The front squat is often a misunderstood exercise and is likely to be left out of a training program because people can’t lift as much weight as they do with the back squat.
Here are 5 reasons why you should change up your squat routine and use the front squat.
Front squats target your quadriceps more than the back squat
The front squat is one of the key exercises I give to break through a training plateau with someone who has been spending way too much time performing the back squat. A back squat puts a higher emphasis on your glutes, hamstrings and lower back.
This can be seen in the quad development of high level Olympic weightlifters. The front squat is a key movement during the clean & jerk, so after years of training they develop much more athletic quadriceps.
More emphasis on the upper back
Front squats require a more upright posture, minimizing flexion in the lumbar spine and increasing core stabilization. The forces on your spine are made far lower by this upright position, without negatively impacting on the muscle recruitment. They also develop your back as you need a ton of back strength to support a high weight across your neck and shoulders.
Easier on your knees
Because you have to keep an upright position to perform the front squat properly, the sheer forces on the knees are far lower without negatively impacting on the muscle recruitment.
Improves your flexibility
To front squat properly you need to have good flexibility, especially if you are using the clean grip (see below). You will need good flexibility in many joint from the ankles through to the wrists. An athlete’s mobility can determine which lift is better suited to him or her.
The positive: it forces you to improve your mobility and flexibility, which can help to prevent injury in the long term.
The negative: you won’t be able to lift as heavy at the start, which may delay strength gains.
Front squats can carry over to Olympic lifting
The biggest difference between front squats and back squats is its transfer to Olympic lifting. Front squats have a high transfer into the clean & jerk and is often used as a regression exercise to improve people’s form when Olympic lifting. If your’ cleans have plateaued, then try adding front squats into your next training cycle.
For exercise demonstrations, check out our app (click the picture below) to view videos, pictures and exercise cues for over 250 exercises, including the front squat and various alternative exercises.
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