The front squat is a great squat variation that targets the anterior chain and builds core, hip, and leg strength.
In this article, we’ll explain how to front squat with proper form. We’ll also cover some common mistakes when doing front squats and provide useful tips to perfect your technique.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Front Squat with Perfect Form
- 2 Front Squat Form: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 3 Other Exercise Posts
- 3.1 The Top 5 Leg Press Muscles Worked
- 3.2 Arnold Press Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 3.3 Leg Extension Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 3.4 Hack Squat Muscles Worked and Benefits
- 3.5 Decline Bench Press Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 3.6 The Top 5 Bench Press Muscles Worked
- 3.7 How to Do a Lat Pulldown with Proper Form
- 3.8 How to do Bulgarian Split Squats with Proper Form
- 3.9 The 5 Best Gym Machines for Chest
- 3.10 The 8 Main Muscle Groups Worked by Squats
- 3.11 Barbell Row Benefits, Muscles Worked, and Form
- 3.12 Hammer Curl Benefits and Muscles Worked
- 3.13 The 7 Best Compound Chest Exercises
- 3.14 Seated Cable Row Benefits, Form, and Muscles Worked
- 3.15 The Top 9 Muscles Worked with Deadlifts
- 3.16 The Top 10 Muscles Worked by Planks
- 3.17 Side Plank Benefits, Form, and Muscles Worked
- 3.18 Arnold Split Workout + Example Spreadsheet
How to Front Squat with Perfect Form
- Start with barbell resting on a squat rack.
- Position hands slightly outside shoulders on the bar, palms facing upwards and elbows pointed toward ground.
- Step towards bar and lift onto front delts while keeping elbows high and chest up.
- Take a few steps back from squat rack, and stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Take a deep breath and brace core before descending.
- Begin to squat down by pushing hips back and bending knees, keeping chest and elbows high.
- Lower down until thighs are parallel to ground, maintaining neutral spine and stable core.
- Pause briefly at bottom, then drive through heels and stand up tall.
- Exhale at the top and repeat for desired number of repetitions.
- Carefully re-rack the barbell back onto the squat rack at the end of the set.
For a visual guide, check out this video from Scott Herman Fitness. Skip to 2:00 to watch Scott demonstrate the proper front squat technique.
Front Squat Form Tips
- Perfect setup
- Keep elbows lifted
- Engage shoulders and lats
- Keep chest lifted
- Push knees outward
- Find right grip style
Setting up properly for a front squat is essential for safety and proper technique. Ensure the squat rack position aligns with the clavicle without excessively bending knees or standing on tiptoes to unrack the barbell. Keep chest up and don’t let the elbows drop until the set is over and the barbell is re-racked.
Keep elbows lifted
Front squats require more wrist mobility than other squat variations. Keeping the elbows lifted so that the forearms are parallel to the floor keeps the torso upright and prevents the barbell from rolling down the arms toward the ground. Consider including a shoulder and wrist mobility routine to improve front squats and help maintain the proper position.
Engage shoulders and lats
Engaging the shoulders and lats in a front squat helps to stabilize the barbell and prevent it from rolling forward. It also helps to transfer the load onto the legs and core, reducing strain on the lower back. Keeping the upper posterior chain rigid can improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Keep chest lifted
Keep the torso as vertical as possible when doing front squats. The chest should stay puffed out and lifted to avoid bending forward. Keep the toes pointed slightly outward to allow a deep squat position without creating a forward torso lean. Record the movement from the side to check that the barbell remains directly over the midfoot and upright position is maintained.
Push knees outward
Keep the knees tracking over the toes, and pay close attention to stance when setting up for a front squat. Push the knees outward to engage the leg muscles. Practice pushing the knees outward with lighter weights and a band around the upper thighs.
Find right grip style
Front squats are a common source of wrist pain for many lifters. Experiment with different grip styles to discover comfortable placement. The standard front squat grip has the hands just outside shoulder width with the barbell resting across the pointer and middle finger knuckle. If you lack the wrist mobility for this grip, try a cross-grip front squat with arms crossed and hands gripping the barbell with an overhand grip. The hands can either rest across the inner collarbones or touch opposite shoulders. Stop and readjust if experiencing pain.
Front Squat Common Mistakes
- Not hitting full depth
- Skipping warmup
- Not practicing front squats
- Wearing inadequate shoes
- Looking down
Not hitting full depth
Get the most out of front squats with adequate depth. Aim for at least parallel, or ideally, have the hip crease slightly lower than the knee to engage the quads and glutes more effectively. Limiting the range of motion makes front squats less effective and can indicate poor hip or ankle mobility. Doing a proper warm-up, incorporating a stretching routine, or using lifting shoes can help to hit full depth.
Skipping the warmup
Front squats require decent ankle, hip, wrist and shoulder mobility. Before going for a heavy barbell front squat, do some light cardio to warm up the muscle groups and then choose some dynamic stretches to loosen up tight muscles. Do a few bodyweight squat reps to warm ankles and hips, along with shoulder mobility exercises.
Not practicing front squats often enough
Front squats take time and practice to perfect. The front squat is a specific skill, and the strength and technique from doing back squats don’t typically convert. If new to front squats, start slow by using lighter weights and practicing keeping an upright torso, engaged core, and lifted elbows. Practice your technique at least once a week.
Wearing inadequate shoes
Always use flat-soled shoes or proper lifting shoes. Invest in heeled lifting shoes for added stability for poor ankle mobility. Wearing thick-soled trainers not designed for squatting can cause a loss of balance and failing the rep.
The body tends to follow where the eyes look. Looking at the ground can cause a torso forward-lean, throwing off balance. Look up to help lift the chest and elbows and the barbell securely across the front of your shoulders.
Front Squat Form: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Both squat variations serve different purposes and have pros and cons. Back squats are better for targeting the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles. Most lifters will usually be able to use a heavier weight in a back squat than in a front squat.
The front squat strengthens your anterior chain and makes it easier to maintain an upright torso. The front squat is also an excellent core strengthener and targets the quads more than the back squat.
However, front squat weight will likely be less than back squat.
If you’re weighing the pros and cons of the front squat, you may also want to consider popular front squat alternatives.
If you’re still working on the shoulder and wrist mobility for a barbell front squat, try other variations, like a goblet squat, to practice the movement pattern. You can then move on to exercises like the double kettlebell front squat, which allows the wrists and elbows to move more freely.
Yes, building strength and front squat technique will translate to better back squats. Front squats are excellent at building stronger leg muscles, particularly the quads. Most lifters will find that their back squat improves, and they can maintain an upright torso more easily after perfecting their front squat.
The barbell front squat can cause wrist pain due to the barbell’s position on the front of the shoulders, which requires a significant amount of wrist flexibility to maintain. Some lifters prefer a cross grip front squat to alleviate wrist strain or front squat alternatives like the goblet squat or the kettlebell front squat.