The front squat has high transferability to movements found in Olympic weightlifting, functional fitness competitions and training, combat based sports, and manual labor. The wide stance squat is considered a hip-dominant movement where you’ll use more musculature of the glutes. The squat will use the knee, hip, and back extensor muscles. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. When your hips move back behind this line, and your knees move forward, you create additional stress on these joints. Joints will experience more or less stress the further they are in relation to the load, which requires your muscles to work harder. You can place more emphasis on your knee or hip extensors depending on where you are failing in the squat or notice the movement breaking down. Everyone will have a natural forward torso lean in the squat based on their individual leverages. I find most athletes respond better to pause squats to build quad strength, and doing low pin squats tend to beat athletes up a bit more. As you stand back up, the hips need to rise up and forward to come back in line with the line of force. Squats can be an effective exercise for your lower body. Front squats are often used for athletes because it helps build explosion. Often, many beginners will start with back squats (which are also beneficial) yet end up performing a squat that place high amounts of loafing on the hips and lower back. But, if you want even more quad activation then choose the high bar position. In order to get the most benefit from the pause squat, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing two things properly: 1. The bar load will come to a dead stop, and then you’ll push up and back into the bar to drive it off the pins to standing. Hi! Med Sci Sports Exercise. To set up the front squat, you’ll place the barbell on the front part of the shoulders. Unsurprisingly, this bottom position requires the most mobility in your knees, ankles, and wrists compared with other squat variations. Your erectors are the muscles that run along the outside of your spine. What To read next? To understand what muscles are involved in the wide stance squat I want to look at two studies. Even though this would be an effective compensation strategy to push through your sticking point, it would feel awkward because as you shift the load to the front part of your foot you might feel off balance. Doing variations on the squat can help you work other muscles, too. Incorporating more advanced time under tension training protocols can further the hypertrophic effects of front squat training. Therefore, the glute maximus serves an important function in the top range of the squat in order to bring the hips into full extension. An added benefit to the front squat is also getting a lot more muscle recruitment in the upper back. BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting. Second, the hamstring acts as a stabilizing muscle to support the knee joint. If you want more glute and other hip extensor variations, use the low bar squat, wide stance squat, or a high pin squat. PowerliftingTechnique.com also participates in affiliate programs with Bluehost, Clickbank, CJ, ShareASale, and other sites. Furthermore, the adductor magnus will be working more to extend the hips if you have a wider stance squat, less so if you take a narrow (shoulder-width) stance. Further below we will discuss a wide variety of variations and front squat alternatives. While the “gold standard” is the full grip, some athletes may have limited wrist and/or shoulder mobility that may impede them from squatting with a full grip. If you have long legs, check out my article on How To Squat With Long Legs if you want to see how your quad activation changes for tall lifters. If the upper back and lats aren’t tight enough, then the bar will likely shift up or down on the back throughout the movement. In such cases, lifting straps can be used, as well as the “arms crossed” to allow for front-loaded racks to still occur, as the benefits of the front squat far outweigh someone not taking the full front rack grip. Below are three (3) primary sets, reps, and weight (intensity) recommendations for coaches and athletes to properly program the front squat specific to the training goal. Muscles Used In The Front Squat. The front squat can then be used to increase quadriceps development and strength as it limits the capacity to squat with a more horizontal back angle. This is likely due to your hip extensor muscles being too weak, which will fail to bring your hips up and forward underneath the barbell. In this position, you’ll be hinging from your hips more, and flexing into your knees less. On a personal level, I’ve been dedicating myself to the world of powerlifting for the past 15 years, having both competed and coached at the highest level. You’ll also activate your quads more if you squat in a narrow stance. In the bottom of the squat, you’ll use more quad muscles to extend the knee out of the hole. The high bar squat is considered a knee-dominant movement and will require your quads to work much harder. This will require you to use your quads a lot more to drive up because of the greater angle at your knee joint. Front squats have high application to Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit movements (pistol squats, wall balls, cleans), and powerlifting. Furthermore, as you remember from the biomechanics section, the knees will travel in front of the line of force as it descends into the squat. Coach’s Tip: Elbows and chest up…and fight! The front squat is considered a knee-dominant movement and will require your quads to work much harder. So if you have any restrictions at the ankle it might be harder to drop your hips below parallel. We’ll explain more on this later, but first, let’s breakdown each muscle worked in the squat and their role. They do this by preventing the erectors from pulling the spine into hyperextension. The primary muscles worked are: – Quadriceps – Glutes – Hamstrings – Abdominals – Lower back (spinal erectors), upper back – Shoulders. Identifying weak muscles is important because they often contribute to technique deficiencies. The Zombie front squat is essentially a front squat with no hands. I’m Avi Silverberg and this is the place where my friends and I nerd out about powerlifting technique. What happens when your quads are fatiguing is that the body will want to shift the loading demands from your knee extensors to your hips extensors to finish the movement (putting you into a good morning squat position). The front squat can be difficult for many deskbound individuals to perform. These are variations such as front squats, pause squats, and leg presses or hack squats, which we’ll cover in more detail later. Each variation of the squat will involve your knee and hip extensors more or less. As you grind reps in the squat, you may notice some compensation patterns occurring that signal your quads are fatiguing. The Wikipedia definition of a squat highlights just how pivotal squatting is to overall leg development:. The variations that will be discussed are: The low bar squat is considered a hip-dominant movement and will use more muscles of the posterior chain, such as the spinal erectors and glutes. PowerliftingTechnique.com is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. To shift the loading demands from the knees to the hips your body will hinge forward and your hips will pop up out of the bottom of the squat. This is the case when squatting ass-to-grass. In the event you cannot perform this with a full grip you can refer to the below modifications section. This article is part of a series on the muscles used in the powerlifting movements. If our goal is sheer muscle growth, front squats win. A wide stance squat is considered somewhere between 1.5-2X shoulder-width distance. Coach’s Tip: Be sure to sit down rather than pushing the hips back. With a low bar squat, you’ll have slightly more forward torso lean. The Zercher squat is similar to a front squat in that it challenges postural strength, core stability, and shifts loading to the anterior aspect of the body. As a result, it’s a much more physically demanding variation. Front squatting is essential to improving weightlifting performance in the clean, can help build strength and mass in the quadriceps, and has application to many sports and life activities. The spine should stay rigid in order to transfer the force effectively from your knees and hips into the bar. As discussed above, the front squat can increase strength specific to movements like the clean, back squat, and competitive fitness movements. The basic biomechanical principle you need to understand is that joint action will require certain muscles to contract in order to flex and extend that joint properly.