The front squat can be quite an unpleasant experience, nevertheless, it is a vital squat variation. With the weight loaded across the front of the body, tipping forwards is discouraged – or you’ll topple over. Humorous for the onlooker maybe. The upright body position drives the exercise into the quads. The above video gives ten tips – and the speaker sounds like the French-Canadian trainer, André Benoit. Here are six slightly different pointers:
- The girl in the video is very flexible, so gets all the way down with excellent form. If the low back is rounding, you may get more out of this lift if the heels are elevated and possibly slightly wider.
- Her toes are pointing outwards, about 45°. It is a good idea to turn the toes out, but by how much depends upon individual hip variation. The knees need to remain stable – not buckling in or winging out. Finding the best foot position may help overcome these faults. Also, the feet themselves should be stable throughout the movement. Be aware of them wanting to roll in or out. If the feet and knees are unstable, then, to avoid injury, remedial help is needed. So ditch this exercise and sort yourself out. Z health helps.
- As can be seen, the elbows are lifted right up, level with the shoulders and pointing forwards. Look at her wrists – they are cocked back. If you don’t do this, it is impossible to get the elbows into the correct starting position. The bar sits high up, near the throat, leading to a faintly throttled feeling. Adds to the joy of this exercise. An alternative arm position is crossed, with palms down and elbows up, again holding the bar high up the delts. Much more comfortable, but it requires less strength from the upper back. And since we all tend to be rather weak in our upper back, this is why Poliquin stresses the palm up, elbows forward position.
- Because of the demands on the upper back, slightly lower reps are recommended – 8 – 10 max.
- Form may be helped by the following thought: think of the thighs like turning sticks (I’m not being rude about the size of your thighs. Its just a metaphor). As one end goes down, the other end goes up. So as the squat is initiated, the bottom goes down and the knees go up. Keeping the knees over the ankles and not going lower than parallel to the floor is total bollocks. Aimed at keeping knee surgeons in BMWs. However, at the bottom point, don’t quite bottom out, – the lowest point is not there for a rest – but keep a little tension in the quads to maintain knee support.
- As a final note: if we only do back squats, as the weight increases, it is only too easy to tip forwards more during the ascent. This negates the weight increase by putting more of the load into the back. If you attempt the front squat and find the weight depressingly low, well we cannot lift as much weight with the front squat, as with the hack squat, because so much of the strength is coming from the quads only.