Ok, so I had one of my gym members confront me with the question of “Why do you make us do front squats?” I gave her the following answer, but on hindsight, I though I could have more eloquently stated it and likely made a more convincing explanation. After all, as a trainer, I should be able to explain clearly why I prescribe any movement.
The answer that I gave her is that most often, in your daily life, when you are lifting something heavy, it is some combo of a dead lift and a front squat. Example of helping a friend move, and picking up the couch. You rarely use the opportunity to load the couch onto the back of your shoulders, you typically carry it in front of you in some form. I went into the idea that you have to engage your core more, blah blah blah. She looked at me only mildly accepting my explanation and added but it bruises my collar bones. To which I responded, that makes the sexy black dress even sexier!
I wanted to take a few minutes to pull some more information on the value of doing front squats that I left out of the explanation to JWM.
- Flexibility – The front squat when performed properly builds more flexibility in the ankles, wrists, hips, and shoulders.
- Less compressive stress on the spine
- Less force on the knees
- EMG data on quads, erectors, and rectus abdominus are higher in a front squat vs. back squat
- If performed to full depth, significant EMG activity in the posterior (and we all want to look like J. Lo)
- Better translation to the acceleration required for the olympic lifts when combined with the back squat.
For me as a coach, I find a particular value in the front squat to teach the upright torso. The nature of the front squat forces the upright torso and provides kinesthetic feedback through the use of mean old Mr. Gravity at 9.8 m/s/s. Translation – if your torso goes forward, you will likely drop the bar. This ultimately translates into better lumbar positioning and allows the numbers on the back squat to improve.
you can learn more about the front squat from these resources: