Think that the back squat is the best exercise on the planet? Well perhaps this will make you think again.
Now I’m sure you’ve probably heard this before, but the worst thing an athlete, or even someone who’s just looking to get into better shape, can do, is to avoid squatting… especially front squatting.
There’s no better total body exercise for improving your strength, speed, and size, period. Not only do squats burn more calories than any other complex movement, but they’ll work every muscle in your legs and help build a strong core.
So why front squats over back squats? Well, one problem with back squats is that they have a tendency to put too much strain on your lower back, especially when done incorrectly. An arched back and or forward lean can compromise your balance, and increase your likelihood of spraining a ligament or injuring a disk, which would suck. Simply put, the bar placement influences your center of gravity during the motion. With the weight on the back and a forward lean of the torso you have more back extension, and therefore more pressure on your lower back. With the weight on the front of the shoulders and the torso upright you have more hip extension and less pressure on your lower back.
A second benefit of front squats is that they increase your core strength even more than back squats. Now most of the time when you’re talking about increasing core strength you tend to think about crunches, hanging knee raises and planks. With front squats however, the load to the front of your body forces your abs and core to stay activated to stabilize your body throughout the movement. If your midsection isn’t activated and your torso isn’t erect during the movement. Do it once, and you’ll never do it again.
Lastly, the front squat imitates the catch position of the clean and the starting position in similar to that of the overhead press, push press and split jerk motions. Now, I know that performing the front squats using the clean grip is uncomfortable at first, but using this grip is strongly encouraged. Meatheads and bodybuilders utilize the cross-armed grip because it’s less stressful on the wrists. Be an athlete and get better by doing the front squat with a clean grip! You’ll have greater control over the bar and the lift is actually easier to complete if you keep your elbows up and the bar doesn’t roll of your shoulders. If the clean grip bothers your wrists, stretch and your wrists and triceps for 3-4 weeks and you’ll be fine.
Front Squat Setup and Motion
This is the biggest point to remember is this: if your set up sucks then your squats will suck! The set up determines the rest of your lift so if you don’t get it right prior to the start of the movement, you’ll never get it right. Below a quick rundown of key points to remember when you’re getting your front squat on.
To recover faster and increase your front squats, 1R would recommend the following supplements: