Front squats tend to be neglected from most people’s training programs since they require setting aside ego as you won’t be able to go as heavy as with a standard barbell back squat and because it can be quite difficult to master the form. However, if you’re prepared to spend some time working on flexibility and can deal with the awkwardness of the bar positioning, then the front squat comes with a whole load of benefits which make it a valuable addition to any training program…
– The front positioning of the bar places huge emphasis on the quadriceps muscles. If strong, shapely quads are on your wish list: front squat!
– Your core muscles will be pushed to their limits with a front squat as they are heavily recruited to hold the body upright throughout the movement. If you find you’re leaning forwards during a back squat it may be because you lack balance and core strength; the front squat will help remedy both of these.
– Back squats are often associated with back pain. This is partly down to the fact that having the bar on your back places huge compression on the spine, but also because the movement can allow for bad form: when the weight becomes too heavy you will see lifters leaning forwards and using their backs to push back up, rather than the legs, glutes and core. Holding the bar in front of the body takes the pressure off the spine and puts the emphasis on the quads and core, whilst also forcing you to stay upright, since any forward lean would result in you falling over. The result is less flexion of the spine, less pressure on the lower back and less opportunity for bad form making front squats a safer exercise for your back.
Front squats will require time to perfect but the effect they can have on your overall strength, health, body composition and balance is more than worth it!