How to Front Squat Properly


The front squat is an exercise that helps build strength in the lower body, especially the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It is a squat variation where weight is loaded on the front of the shoulders (typically with a barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbell). So, how do you properly do a front squat and what happens if you feel pain in your wrists or another area of your body while doing one? Today, MoveU goes over how to front squat with proper form and how to do some variations if you experience any pain while doing this exercise.

What Is a Front Squat?

A front squat is like a back squat, except that a weight is placed across the front of your shoulders instead of your upper back. This puts your spine into a neutral position making for a more spine-friendly lift. It also shifts your weight into your glutes and quads, making it an effective exercise to target these muscles.

How Do You Do a Front Squat?

If you are doing a traditional front squat, you will start by placing a barbell across the front of your shoulders (on your deltoids) close to your neck. Properly prepare your squat rack and ask for help at the gym if you need it. You want your squat rack to be about shoulder height. It is recommended to try this out just with a barbell and then add weight as needed.

Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Next, place your fingers right under the barbell and point your elbows up with your biceps parallel to the ground. Keep your core activated, bend at your hips and lower your body into a squat position. You can determine if you would like to aim for a 90-degree angle or go for full squat depth. Drive back up to return to your starting position squeezing your glutes as you go up.  

What Are Some Front Squat Variations?

There are three front squat variations we recommend trying out to protect your wrists. All three options help strengthen your hamstrings, quads, and glutes without straining your wrists. These front squat variations include the following:

1. Crossed arm front squat

In this variation, keep a barbell in the front rack position on your shoulders against your neck with your arms crossed over one another. Keep your elbows as high as possible and place your hands on top of the barbell to secure it in place as you squat.

Crossed Arm Front Squat Variation

2. Kettlebell front squat

To do this variation, use kettlebells instead of a barbell. You will rest two kettlebells on the back of your shoulders and squat with them in place. This makes it easier to keep your torso upright and your spine in a neutral position as you squat.

Kettle Bell Front Squat Variation

3. Dumbbell front squat

The third option is to use a dumbbell and place it horizontally on your body in the front rack position crossing your arms in front of you. Keep your elbows up and then start squatting.

What Are the Benefits of Front Squats? 

Front squats have numerous benefits for the body including but not limited to the following:

  • Builds low body strength

  • Improves overall core strength

  • Helps with mobility

  • Aids in injury prevention

  • Improves posture

  • Increases speed and power

  • Makes everyday movements (like bending down) easier

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What Are Some Common Front Squat Mistakes?

Here are some of the most common mistakes people tend to make while doing front squats:

Lack of breath

Make sure to inhale at the top of your squat and exhale as you stand back up. Also, do not hold your breath or forget about your breath while squatting.

Improper alignment

You might fall into this category if you do not align your knees properly in a front squat or let your shoulders round forward. Make sure to push your knees out and keep them aligned with your ankles while squatting. Draw your shoulders back and down while in your squatting position to avoid hunching forward. Lift your chest up and maintain an upright torso to minimize the strain on your lower back. If your elbows point down instead of up, you will also have a difficult time doing a front squat. When you are in this position, the barbell balanced on your shoulders could slip or even fall. Your body will need to compensate in other areas to keep the barbell from slipping which could lead to muscle imbalances.

Emphasis on weight and not proper form

While we understand how epic it might look to lift a heavy barbell, you should not compromise form. Prioritize your form and the quality of your front squats over lifting heavy.

Leaning forward on your toes

It is common to lean forward on your toes in a front squat as you lean to properly align your body, but do not do this. Place your weight evenly throughout your foot and drive down into your heels instead.

Are you curious about more strength building techniques for your body? Check out the MoveU Membership online today.

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