Normally I keep things simple and easily understandable for our client here at the clinic... Today will be no different =)
From an anatomical standpoint arguabley nearly every muscle plays a role in the front squat, but for simplicity stake we’ll leave it at these: the quadriceps, gluteus maximus, adductor magnus, soleus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, erector spinane, anterior/lateral deltoids, supraspinatus, rhomboids, upper/middle/lower traps, levator scapulae, serratus anterior, rectus abdominus, and obliques are all needed to stabilize the load and complete the lift. Muscles are an integrated system that must work together to produce efficient movement, few exercises work as many of them together as front squats.
Front squatting recruits the muscles of the upper back and forces thoracic extension in order to hold the bar on the shoulders; therefore, it can help prevent kyphosis in the thoracic spine if elbows are kept as high as possible throughout the movement.
Practicing the front squat will help develop flexibility, especially in the hips! What’s not to love about a lift that allows you to get strong while getting supple? If you haven’t front squatted before, you might even identify some tight areas while trying it for the first time. While in the bottom position of the front squat, the ankles, shoulders, wrists and hips will be pushed to their mobility limits, which is not always the case with a back squat as lifters will often cut the squat short.
Starting first with Goblet Squats, Rear Elevated Split Squats, Along with Band Resisted Clamshells could be the difference maker between a lift and a PR lift.
The very nature of the front squat requires the load to be place on the front of the body, resting on the shoulders; any forward torso lean and the bar will fall to the floor. This upright torso places less of a shear force on the spine and therefore makes it a better option for those with back issues. Not to be absent minded about the abdominals, you need to stay as tight as possible.
4. Measure of Strength
You could argue that the front squat is a better measure of strength than a back squat because you cannot “cheat” a front squat by turning it into a good morning (different ball game). Many people will find that when tested, the ratio between their front squat and back squat are off; for a balanced athlete, that ratio should be around 85%. The front squat recruits more quadriceps and the back squat is a more posterior dominant movement; if your front squat is below 85% of your back squat then you probably need more front squats (and quads) in your life.
Working front squats into your routine can efficiently increase your strength, but adding in similar exercises while keeping the load in the front of the body can do wonders for you as well.
5. For Our Athletes (Weekend Warriors Included)
Think of all the movements that require the bar on the shoulders; the stronger that position is, the easier many exercises become. Think power cleans, cleans, push press, push jerk, split jerk, etc. If you’ve ever gotten bruises on your sternum or collarbones, then this could be a weakness in the upper back from dropping elbows when cleaning or going overhead.
Squats mimic the biomechanical demands of athletic endeavors like the powerful hip extension needed for sprinting, jumping, tackling, and skating. Moreover, the abs braced, neutral position is vital for athletes to be maximally efficient and avoid “dumping” during movement.
Fitness can be relative and subjective depending on the individual, if you are unsure if you should include this exercise in your routine contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.