Front Squat Exercise Guide

The front squat is a compound exercise targeting the quadriceps, with secondary emphasis on the hamstrings, glutes, and core. Initiated with a barbell resting across the front shoulders, the movement involves descending into a squat with an upright torso, ensuring knees track over toes. Upon reaching thighs parallel to the ground, you push through the heels to stand. This exercise enhances lower body strength, flexibility, and balance. Maintaining proper form is vital for maximum benefits and injury prevention.

Target Muscle Group
Exercise Type
Strength, Balance and Stability, High-Intensity
Equipment Required
Force Type
Experience Level
Secondary Muscles
Hamstrings, Glutes, Core

Step by Step Guide

Setting the Barbell

Position yourself in front of a barbell rack, with the barbell at chest height. Duck under the bar so it rests on the front of your shoulders, with your elbows pointing straight ahead and parallel to the ground. This will form a shelf for the bar to sit on. Keep your hands just outside shoulder width, gripping the bar.

Beginning the Squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with toes slightly pointed outward. Engage your core, pull your shoulder blades back, and maintain an upright posture. Slowly descend by pushing your hips back and bending your knees, ensuring that your knees are tracking in line with your feet.

Completing the Movement

Lower yourself until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground, or as far as your flexibility allows. Then, press through your heels, engaging your glutes and quads to return to the standing position. Ensure your back remains straight and chest lifted throughout the movement. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Start with a light weight to master the form before adding additional weight.

Here are a Few Tips to Keep in Mind When Performing this Exercise.

  • Elbow Positioning: Ensure that your elbows are consistently pointing forward and remain parallel to the ground during the movement. This positioning helps to support the barbell on the "shelf" created by your front deltoids and keeps your chest upright, preventing you from leaning forward and compromising form.
  • Depth Matters: Aim to achieve a full range of motion by squatting down until your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly below. This ensures activation of the entire quadriceps group and promotes better joint mobility. However, only go as deep as your flexibility and comfort allow.
  • Keep Your Knees Aligned: As you lower and rise, make sure your knees are tracking in line with your toes and not caving inward. This alignment is crucial for knee health and proper activation of the leg muscles. Using a mirror can help you check and maintain proper form during the exercise.

Exercise Benefits

  • Enhanced Quadriceps Activation: The front squat places a greater emphasis on the quadriceps muscles compared to other squat variations. This makes it an excellent exercise for building and toning the front thigh muscles.
  • Improved Postural Strength: Due to the barbell's placement at the front, performing this exercise helps develop the strength of the erector spinae muscles in the back, leading to improved posture and spinal stability.
  • Increased Core Engagement: Keeping the torso upright during the front squat requires strong activation of the core muscles, particularly the rectus abdominis and obliques. This engagement helps strengthen and stabilize the core region.
  • Flexibility and Mobility: Regularly performing front squats can improve flexibility in the hips, ankles, and wrists. It also promotes better joint mobility, especially in the knee and hip joints.
  • Balanced Muscle Development: The front squat is a compound movement, meaning it activates multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This ensures a balanced development of the lower body, including the glutes, hamstrings, and calves, in addition to the quadriceps.