Leg Exercises

Upgrade Your Front Squat

If you’re front squatting, then you’re on your way to bigger quads. Here are five quick strategies to maximize your time under the bar.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES
Upgrade Your Front Squat

The front squat is probably one of the least comfortable exercises known to man or beast. Whether you’re doing it in the standard “rack” position or with your arms crossed, the bar is still more or less pressed against your throat. And impaired respiration is probably the last thing that you want when you’re going glutes-to-calves in the squat rack. But pain is temporary…quads are forever. (As long as you keep squatting)

When it comes to the front squat, there are a few things that you can and should consider to make it more effective. Apply these five principles to your front squatting practices and watch your quads – and pound totals – soar through the roof.

1. No High Reps

The rhomboids will tire out isometrically supporting a front squat position long before the thighs. Keep as many sets as possible to six reps and fewer.

2. Hit Heavy Abdominal Work 

Front squats require strong abdominal muscles. The Tony Little Ab Isolator won’t suffice (No offense, Tony.). Incorporate weighted abdominal movements like suitcase deadlifts, land mines and standing weighted crunches in order to build a rock-solid support structure.

3. Elbows High

Once the bar is in the rack position, focus on keeping the elbows as high as possible so upper arms are parallel to the floor. Roll the bar onto your fingertips; don’t grip with your hands. The bar should be touching your throat in the rack position, think strength building, not comfort.

4. Drive Your ‘Bows 

Coming out of the hole, drive your elbows up as you simultaneously drive up the hips up and forward, otherwise you will lose the weight. Remember, you can’t cheat up the front squat.

5. Accessorize

Accessory work for supporting muscle groups should include exercises for the upper back so you can effectively support the weight. Exercises like rows, pull-ups, face pulls, and scapular retractions will help you maintain a proper rack position throughout each rep.

Josh Bryant, MFS, CSCS, PES, is the owner of JoshStrength.com and co-author (with Adam benShea) of the Amazon No. 1 seller Jailhouse Strong. He is a strength coach at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and holds 12 world records in powerlifting. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website at www.joshstrength.com.