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Front Squat 101: A How-To Guide

January 18, 2012

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The Front Squat is a foundational exercise for any athlete who wants to build strength and power in the legs and hips, particularly in the quads and glutes. It varies from the traditional Squat by shifting the weight to the shoulders, reducing stress on the back and placing more emphasis on building quad strength. Through this guide, you'll learn perfect Front Squat technique to take your workouts to the next level. Finally, check out some of STACK's Front Squat workout videos, featuring elite athletes like Connor Barwin and Shawn Horcoff, to learn how you can adapt the Front Squat for your sport.

Front Squat How-To

  • Assume athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Rest bar across front of shoulders with clean grip
  • Keeping back straight and knees behind toes, sink hips back and lower into squat position until thighs are parallel to ground
  • Explode up by driving through heels and extending knees and hips to return to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Front Squat Technique

Getting Started

Beginners should focus on perfecting form and technique before adding resistance. Perform Bodyweight Squats or use a broomstick in place of a barbell. Once technique and strength are improved, perform the Front Squat with an unloaded bar. Extend your arms in front to learn proper bar positioning, and focus on lower body technique and upper body stability.

Advanced Front Squats

For an additional challenge, increase your Squat depth or rise up onto your toes to strengthen your calves. You can also alter the bar and foot positions to challenge your lower-body muscles from different angles to continue muscle growth. Or, try single-leg exercises to develop strength equally in both legs and increase balance.

Common Front Squat Mistakes and Solutions

  1. Knees Collapse Inward: Reduce resistance for subsequent sets. Also, perform Bodyweight Squats with a mini band wrapped around thighs just above knees to strengthen the muscles that keep the knees aligned with the hips and ankles.
  2. Knees Travel Beyond Toes: Reduce resistance for subsequent sets. Focus on sitting your hips back and keeping your chest up.
  3. Clean Grip is Uncomfortable: Arm and shoulder tightness may make this grip impractical or impossible for some. To address this issue, use a cross-grip (bar across shoulders with arms folded, grasping bar at opposite shoulders).
  4. Upper Body Strength Limits Weight: This occurs when you rely on your arms to support the bar. Instead, position the bar across your shoulders and keep your elbows at shoulder height and chest up so your trunk is supporting the bar.

Front Squat Technique Variations

To continue making strength and size gains, it’s important to vary your exercise selection. Learn how to Squat and find a full list of squat variations in Squat 101: A How-To Guide.

Topics: SQUAT | EXERCISES
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
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