Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mike Robertson - Everything You Need to Know to Do Front Squats

The traditional squat that most people do - from bodybuilders to weekend athletes - is the back squat, with either high bar position (bodybuilder style) or a low bar position (power lifter style) and every possible stance from very narrow to very wide.

Fewer people do front squats, especially guys (and gals) who are concerned about looking like they are lifting heavy weights. When you first do front squats, you may be working with half of the weight you use for a back squat - it's humbling. It also blasts your quads in a way back squats can't. And for some of us, seemingly taller guys, it's easier to go ass to floor on a front squat than a back squat (I could be wrong about this and it might just be me).

In the post below, Mike Robertson of Robertson Training Systems, teaches you everything you need to know to do good front squats in a variety of forms, with different types of weights (bar, kettle bells, etc.), and with different types of grip - videos included.

Front Squat

October 25, 2013


Front squats are a different animal.

After years of dedicated powerlifting training and back squatting, I read an article by one of my strength training mentors, Brad Gillingham.

“Big Brad” is one of the strongest human beings on the face of the planet, and his 5×5 squat program had worked wonders for my back squat.

In this article he mentioned that he front squatted a lot in the off-season, so I figured I’d give it a shot as well.

And all I can say is, I got dominated!

I was squirrelly under the bar, my thighs were burning, and my core was crushed for three days straight as a result.

And needless to say, I loved the pain, and I’ve grown to love the lift.

The front squat is an amazing exercise, and one that’s well worth your time and attention to master. In this article, I will take you step-by-step through the process, to help you learn everything possible about the front squat.

Let’s start with the big benefits you get from the front squat.

Benefits of Front Squatting

There are numerous reasons you should learn to front squat. Here’s just a short list.



One of the biggest benefits you’ll receive from front squatting regularly is improving (or at least maintaining) your mobility through all the key joints: The ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and elbows.

Too often people assume that if they want to be mobile, they have to do extensive mobility or stretching routines day-in and day-out forever.

And this simply isn’t the case.

Instead, what it often requires is a block or period of time that’s dedicated to improving mobility, and then maintaining that mobility going forward.

Front squatting can help you build the mobility, and by regularly including them in your programming they will keep you mobile for years to come.

Core Strength

Another benefit to front squatting is improving core strength.

This is where a key distinction needs to be made; while back squats tend to put more stress on the posterior core such as the lower back/spinal erectors, front squats put more stress on the anterior core.

This area is typically very weak and underdeveloped, so front squatting can be a great tool to bring this up to snuff. And don’t worry, I’ll make sure to give you some resources later on if this is an issue.

Muscle Mass – Quads

Let’s be honest – quads get a bad rap, and if your goal is to get flat-out huge quads, I could think of worse ways to go about developing them.

The front squat is at the end of the squat/hinge spectrum. If you want big quads, training with an angled tibia and upright torso (like you do when front squatting) is a sure-fire way to look like Quadzilla come next Halloween.

Strength Gains

Front squats are an invaluable tool to get stronger, regardless of your ultimate end-goal.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a team sport athlete, a powerlifter or an Olympic lifter – getting stronger in the glutes, quads and anterior core is rarely a bad thing. When you combine that with the mobility you can develop as well, you have a first-class exercise you should be using routinely in your programming.

And while we’re talking about Olympic lifters….

Foundation for O-lifts

Last but not least, if you have any dreams or aspirations of Olympic lifting in the future, you need to learn how to front squat.

The front squat is the foundation for catching/receiving a clean. Failure to catch a big clean in the bottom position will force you to either power clean every rep of every set, or simply find a new sport to pursue.

As you can see, there are tons of benefits to front squatting.

Now that we’ve covered them, let’s get down to brass tax: How to front squat. 

Read the whole article.

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