a serious mistake that can cause injury.
It is usually caused by squatting too low while having poor ankle mobility. To avoid this, stop your descent when your thighs are parallel to the floor.
You can also use lifting shoes or place weight plates under your heels. It will improve your ankle mobility.
Caving your knees in
Caving your knees increases the risk of knee injuries and pain.
To avoid this, actively push your knees outwards during the movement and keep them aligned with your toes.
Try experimenting with your stance width and find the optimal one for yourself.
It may be that your stance is too wide and makes it harder to keep your knees out.
You should also work on improving your ankle mobility. When it is poor it can cause your knees to cave in.
Front Squat Benefits
They work your entire body
They activate every muscle group from your feet to your arms, with a focus on your lower body and core.
They strengthen your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hips, which help you perform other movements better. They also challenge your erector spinae and rectus abdominis, which protect your spine and support your trunk.
Additionally, they involve your shoulder complex, scapula, and lower back. This enhances your mobility and posture. It is a versatile and effective way to improve your fitness level and health.
They build quads
Because front squats keep the torso upright, they target the quads more effectively than back squats.
This leads to more quads activation and growth, which can improve your performance and aesthetics.
They are easier on your back and knees
By holding the weight in front of your chest, you have to keep your torso upright and your core engaged.
They strengthen your core
As an anterior chain dominant movement, front squats target the muscles on the front of your body.
You have to hold the weight in front of your chest and keep your spine in a neutral position. This requires a lot of core strength and stability, as you have to resist the tendency to lean forward.
Front squats may be better than back squats for avoiding lower back injuries, especially when lifting heavy weights.
They boost your testosterone
As a compound exercise, they work multiple muscle groups at once.
This has a positive effect on the production of testosterone which is a key hormone responsible for protein synthesis in your muscles.
They improve your bone strength
Front squats are also good for your bone health and density.
When you lift weights, you apply mechanical stress to your bones. This stimulates them to grow stronger and thicker.
Other Squat Variations
Back squats are a more “hip-focused” lift.
They target the muscles of your hips and glutes more than your quads. To do a back squat, put the bar on the top of your back, over your shoulders.
Then follow the same steps as the front squat.
Sandbag front squats
To perform a sandbag front squat, hold the sandbag tight against your chest. Keep your elbows pointing down. Then follow the same phases as the bar front squat.
To perform a dumbbell front squat, hold your dumbbells above your shoulders. Palms facing each other.
Then follow the same phases as in the barbell front squat.
In this version, you can either use one or two kettlebells.
Using one kettlebell requires your torso to balance the rotational force of the weight on one side of your body.
Hold the bells close to your chest, with your elbows tucked in and your forearm vertical. This is called rack position. Then follow the same phases as in the barbell front squat.
Don John is the creator of the goblet squat.
To perform this move, hold the kettlebell or the dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands. Keep your hands above your elbows.
Then follow the same phases as in the barbell front squat. In the bottom phase touch your knees with your elbows.
Goblet squats have loading limitations. You can’t use very heavy weights. Therefore, you need to do more reps to get the same benefits as other front squat variations.
What to do next?
Be sure to practice your front squat with light weights before transitioning into heavy weights. Don’t forget to check out our latest article on the best shoulder workouts.
Which Grp is the Best For Me?
It depends on your wrist mobility. Start with the clean grip. Remember that you don’t need to wrap all your fingers around the bar. The pointing and the middle fingers will work.
If that’s too much for your wrists, switch to the straps grip.
What is the Difference Between Front and Back Squats?
The main difference is where the weight is placed. Because in front squats you will hold the bar in front of your body, you will naturally keep your torso straight.
Front squats are also a bit safer to your spine and knees because of the naturally forced upright position.
While front squats are more quads-dominant, back squats are more hip-focused.
What is the Main Advantage of Using the Barbell in Squats?
When using the barbell, you can fully transfer the weight to your legs. It then becomes a true leg movement. With other variations such as goblet or two-kettlebell squat, you will have to adjust the weight according to what your arms can handle. You will then increase the number of reps rather than the load.