The front squat is one of the best squat variations you can do.
It’s a neglected exercise for a few reasons.
It’s damn hard to do and it’s not a comfortable exercise.
But just because it’s not comfortable doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, you should.
There are many benefits to front squats. They will target your quads much more than back squats, as well it will hit the lower part of your quads (VMO) even more. The position of the bar is more towards the lower part of your thigh where the back squat hits higher on thigh.
As well Front Squats will challenge your core more than a back squat.
When it comes to front squatting it’s all about technique.
Here Are 5 Tips For A Stronger Front Squat
1. Elbows Ups
It’s important when front squatting to keep the elbows up high. Once the elbows start to dip the bar will roll forward and your posture will go.
Focus on keeping the elbows up during the whole set.
Create a wedge with your upper back and lats and keep the elbows up no matter what hand position you use (more on this at #4).
2. Brace Hard
The front squat will challenge your core differently than the back squat.
Be sure to brace hard.
When it comes to bracing you can lock down like you are going to get punched in the stomach, or you can push out and make your belly big.
3. Keep The Reps Under 5
It’s important to keep the reps low and keep the time under tension low on front squats. The longer you do this exercise the more your spinal erectors will fail. Your quads can out last your erectors for strength and time under tension. So you have limited time to hit your quads hard.
A 20 rep set of squats is brutal but effective, a 20 rep set of front squats is not a smart thing to do.
Doing high reps on front squats you will lose the bar and your erectors will fail before your quads.
So keep the reps low and the weight higher.
4. Find A Comfortable Front Squat Position
This is very important and very individual for each person.
We all move differently, we all have different injuries and mobility issues so not every one can do the standard clean grip front squat.
There are numerous ways to set up the front squat. You can use a standard clean grip, you can use a crossed arms version and you can also use straps to assist with the set up.
Find one that works for you. For me I almost always do cross armed grip as there is no way I can use a clean grip with my injuries and lack of mobility in my wrist, forearms and biceps.
5. Go Belt-Less & Paused To Make Things Harder
A great way to get stronger is to do some of your training beltless. This will force your core to work a lot harder compared to when you use a belt. When training beltless I would not recommend maxing out as I think a belt is valuable when training with very heavy loads. But not using a belt at times is a great way to strengthen your core.
Another option is to add in pauses at the bottom of your front squats. The pause can be anywhere from 1 second to 5 seconds to challenge your core and improve exp;oding out of the hole on a squat without relying too much on the squat stretch reflex.
For a double win try going beltless with pause squats. But be sure to focus hard on keeping your brace and not losing your tension to stay strong and safe.
Check out this video on bracing to get a better understanding of how to brace with and without a belt.
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