For very long, the front squat has been known to be a variation of the back squat. Sadly enough, not many people get it right so they avoid it and throw it to the pile of the less liked lifts. This right here is a mistake since the front squat engages your quads to a larger extent while at the same time keeping your core squeezed and tight. In this article, I will share with you basic tips on how to do front squats based on scientific literature and also my anatomical understanding of the muscles involved. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
Adjusting the rack
To those who have attempted doing front squats with the bar too far up over your shoulders, you will agree with me that it was very tricky to unrack the bar and even trickier to return it so you have to spend so much energy when returning it up there, energy you would have otherwise spent on another set of squats.
Make sure that the bar is placed on top and not below your shoulders. This is exactly where you want to start with because as you unrack the bar, it is going to fall on your shoulder so all you have to do is get under it.
The barbell should sit right over your shoulders, elbows high and pointed forward, with your grip just outside the shoulders and the chin slightly up so that the barbell does not get to your Adams-apple. Take a few steps back from the rack and position your feet shoulder width apart or slightly greater than shoulder width apart with toes pointed slightly outwards, depending on how tall you are. I am a tall girl so my stances are usually slightly more than shoulder width apart since I feel more stable there.
It is very prudent to have and maintain a tight core when doing the front squat. If you do not squeeze it, your core is not activated which puts you at a higher risk of injury. If you have a load on your shoulders and go down with it without a squeezed core, your back tends to round. A round back when squatting is the wrong posture and so leaves you more susceptible to injury. If you have problems with keeping your abs squeezed, you can fix this by taking a deep breath and pushing it down to squeeze your abdominal muscles. I usually tell my clients to pull their chest down towards their belly button and focus on keeping the core as activated and as tight as possible.
The belt is common and very popular in the gym with heavy lifters and light lifters alike. However, most gym users do not know how to use this little piece of equipment correctly. With relaxed abdominal muscles, the belt should be tied against your abdominal muscles somewhat loose in such a way that there is space to put in your hand /fingers. After tightening, now squeeze your core until it becomes harder to put your hand/fingers back in there. But while the belt is very helpful in maintaining a tight core, I do not always recommend it to my clients except when going for maximum loads.
Knees caving in
A most common flaw that happens when performing heavy squats in general is that sometimes the knees tend to cave back in when standing up from the squat. It is therefore important to understand that you have to push your knees out and squeeze your core all the way up.
- Always keep your chin up. looking down is not recommended because apart from the bar resting on your Adams apple, its going to lower your elbows hence send the lift in front.
- Positioning of feet-talking about the toes, we said that they should be pointed out very slightly. And by very slightly, I mean very slightly. By opening your toes too wide, your knees are more likely to cave in and the ankles too. However, keeping your toes straight is not bad as long your mobility allows.
- If your knees consistently cave in when standing up from the squat, work a lighter load, get strong then eventually work up to that heavy weight when a little stronger.
- If you are unable to stand up because the load is too heavy, push the barbell forward and your body back. standing up with an incorrect posture is not going to make you any stronger.
- Do not rely on the belt so much. Try to work with a lower load without the belt and work your way up as you build your overall strength. Heavy squats all the time with little recovery can hurt your knees. Without adequate recovery, you can get knee pain. so follow a program which wont leave you with knee pains.
I hope you will find this article helpful! cheers!