Front Squat – What You Need to Know

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If you’re looking to strengthen the lower body, front squat workouts are the perfect exercise. Front squats also benefit many muscles in the arms and shoulders. It’s a move that’s been around since the 1950s, so it’s a tried and tested Olympic lift. Should you hear it referred to as the “sissy” squat, don’t let the casual meaning of this put you off.


This story is something to do with the Greek god Sisyphus and doesn’t relate to any weakness in the move. Equally, if you hear that squats are bad for the knees, this is incorrect too. If you don’t execute the front squat correctly, then yes, the knees, lower spine, and neck are prone to injury. There’s a simple answer to this problem, master your technique on performing the front squat safely. 

Popular Front Squat FAQs: 

What Muscles Does Front Squat Work?

The front squat workout will exercise the quads (front thighs) and upper back the most. It will also challenge the glutes (butt), erectors (side of the spine), abs (chest), and shoulders. As you carry out the movement, your spine, hips and knees, and ankles will all be extended.

How Much Should I Be Able To Front Squat?

The more accomplished your technique, the heavier the load you can squat. Beginners should start with around 40% of their body weight. You can increase the load until it equals your body weight, but don’t rush this phase.

Experienced male athletes can pump up the load until they reach double their bodyweight. Experienced female athletes should aim for around one and a half times their body weight. 

How Often Can I Front Squat?

If you’re looking to increase strength, you’ll need to train with more intensity. Include front squats into your workout around 2-3 times a week. It’s vital to rest the muscles with days off between sessions. If you’re bulking out the muscles, then the load should be heavier. Only do 1-2 sessions a week, ensuring you have at least 2-days rest between sessions.

How to Front Squat

To start with, the bar should be on the rack and level with your shoulders.

Step 1

Move closer to the bar so it touches the front collarbone. Stand with the bar parallel to the middle of your feet. 

Step 2

Straighten out your arms in front of you and bend them upwards as you bring your hands back down towards your head. 

Step 3

Grip the bar with palm upwards, so it balances on your fingers. At all times, keep your eyes focused in front of you and make sure you have a straight back as you stand upright. 

Step 4

Lift the bar, balancing it on your fingers. Take a step backward with both feet. Feet should be shoulder-width apart. The main weight of the bar should now be across the front of your shoulders. Keeping elbows high and in front, take a deep breath. Drop your hips down to situate them between your feet, if you can. The barbell remains resting on the front of your shoulders as you perform the entire front squat.

Step 5

Stand upright, keeping your back straight as you ascend out of the squat. Take a step towards the bar with both feet, and rack it. You have now done 1 rep.

There are various ways you can grip the bar:

  • Partial grip, using 2-3 fingers in an underhand grip.
  • Full grip, using all 4 fingers in an underhand grip. 
  • Using a holding strap.
  • The Cross Grip, cross your arms over as you grip the bar with an overhand grip.
  • The Zombie squat which doesn’t use your hands. Keep your arms outstretched and balance the bar on your shoulders as you perform the front squat

Squat Variations

There are many variations to the squat, such as, 

Front squat vs back squat

How you hold the bar when exercising influences which muscles you work out. The back squat is fundamentally similar to the front squat but it also targets a different range of muscles in your body. If you’re a powerlifter, then the back squat is ideal.

Resting the bar on the back of your shoulders means that you can lift more weight. The front squat isn’t about increasing the load, Whereas that back squat allows you to do this. Have a look at the targeted muscles in front and back squats.

Front squat v goblet squat

This is where dumbbells and kettlebells are useful. As you squat, you will hold only a single dumbbell in both hands in the center of your chest. It’s a good squat for keeping fit. It’s also useful for practicing the right technique of squatting before you move on to the barbell. Anything that helps you improve technique is worth spending time and effort on.

Front squat v squat

The position of the squat is a very natural alignment for the human body. It gets harder as we get older, due to our aging skeletal frame. You don’t need to lift weights to do the squat. If you incorporated this move into your daily routine from a young age, you’ll find yourself more flexible as you age.

The lower you can squat, the more muscles, tendons, and bones you will be flexing and improving. You’ll become a well-oiled machine. You’ll also find that you’re able to do many more movements than if you hadn’t practiced the squat in your daily exercise.
A GHD machine complements the front squats in the development of glutes and hamstrings. Stretching your body to its limits is a great way to keep yourself supple.

Try a stretching machine as another way to improve your overall strength and body movement.


By including squats into your exercise routine, you’ll increase your strength and power significantly. You’re not only limited to performing the front squat with barbells. You can also do dumbbell front squats and kettlebell front squats.

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