Many people shy away from front squats because they think it’s too difficult or simply too awkward. However, the placement of the bar in front of your body provides a number of benefits compared to regular squats, including reduced shearing and compressive forces on your vertebral discs, more emphasis on the rectus femoris and vastus lateralis heads of the quad, and improved core control and posture
The front squat demands another level of technique and control compared to other squatting variations. This exercise will expose any weaknesses in strength and mobility you may have in your shoulders, thoracic spine, quads, hips, and feet. This is why it’s so important that you attack it with perfect form.
Exposing your weaknesses may sound like a bad thing, but discovering and correcting these faults early on will help prevent disastrous issues building up over time like:
- Vertebral Disc Degeneration
- Chronic Back Pain
- Knee Pain and Injury
- Ankle Pain and Injury
- A Fast & Furious Movie Winning an Oscar
- Inguinal and Abdominal Herniation
Ok, so maybe performing front squats won’t prevent exactly all of those things, but we can still hope.
3 Common Problems with Front Squats and 3 Ways to Fix Them
1) Low Elbows When Racking the Bar
This fault means your arms and the muscles in your back aren’t in a good position to support the bar and it will pull your upper body forward rounding your spine.
Solution: Take a wider grip on the bar. This will help create tension in your upper back as you hold the bar and maintain a nice high elbow position. This will also help you maintain good extension in your thoracic spine and prevent rounding at the back.
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2) Dropping Your Chest as You Squat
Failing to keep your chest up as you squat causes you to lose balance in the bottom position and places tons (if you’re silly enough to squat tons) of pressure on your back.
Solution: This can be caused by either low elbows, poor thoracic mobility or simply looking downwards. To fix this fault you’ll need to address these issues by using the correct high elbow rack position mentioned in the last step, working on mobility drills for your upper back and keeping your head up and your chin tucked in.
3) Knees Collapse
If your knees are moving towards each other as you squat, you’re not only failing to efficiently recruit your quads in the lift, you’re also causing some serious stress on the ligaments in your knees and ankles.
Solution: Keep your toes pointed forward, or slightly out, and concentrate on rotating your knees in an outward direction. Squeeze your glutes to set the pelvis in a good position and as you squat, drive your knees out to the side to create stability and torque in your hip socket and lower limbs.