Front squats are probably among the strength training exercises that beginners love to hate for their own reasons, such as the difficulty of staying upright during the ascent. But just because these exercises are challenging doesn’t mean that you can skip them!
As veteran bodybuilders will attest, front squats have plenty of benefits that beginners shouldn’t overlook despite the challenge. You will strengthen your core, increase your range of motion, and improve your balance, all of which are crucial in other cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
Your job then is to find ways to improve your form and technique when performing front squats. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Get the Right Hand Position
You have to find the right grip for performing barbell front squats and your choice will largely depend on what feels most comfortable. You can start with a clean grip, a position where the bar only rests on all your fingertips. You may not feel maximum control but this isn’t so since you can actually do a hands-free version – just extend your arms in front – and the bar won’t fall.
But if you feel uncomfortable with the clean grip, you can unhook one or two of your fingers under the bar. Your wrist discomfort should be gone and you should be able to keep your upper arms in a parallel position to the floor.
Again, if this positions still isn’t comfortable, you can also hook your thumbs under the bar. You should also move your hands inside your relaxed shoulders for better control over the bar.
But when these two revised versions fail, you can use a pair of lifting straps. You will have a feeling of greater control by threading the straps around the bar. You should grip the straps as close to the bar as possible while still making allowances for your maximum mobility during the front squat.
Tip: Ask your personal trainer at Jetts Gym for tips on proper starting form for the front squat. You can skip on the lifting straps in your next sessions.
Get Your Elbows Right, Too
You can perform a front squat better when you keep your upper arms parallel to the floor, which means your elbows are in a high position. This position will also prevent rounding on your back (i.e., the taco effect) while also keeping your torso upright.
A few tips in this regard:
- Take a deep breath and hold it.
- Brace your abs as hard as you can.
- Descend as low as you can without losing stability (i.e. control) during the movement.
Then, stand up with controlled movements so that you can finish strong. Be sure to exhale, too, about halfway during your ascent out of the hole. You can even imagine yourself as a marionette being pulled up by a puppeteer, if it helps your ascent.