The front squat is a great exercise for athletes and every intermediate to advanced lifter.
Its an exercise with many advantages. The three main ones are:
1. More muscle recruited - the front squat is more of a full body exercise because the weight lies on the shoulders in front of the neck. Thus the muscles in the trunk must stabilize the upper body and the upper back must hold the weight in position while the legs are moving.
2. More neural – the Front Squat is the more advanced and neural exercise compared to the Back Squat. There are more muscles recruited and the exercise as a whole is more stressful for the body and the central nervous system as the upper body is involved to a greater degree.
3. More mobility needed - the Front Squat is a better indicator of injury risk and performance, as there are less compensation patterns and more muscular balance and mobility, especially in the shoulder and ankle, that are necessary to perform this exercise.
As mentioned, the upper back has to do a lot of work in the front squat and is the limiting factor in most when it comes to the proper execution. Therefore, the front squat and its variations is one of four exercise groups where I don't do more than 6 repetitions.
As maintaining proper position during the decent and ascending is the most limiting factor in most starting out on front squats. Next to centering the upper body training around strengthening the upper back I like to focus on slow eccentrics and pauses at the bottom to improve control and positioning while learning and improving front squat technique and poundages.
All the Best incorporating Front Squats in your training!
For more info on squats get a copy of the YPSI Handbook “Improve your Squat” here
Picture: Olympic Gold Medalist and 7time World Champion Yurik Vardanian in the Front Squat Position.