You should know by now that the squat is the king of all exercises; along the same line, some might argue that the front squat is the king of the squats. I’ll leave that up to you all to debate, but here are five reasons you should never miss a front squat day.
A common problem we see with athletes is that their back is rounded when coming up from a front squat. No one wants to look like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 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. Too bad nobody showed Quasimodo how to front squat.
How to improve thoracic mobility:
Practicing the front squat will help develop great flexibility! 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.
The very nature of the front squat requires the load to be place on the front of the body, resting on the shoulders (don’t choke yourself, but close) 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.
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.Heavier front squats will help develop impressive core strength. Put simply your core is the base for almost all the functional movements you will ever perform. It allows you to:
- Transfer and control force throughout your body
- Protect your spine
- Support your other limbs
The collection of muscles that make up the trunk of your body help to control and transfer force that you create into the movements you want to perform. From running, throwing, pushing, or hitting a new deadlift PR, core stability and strength is vital for enabling you to complete a huge array of activities.
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 tends to be more of a 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.
5. For the CrossFit Athlete
The front squat is very useful for the CrossFit athlete of any ability. 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. To be a good CrossFit athlete you need to be a decent Olympic lifter. If you have a poor front squat, then these lifts will suffer. Front squats are a staple ingredient for all top Weightlifters, so make them a big part of your training as well.