Saturday, December 21, 2013
5 Reasons You Should be Front Squatting
Written by Bryan Miller
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. Just like you wouldn’t dare miss out on your granny’s Christmas cookies (gluten free right?).
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.
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. 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 is a more 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. If you’ve ever gotten bruises on your sternum or collarbones, then this could be a weakness in the upper back from dropping elbows when cleaning or going overhead.