As you know, when it comes to working out, leg day is the toughest training day of all. As you also know, real friends don’t let friends skip leg day, so if you want to ditch the chicken legs and build a set of wheels to be proud of, it’s time to stop training the disco muscles, and to start training your legs.
There’s nothing fancy about leg training, and there’s certainly nothing easy about it, but it gets the job done, and that’s the most important thing. There are many different exercises that can be done when training legs, yet there is only one that most people think of which is synonymous with leg training, and that is the squat.
Today, though, we’re looking at a different variation of this exercise, as we’re looking at the benefits of front squats. Front squats are a very impressive exercise, yet they’re often overlooked on leg day, and that’s such a shame. Here’s a look at the benefits of front squats.
Front squats vs back squats
As you know, arguably the most popular leg training exercise is the back squat, yet we’re looking at a different variation of that exercise today. Back squats are generally performed in a squat rack, with a barbell resting across your traps.
You then carefully un-rack the bar, walk back a few paces, squat down below parallel, bracing your core and keeping your head up, and you stand back up. You repeat this exercise for as many reps as you can do before you feel like puking. A front squat is performed with the barbell resting in front of you, across your sternum.
Most people cross their arms over one another with a barbell sitting level with the upper/middle chest and they perform squats that way. Front squats offer many different benefits to back squats, which we’ll be highlighting below.
16 fantastic front squat benefits for you to enjoy
Now here’s a look at several awesome front squat benefits for you to enjoy:
They’re easy to perfect – One of the hardest part about back squats is getting the technique right. Sure, on paper they sound easy, as you simply rest the barbell across your back, and squat down. The truth of the matter, though, is that a lot of people tend to rest the bar across the base of the neck which can be dangerous and can be painful. With front squats, getting the barbell placement correct is much easier, so you can go ahead and squat at your leisure.
Less painful than back squats – If you’re a huge powerlifter with enormous traps, then resting the barbell across your traps probably won’t be very painful or difficult. If you’re an average-sized person with normal traps, a heavy metal bar pressing down onto your upper-back can cause a decent amount of pain and discomfort.
With front squats though, the bar rests across your front and the weight is displaced differently. This means that it is far less painful so you can get on with your set, in peace.
It is something different to try – Even if you love doing squats on leg day, that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from trying something different every now and then. One of the best things about front squats is the fact that, because they’re so different, people often enjoy doing them as it breaks up the monotony of a regular leg day. Trying new things is how we broaden our horizons and discover new benefits, such as the front squat benefits which we’re looking at today.
Better posture – If you suffer with poor posture, like so many other people in the developed world tend to, one of the first things you need to consider is doing more front squats. Front squats are perfect for people that suffer with bad posture. Because so many of us spend several hours per day looking at our phones and sat working at a desk, poor posture issues are becoming more and more common.
A misaligned spine can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort, as well as leave you looking shorter than you actually are. Front squats are ideal because they help to realign the spine and promote good posture.
Mobility – When talking about front squat benefits, another awesome reason to do plenty of front squatting is the fact that the exercise is great for mobility. When you do front squats, because of the mechanics of the exercise, and the range of motion involved, front squats are great for people that are looking to become more balanced and mobile on their feet.
Great for the calves – Now, we could include this in the section talking about leg benefits in general (which we’ll be getting to a little later on) but we’re giving it its own little section here. When it comes to training your legs, one of the most stubborn parts of the body to grow is the calves.
Unless you are blessed with great calf genetics, it is very difficult to build up the calves, so you need all of the help you can get. To train the calves, you can probably think of calf raises and… well, that’s about it really. Well, another benefit of front squats is the fact that the exercise is so great for building up your calves. If you want to train your calves, without even realizing that you’re doing so, front squats are perfect.
Safer – Okay, any exercise involving free weights is going to be dangerous, and front squats are no exception. With that said, though, statistically, front squats are much safer than back squats.
This is because it is easier to control the weight with front squats, and it is easier to un-rack and re-rack the bar because it is in front of you, as opposed to behind you pressing down onto your traps. You could still injure yourself with this exercise, obviously, but it is a little safer than a back squat, so just consider that.
Stronger core – If you’re looking to enjoy some of the many different front squat benefits that we’re going to be looking at today, another one to consider is the fact that front squats are so great for the core. For building up your core, front squats are ideal because you are forced to brace and engage your core for the duration of the exercise.
Due to how the weight is displaced, standing up with the barbell requires you to generate power from your core, which in turn recruits your abs, and core stabilizer muscles. The more front squats that you perform, the stronger your core will become.
Increase pressing strength – Hold on! How can a leg exercise help you to press more weight via your upper body? Well, it depends on what type of pressing we’re talking but when it comes to standing pressing exercises such as log presses and military presses, front squats are the perfect accessory exercise.
You see, when you press weight above your head when standing, unless you’re Eddie Hall, Big Z, Thor Bjornsson, or Brian Shaw, you will likely have to generate power from your quads to drive the weight up into the air. Front squats are perfect because they work the quadriceps and engage more fast-twitch muscle fibres which are responsible for explosive speed, strength and power. If you’re looking to improve your overhead press, front squats are very useful.
Build muscular legs – Now we’ve got to one of the most obvious front squat benefits on our list today, and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. One of the best things about front squats is the fact that they help you to build a set of strong and muscular legs.
Front squats work your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and the calf muscles and they are therefore ideal for anybody looking to increase muscle mass in their legs. If you want a tried and tested exercise to begin your leg day with, front squats are ideal.
Great compound exercise – Another very useful benefit of front squats is the fact that they’re such a great compound exercise. A compound exercise is one which recruits multiple muscle groups at the same time. So, basically, by doing one exercise you are working several muscles at once.
For building muscle, the benefits here are pretty obvious. The more muscles you work, the more beneficial the exercise becomes. One exercise is the equivalent of doing several at once. As well as working different muscles in your legs, front squats also work your core muscles and even the lower back.
Better complimentary exercise for other lifts – It isn’t just your overhead pressing that will improve when you start doing more front squats. It turns out that the exercise will also help you in other areas too. Because front squats are so great for increasing explosive strength and power, they help you to perform other heavy compound lifts. Many people that front squat regularly find that their deadlifts improve drastically, as well as exercises such as bent over rows.
More strength and power – Front squats are a compound exercise that target several muscle groups simultaneously. Because of the mechanics of the exercise, you’ll find that you it targets more fast-twitch muscle fibres. Now, this is important because fast-twitch muscle fibres are responsible for generating explosive speed and power.
The more of these fibres you break down via training, the more explosive speed and strength you will generate, especially from your legs. Whether you want to squat more weight, leg press heavier loads, or just make your legs stronger in general, front squats are the perfect exercise.
Great for other sports – It isn’t just other weightlifting exercises that can benefit from you doing more front squats, either. Oh no. Front squats will also help you to perform better when taking part in other sports too. Having stronger legs means that you will be able for running faster.
Again, the fast-twitch muscle fibres we keep mentioning come into play here, because the more of these fibres you break down, the more your body will rebuild, and the more explosive speed you will generate. Sprinters for example, need to run very fast for short distances, so they benefit hugely. Basketball players and hurdlers will also benefit here, because front squats enable you to increase your vertical leap so you can jump higher.
Better depth – When squatting, depth is very important yet with back squats, because of how the weight is displaced, getting good depth is tricky as it can be painful – especially on the knees. Because of how you perform front squats, though, you’ll find that as the bar’s weight is displaced on the anterior deltoids, you can get a better depth on the exercise and so you can squat deeper. A deeper squat means that you will break down even more muscle fibres, which will equate to greater muscle hypertrophy.
Stronger joints – If you want a joint strengthening exercise, front squats are perfect. In terms of the many front squat benefits we’ll be looking at today, you cannot overlook the fact that front squats are so great for strengthening the joints. Because of this, they’re great for people that suffer with joint pain and/or discomfort, and they’re great for people that are at risk of joint issues such as arthritis, or inflammation.Now is probably a good time to wrap things up today. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the many different front squat benefits there are to be enjoyed via this exercise. If you have, be sure to do them the next time you’re due to train legs, and see what a difference they can make.