I’ve been focusing my own training on my Olympic lifts – the clean and jerk, and the snatch. I love the feeling of speed and power you get when you throw a heavy barbell around!
A nice benefit is that they also help you build a fitter, leaner physique 🙂
One of the very first exercises I teach my clients is the barbell front squat.
Not only does it define and firm up wobbly thighs and butt, it works your core and upper back muscles as well.
For people who find back squats are tough (in a bad way) on their shoulders, backs and knees – the front squat is a great replacement.
Just note that front squats really work your quads (the muscles at the front of your legs) – now I happen to think that curves and shape to your legs makes one look fit and athletic and, from personal and clients’ experience, working your quads really helps with knee issues, but if you’re concerned about getting into the skinniest of skinny jeans, front squats may be not for you. Alternatively lift heavier with fewer reps and sets to minimise any quad growth.
Another thing to note. The front rack position – how you hold the barbell in front of you – can be a bit uncomfortable for starters. That’s until your body clocks how useful it is and starts using it to rest your arms at any opportunity 🙂
Adjust your grip width to get into the optimal position for you.
The ideal position is with the bar secured at the middle of your shoulders (mid delt), at your chest just below your collarbone, and a full grip on the bar.
The bar is supported entirely by your upper body – your hands just stabilise it, stop it wobbling.
This is a tough position to be in, so practice, practice and practice some more until it becomes second nature.
Final note – it took me ages to get my front squat positions perfected. Be patient when you do this and when you get it, you’re going to love it!
So here’s my guide to nailing your first front squat.
Practice the rack position.
Secure the rack position.
Keep your upper back as straight and upright as possible. Not going to mention engaging your core – it will happen automatically!
Breath in and sit your torso down between your thighs and knees. Go as deep as you can under full control. The Olympic ideal is to have hamstrings touch your calves.
With short sharp 1/2 exhale drive up through the middle of your foot. The knees should extend first, then the hips – basically push away the floor with your feet!
Repeat and enjoy the total badass feeling the Front Squat provides 🙂
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re really concerned about having shape to your quads, recommend you stick to singles, doubles or possibly triples in the front squat for 2 – 3 sets.
If you’re looking to get strong, then aim for 5 – 8 reps for 3 to 5 sets per session, once a week.