So in closing out Part 4 Of High Impact Strength Movements today’s strength lift is one that I’ve more recently started to include back into my own program on a more regular basis. I’ve got to admit that even for me back squats and deadlifts have been at the center of the big strength lifts, but lately it’s been front squats and I now even prefer front squats to back squats when selecting a strong lift for both myself and my students. Why you ask? Well just keep on reading my young Jedi and I’ll be glad to clear all of this up.
Why The Front Squat?
So the big question that I’ve been getting from folks is Brandon “Why do you prefer the front squat?” Well in short there are a number of reasons, but the quick answer is that from an athletic standpoint I believe it’s more practical, and the fact is that it can simply give the trainee more BANG for his or her strength training buck.
It’s a hell of a lift with many benefits and to me the lift just simply offers more that would be fitting for the purpose of athleticism. Front squats and athleticism go together like Batman and Robin, James Bond and his Aston Martin, Cereal and Milk, or Kim Kardashian and Talent. Ok, maybe not so much the last one, but you get my point.
Other reasons I prefer the front squat is because by loading the weight in the front your support base is changed versus loading the bar on your back for a back squat. The weight is front loaded so it forces the lifter to sit the hips back while really opening up the chest and shoulders to maintain the bar at the front rack position. This stabilizing quality in turn creates a tremendous amount of core stability and I can tell you personally that by doing this it drastically enhanced my ability to perform more advanced push ups and presses with much greater ease.
There is just something mechanically advantageous with front loading the bar for the front squat and how our bodies respond to the stress. It also clearly forces the lifter to create a great deal of intrathoracic pressure in order to stabilize the load while moving it throughout the lift. If there is any hint of instability I can guarantee you that you will lose the weight from the rack and it will go crashing down to the floor. This lift forces continuous effort and awareness from the lifter.
Now having said this I also prefer the front squat to be performed with a front rack grip support either raw, or with the help of straps as I’m demonstrating here below.
I prefer the front rack position to crossing the arms because of the emphasis on forcing the external rotation of the shoulders and opening up the shoulder girdle during the execution of the entire lift. Here in the photo below I’m demonstrating the lesser preferred example of crossing the arms to hold the bar in the front squat position.
With both of these photos you have a clear visual as to what I’m talking about in terms of how you should hold the bar in the front squat position. In addition to that you probably also noticed the big ‘ole sweat spot on my shirt in these photos. You see that’s proof of the hell I put myself through to get this post done for you! 😉
Ok, I just did this at the end of pulling some seriously heavy weight off of the floor to the point I lost count of the reps. Now it’s your turn to go HULK Smash on your front squats!
No worries I didn’t just take photos I got some video of the front squat as well. Take notice at how I’m constantly forcing to keep my elbows pushed up and that this occurs to a greater degree in my ascent up from the bottom of the squat movement.
You can see the difference in my support base with the bar loaded in the front compared to a more traditionally performed back squat position. Please excuse the grimacing facial expression I’m displaying during the lift. The weight wasn’t that heavy to me, but I was pushing through a bit of knee soreness due to a little bit of swelling that I tend to get a couple times a year in my right knee.
It’s an old ACL tear from many years ago that was repaired, but can slightly swell from time to time. Believe it or not after doing the front squats the swelling was significantly better too! As a matter of fact, it was almost completely gone.
You see front squats are great. The key is just making sure that you are set on stabilizing your body during the squat in the first place. Squatting takes consistent effort whether you are squatting for lifting heavy, or just for practicing the movement. Take the time and include front squats onto your list of High Impact Strength Movements. You won’t regret it. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend. Please drop a comment or two in the comment box below this article. I always appreciate your feedback!
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