The Front Squat: Muscle-Building Exercise with Variations and Common Mistakes

Updated: 19 hours ago


Front Squat

The Front Squat is one of the best exercises that you can do to build muscle. It is a compound exercise that involves multiple muscles in your body, and it can be performed with a variety of different variations. In this article, we will focus on how to properly perform the Front Squat, as well as the different variations and common mistakes people make when performing this exercise. Let's get started!


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What muscles does the front squat work?

The front squat is a compound exercise that works multiple muscles in your body. The primary muscle groups that are worked are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. However, other muscles such as the calves, back, and shoulders are also worked to a certain degree. The primary portion of the movement that works the quadriceps is the eccentric (lowering) phase, while the hamstrings and glutes are worked more during the concentric (lifting) phase.


The front squat and the standard back squat differ in how they work the muscles of the body. The back squat places more emphasis on the posterior chain muscles (glutes, hamstrings, and lower back), while the front squat emphasizes the quadriceps more. This is due to the position of the barbell during each exercise. In a front squat, the barbell is placed across the front of your shoulders, while in a back squat, the barbell is placed in the middle of your back. This difference in position changes the center of gravity and how the weight is distributed across your body, which alters which muscles are worked to a greater degree.


How to perform the front squat?

There are a few different ways that you can perform the front squat. The most common way is to use a shoulder-width grip and place the barbell across the front of your shoulders, with your palms facing down. Another variation is to use a clean grip, where your hands are placed inside of your shoulders and your palms are facing up. To avoid pain on the hands or wrists, many people use a cross-grip, where one hand is placed over the barbell and the other hand is placed under the barbell.


The first thing you will want to do is set up your squat rack or cage so that the barbell is at about shoulder level. Once the barbell is in position, approach it from the front and grab the barbell with your chosen grip. After you have a firm grip on the barbell, lift it off of the rack or cage and take a step back. You may need to adjust your feet so that they are shoulder-width apart and turned out slightly.


Once you are in position, bend at the knees and hips to lower your body down into a squatting position. Keep your chest up and spine straight as you lower yourself down. You will want to lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, or until your hips are lower than your knees. From this position, drive through your heels to raise your body back up to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.


Common Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes people make when performing the front squat is rounding their back. This can lead to lower back pain or injury. To avoid this, keep your chest up and spine straight throughout the entire movement. Another common mistake is not lowering your body down far enough. If you do not lower your body down far enough, you will not be able to fully work the muscles of your legs. To avoid this, make sure to lower your body down until your thighs are parallel to the ground or until your hips are lower than your knees. Lastly, people often use too much weight when performing the front squat. This can lead to bad form and increase the risk of injury. If you are using too much weight, lower the amount of weight you are using and focus on proper form.



Front Squat Variations

There are a few different variations of the front squat that you can perform to work different muscles or emphasize different parts of the movement.


Variation #1: Cross-Arm Front Squat

The cross-arm front squat is a variation of the front squat that places more emphasis on the muscles of the shoulders and upper back. To perform this variation, grab the barbell with your hands crossed in front of your body. You will then want to press the barbell up so that it is resting on your shoulders. From here, perform the front squat as normal.


Variation #2: Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is a variation of the front squat that places more emphasis on the muscles of the legs. To perform this variation, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell to your chest with both hands. You will then want to perform the front squat as normal.


Variation #3: Leg Press

The leg press is a variation of the front squat that places more emphasis on the muscles of the legs. To perform this variation, sit down on a leg press machine and place your feet on the footplate. From here, lower the weight down until your knees are at a 90-degree angle, and then press the weight back up.


Variation #4: Split Squat

The split squat is a variation of the front squat that places more emphasis on the muscles of the legs. To perform this variation, start in a split stance with one leg forward and one leg back. Lower your body down into a lunge position and then press back up to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.


Variation #5: Step-Up

The step-up is a variation of the front squat that places more emphasis on the muscles of the legs. To perform this variation, start by placing one foot on a box or bench. From here, drive through your heel to raise your body up onto the box or bench. Step down with your other foot and repeat on the other side.


Variation #6: Pistol Squat

The pistol squat is a variation of the front squat that places more emphasis on the muscles of the legs. To perform this variation, start by holding one leg out in front of your body with your other leg bent behind you. Lower your body down into a squatting position and then press back up to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.


Variation #7: Zercher Squat

The Zercher squat is a variation of the front squat that places more emphasis on the muscles of the legs. To perform this variation, start by holding the barbell in the crook of your elbows. From here, lower your body down into a squatting position and then press back up to the starting position.


Variation #8: Dumbbell Front Squat

The dumbbell front squat is a variation of the front squat that places more emphasis on the muscles of the legs. To perform this variation, start by holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. From here, lower your body down into a squatting position and then press back up to the starting position.


Variation #9: Landmine Squat

The landmine squat is a more emphasized leg muscles exercise version of the front squat. To get started, set up one end of a barbell in a landmine or corner. Hold the other end of the barbell at shoulder height and then descend into a squatting position while holding it at shoulder level.



Summary

The front squat is a great exercise for building muscle in the legs, hips, and glutes. There are many different variations of the front squat that you can perform to work different muscles or emphasize different parts of the movement. The most common mistakes people make when performing the front squat are not keeping their chest up, rounding their back, and letting their knees cave in. Remember to keep your chest up and back straight, and drive through your heels to get the most out of this exercise.


For a complete routine, check out our full-body training program to develop a strong body and aesthetic physique; you will benefit from one of our programs. We designed a program that gives you the tools to build muscle with an easy-to-follow routine that will fit any schedule. To find out more:


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