As a competitive power-lifter, back squats (or just squats) are by far the most important squat variation. However I am also a massive fan of the often overlooked front squats.

Here’s a recent 200kg front squat triple from my training. Currently my all time front squat personal best is 220kg which I’m hoping to increase to 240-250kg by the end of this training cycle.

Why you should train the front squat

1. Learn better technique

The most common issue I see when people back squat is they perform a ‘squat morning’ where their hips shoot up out of the hole resulting in an inefficient technique and excessive loading of the lower back.

Doing so with a front squat will result in the bar falling off your shoulders so in order to compete reps, you are forced to keep your body better braced and your torso more upright. If you do enough front squats, hopefully you will see the benefits carry over to your back squat.

2. More quad gains

In short, placing the barbell on the front of your shoulders recruits more quadriceps involvement, while placing the barbell on your back requires more glute and hamstring activation.

While both types of squats work a variety of muscles, if your quads are lacking in size or strength then the front squat is a great compound exercise to specifically target them while simultaneously working other muscles.

Compare this to say the leg extension which is great for training quads but does so in isolation. The front squat, however, offers a better ‘bang for your buck’ option for working those quads.

3. More back gains

Placing the bar on the front of your shoulders requires upper back strength in order to keep your chest up and prevent thoracic curvature during front squats.

While there are many great upper back exercises, getting bonus upper back gains while also training legs is just one of the big benefits to performing front squats.

4. More core gains

Similar to the above, when the bar is placed on your front delts it requires much more abdominal bracing and stability to keep the torso upright and rigid during front squat reps.

Essentially, your abdominal section is forced to activate during front squats in order to prevent your chest caving due to the weight stacked on your shoulders. Getting an ab workout while you squat? Front squats can help with that!

5. It’s safer

If you’re able to perform front squats with bumper plates then I consider front squats to be much safer than back squats. The reason for this is when people fail front squats, the bar usually just falls forward from their shoulders and lands in front of them without injury.

On the other hand, if you fail a back squat then you’ll have two options – either dump the bar off your back if you’re quick enough otherwise you’re likely going to fall forwards and either be caught by rack safety bars or be pinned under the barbell on the floor.

Here’s a great front squat workout plan

Unsure how to incorporate front squats into your training? Consider this four sessions per week training split.

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4
Front squat 3 x 5 Dead-lift 3 x 5 Back squat 3 x 5 Dumbbell bench press 3 x 10
Front squat 3 x 10 Stiff leg dead-lift 3 x 10 Paused back squat 3 x 5 Incline dumbbell bench press 3 x 10
Seated cable row 3 x 10 Lat pull-down 3 x 10 Barbell row 3 x 10 Single arm dumbbell row 3 x 10
Leg extension 3 x 10 Hammy curls 3 x 10 Dumbbell triceps extensions 3 x 10 Dumbbell bicep curls 3 x 10

For further information

Have any more questions about the front squat? Comment them below and we’ll answer.

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Dave Napper

Dave Napper

Dave Napper is qualified Nutritionist (BHSc Nut Med) and a competitive, drug-free strongman and powerlifter who competes with Powerlifting Australia. His best competition lifts are 300kg squat, 167.5kg bench press and 331kg deadlift and in 2015 he represented Australia at the IPF world championships in Finland.

Dave owns & operates his own gym, Brisbane North Barbell, which specialises in powerlifting & strongman training and offers online programming & coaching.

View Dave's complete profile on his Bulk Nutrients Ambassador page.

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