The front squat is one of the most underrated exercises. It is the king of the squats, so why are you avoiding it like the plague at the gym? If you conveniently miss squat day every time it shows up on the calendar, your coach is on to you. The key to a lean physique and powerful legs is, you guessed it, the front squat. You can’t avoid the front squat any longer. It is about time to confront the front squat and build the best body.
Here are a few secrets of the front squat.
Secret 1: Front squat is the best squat
Yes, I know that is up for debate, but many fitness professionals agree. The front squat allows you to focus more on your core and your quads. Instead of placing the bar on your back, the bar sits on your shoulders. When the bar is on the shoulders, the results are completely different. When the bar rests on the back, the squat focuses more on the glutes and your hamstrings.
The spine also takes the brunt of the pressure with a back squat. Pressure on the spine provokes the body to compensate. More back pressure causes rounding in the back. If you lose stability and round your back, you will experience back pain and injuries. The front squat is just safer.
The front squat is safer on the shoulders, which is a common concern for swimmers and overhead athletes.
Secret 2: Front squats improve your back squat
If everyone else is avoiding the front squat, and you are not, imagine how great your squats will be. You can improve your back squats by doing the front squats that others are avoiding.
Secret 3: Front squats bust the plateau
Leg plateaus are the worst. When you do the same thing over and over, you won’t improve. There are many reasons why you may be experiencing a workout plateau. One of the most common is boredom. Your body is bored, you are bored, and your workout is boring. When you do the same boring back squat, you aren’t challenging your body or your workout. When you add the front squat to your workout, you will break the leg plateau.
Secret 4: Front squats improve posture
If you are starting to look like your 80-year-old grandparent, you could use some front squats in your life. Your mother was right when she told you to sit up straight. My mother threatened me with a back brace for most of my life. Poor posture is unhealthy and it can cause injuries. Front squats are a good way to improve your posture.
The key to good posture and a healthy back is a strong core. Front squats demand a strong core. By placing the bar on your shoulders, you activate the upper back muscles. The result is thoracic spine extension, which is key to a stronger back and better posture.
Secret 5: Front squats improve flexibility
No, you won’t be doing the splits on the mat, but your body will move better. The front squat works your wrists, knees and ankles when you are in the bottom position. The back squat does not demand the same. You will experience tightness at first. As you perfect the squat, you will become more flexible.
Secret 6: Front squats are a good indicator of strength
The front squat does not forgive squat cheaters. You know who you are. You have to balance your body and engage your core fully to do a front squat. Bad form is common with a regular squat, but with a front squat, if the bar is wrong or your body is off, you lose the squat.
Secret 7: Crossface Grip Reduces Forearm and Elbow Stress
Many baseball players and overhead athletes, such as swimmers, pitchers and tennis players, prefer the crossface grip to eliminate stress and prevent injuries. When done properly, the grip protects the shoulders, wrists and elbows from unnecessary strain.
To do the crossface grip:
- Do a thumbs-up on both hands and cross your wrists when you are away from the bar.
- Approach the bar and put your thumbs into the bar.
- When you dive the bar, your thumbs will swivel with you. Keep your thumbs up front and bring your elbows up.
- Your elbows need to be on a plane when you hold the bar. The bar will not rest on your thumbs, but on safe shelf you created with your shoulders.
I bet you can find at least one reason why you need front squats, so stop hiding out. With the right coaching and advice, you can master the front squat. I challenge you to learn how to do front squats in the New Year.