Front Squat – How To Use Them In Your Workouts


Interested in grabbing the attention of someone you’ve had your eye on? Don’t spend all of your time at the bench press or curling weight. This is why you should consider front squats… 

A strong lower body can turn heads just as quickly.

A firm, strong butt can grab attention but it also improves just about everything you do during the rest of the day, whether it is for sports or just work at the office.

Sure, most people consider the money lifts to be revolving around the chest.

However, you don’t want to be that guy walking around the gym with a ripped chest and stick legs. For the fully sculpted physique, look towards leg lifts such as the front squat.

Different Squat Types

Despite having similar movements, there are several different kinds of squats you should consider.

Each squat works your legs in slightly different ways. The first variant is the back squat. This is easily the most popular squat(unlike other less known ones like thezercher squat). With it, a barbell is positioned onto your shoulder as you squat down. This helps keep most of the weight directly over your center axis. An extension of the back squat is the sumo squat.

This is done in a similar manner as the back squat, only the legs are wider than shoulder length (so when you lower yourself down you are in a “sumo” pose).

During this lift much of the stretch goes into the inner thighs. Another version of the back squat is the box squat. This is where there is a box or lower bench for you to squat onto. It does prevent you from going too low (which can cause the legs to buckle), but it also completely stops your momentum. This means you must push up and create additional thrust to move back up.

The hack squat is performed again with a barbell, only instead of being on the shoulders, it is held directly behind your torso where your arms rest (which typically is towards the upper thigh in the rear). Also known as the rear deadlift, this became a popular lift in Germany and other European nations in the early 1900s (although it has since subsided in popularity today).

There are another dozen different kinds of squat variations, ranging from lunge squats to goblet squats and squats performed only with your bodyweight or a medicine ball. Realistically you could perform an entire lower body workout using just squat variations and experience a completely satisfying routine.

The front squat, however, is still one of the most popular and most beneficial squats to utilize.

What is the Front Squat?

There are a few variations available for performing the front squat, depending on the available equipment you have and what is comfortable.

The original method for performing a front squat is essentially the opposite of the back squat. Instead of having a barbell on your shoulders, the barbell is held across your clavicle and deltoids. In order to secure the barbell, you will either utilize a clean grip, or you may utilize what is known as a “California” pose, which is where your arms are crossed and elevated. This helps secure the bar while also giving a bit of leverage.

The You may want to experiment with the different grips in order to find which one is more comfortable.

If you have never performed a front squat before the idea of having a large barbell over your chest may seem a bit odd. but once you have the posture down it is relatively straight forward.

With the barbell in position, you lower yourself, keeping your back straight. You may find it easier to find a fixed point on the wall in front of you and look at this as you squat down. This can help keep your back straight.

Posture is crucial in this kind of a lift.

You will want to lower yourself so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Anything lower and your knees might buckle. There is a variant to this though if you want to go lower. Going lower can be beneficial as it forces additional muscles to kick in when propelling you back up. However, if you choose to do this it is best to reduce the weight.

However, if you choose to do this it is best to reduce the weight. When squatting for your max, never go below the 90-degree bend. Once you hit the 90-degree bend, push yourself back up to the starting position.

That is a single rep.

Working Up to the Front Squat

Have you ever been in the gym and seen a really confident guy stroll up to a machine like he owns it, prep himself and psych himself up, only to completely trip over himself or have no clue what he was doing?

While good for that person for trying new things, you really don’t want to be that guy. Not only is it embarrassing but you could end up injuring yourself. Due to the finer variations of the front squat, there is another leg lift you may want to consider doing first, before making your way into the full-fledged world of the front squat. Yes, this will be a good squat challenge.

This is known as the goblet squat.

The goblet squat is similar to the front squat, only instead of using a barbell, you use a single, heavy dumbbell.

Ultimately, doing this squat first is designed to help ready your body for having a large amount of weight in front of your chest. With the goblet squat, you’ll hold a single dumbbell by one end of the weight and keep it close to your chest with the top of the weight right under your chin. Squat down and perform your set. This is a great way to introduce your body and the stabilizer muscles in your legs and core to what it is like with the weight here. If you’ve only performed a back squat, it does take a bit of adjustment.

Once you are accustomed to performing this squat, you should have no problem performing the front squat.

The goblet squat is also a good move to perform when you want to drop further down than a 90-degree bend in your legs as you won’t have as much weight in hand.

Errors to Watch Out For While Squatting

You may end up squatting more weight than any other lift you perform.

This means you need to be extra mindful of any kind of errors going on with your form. Even the smallest error in your form can lead to serious problems and injuries. If at all possible, have a spotter to assist you when performing the squats, especially when starting off.

This will help you identify problem areas to correct before you add on more weight and increase the chance of hurting yourself.

For starters, watch your elbows. Elbows dropping down is a common problem and can lead to tweaks in your back. With the weight in front of your chest, you may begin to tilt forward when lifting. This increases your chances of injuring your lower back or to simply tip over when lifting. You may not squat down low enough when performing the squat. It can be difficult to know exactly how far down you’re going without a spotter.

This is another reason why you should bring a spotter on when first starting in order to know how your lift is going. Lastly, watch your knees. If your knees are shifting or moving around it adjusts the pressure placed on your knees.

This may lead to injuring the ligaments in your knees. Doing so not only is painful but it can be a long recovery time to repair the area of your body.

How To Do Front Squats

With the form of your squat being so important, it is necessary to go over the proper steps for setting yourself up and for performing the front squat.

Begin by placing the bar on the rack. If you are using a Smith Machine this is not as big of an issue as the machine is holding the bar in place and it will prevent you from tilting. The best way to perform this exercise is with a free weight barbell. This forces your stabilizers to react to the lift and it improves your balance.

With the bar in place, position yourself under the bar and take hold of it with a closed, overhand grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width. With your hands in position, place the bar right on top of your deltoids and the collarbone. If this is your first set, use a light weight. You can always add more later. Figuring out proper balance is a must before graduating to heavier weight.

Take your thumb and pinky fingers off of the bar.

You want to have a controlled grip on the bar, but the thumb and pinky fingers may actually push the bar in one way or the other.

By releasing these fingers you’ll open up the grip and prevent swaying. Now that you are all set, lift up and remove the bar from the rack, then take a step backwards. If you are using the rack in the opposite way, move forward. It is usually recommended to know where the rack is, which is why you should use the rack the standard way. This also gives you a mirror to look into in order to watch your form.

As you squat down, remember to push your knees outward. If you keep your knees rigid and straight you’ll increase the chance of an injury as you are putting more strain on the knees than necessary.  Throughout the move, keep the elbows squeezed up and in. Also, make sure to breathe.

Do not hold your breath or anything like that. You always need to breathe as it helps keep circulation going.

Simple Front Squat Workout Routine

For the first set, aim for 10 reps. If you were unable to max out the 10 reps, use the same weight the second time through. If you were able to perform the 10 reps at the weight, increase the weight the next time through. This will be the weight you begin with on the next leg day.

Squat Muscles Muscles Worked

With the front squat, you are hitting nearly all of the major lower muscle groups.

So what muscles do squats work?

The first group is the gluteus maximus. Some might call it the gluteus medius and minimus, but in reality, it is the butt. It’s also why performing this lift is a must as it strengthens your butt. The next group is the quadriceps. Also known as the quad, this is basically the entire front of the leg. The quads are broken down into the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, the vastus intermedius and the vastus medialis.

The secondary muscles you work while performing the front lift are the stabilizer muscles.

First, there is the erector spine, which are muscles that help the back rotate. The transverse abdominal muscle is a layer of muscle that runs along the abdominal wall. It makes up a major part of your core. There is a series of gluteus medius and minimus abductors, plus the gastrocnemius muscle, which is part of the leg, and lastly the hamstring, which is a large tendon located right behind the knee (Inner Body, 2017).

Strengthening your lower body is important.

Their rest of your body depends on the lower portion. It also burns more calories during a workout and burns more calories post workout as it breaks down more muscle tissue and requires more energy to rebuild the torn tissue.


With several squat routines, you can put in an excellent lower body routine by simply switching up the different kinds of squats.

One of the most beneficial squats is the front squat. If you haven’t performed the front squat before it may be a bit tricky, but by prepping yourself for the squat you should have no problem with it. It will go a long way in strengthening the rest of your lower body.

-Terry Asher

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Terry Asher

Owner & Founder at Gym Junkies LLC
After changing his best friend’s life by helping him lose over 70lbs, dropping him down to an amazing 7% body fat, Terry was inspired to be a full-time internet trainer knowing he could do the same for many more. In 2010, Terry published his own diet and fitness e-book that can be purchased on this website. Let Terry help you change your body for the better!
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