Front Barbell Squat
Front barbell squat is a key multi-joint exercise identical to regular (back) squat, except that you hold the barbell in front of your neck (on the front of your shoulders) instead of behind it. It demands a more upright body posture than the back squat and places more emphasis on your quads and core. The barbell may be difficult to balance, so start with a light weight until you master the movement. Beginners will want to learn this exercise on a Smith machine or similar system before moving on to free weights. People with wrist tightness or injury may have difficultly holding the bar in this position. With front squats, you won’t be able to use as much weight, because your buttocks don’t assist, as they do when the bar is behind your neck.
STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Stand erect and take a barbell from a rack (or have a spotter help you), letting it rest along your upper chest (across the middle portion of your deltoids). Position your feet approximately shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward. Move your shoulders back and your chest out so your back is flat and your torso is erect. Grasp the bar with an olympic-style grip or you can cross your forearms in front of your chest if you want so that your upper arms are parallel to the ground and so that each hand is on the opposite shoulder.
MOVEMENT (ACTION): Perform a basic squat, bending your knees and driving your hips back to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor or slightly beyond. Descend by bending your knees rather than starting with your hips as you would with the regular squat. Look forward and maintain the natural arch in your back throughout the squat. Do not lean forward as you squat down; keep your shoulders back and your chest out. Think of the movement like sitting back into a chair. Return to the start position by extending the ankles, knees, and hips. Keep your back flat, heels on the floor, and knees aligned over your feet.
Front Barbell Squat Tips & Tricks
- Look for a slow, controlled descent and ascent;
- No movement in the vertical line of the bar as it drops;
- No foot movement or heel lift;
- Avoid extending your knees beyond your toes;
- Avoid dropping your elbows; keep them and your upper arms parallel to the ground all the times;
- Avoid extending your head forwards or elevating your scapula and shoulders;
- You may want to place a towel underneath the bar to make it more comfortable and secure against
your neck and delts;
- Olympic-style grip means that you hold the bar in place with the ends of your fingers. This position can be stressful on your wrists, but stretching them out and slowly increasing the weight you use will help you adapt to this in due time. In addition to providing the most control over the bar, holding the bar in this manner also allows you to handle more weight and squeeze out more reps.
Front Squat Advantages
- Front squats are more quad dominant.
- Front squats are easier on your back because your torso is more erect and obviously less weight is being handled.
- If you go forward on a front squat you lose the weight, so it ‘s impossible to lean forward too excessively.
- Front squats are also a good tool to teach someone to back squat with an erect torso.
- Front squats offer great transference to jerks, push presses and Olympic lifts (more core stabilization is required)
Muscles Engaged in Front Barbell Squat
Main muscles: quadriceps
Secondary muscles: hamstrings, gluteus maximus, adductors, gastrocnemius, muscles of the lower back and along the spine
Antagonists: iliopsoas, sartorius
Front Barbell Squat Replacement Exercises
- Barbell squat (back)
- Dumbbell squat
- Leg extension
- Leg press