Illustration of a man doing a barbell front squat

Why Front-Loaded Squats Are Best for Bulking

All types of squatting are great for building muscle, gaining strength, and improving our health and fitness. In fact, in many ways, squats are the best bulking lift. However, although all squat variations are great for us, each of them has a different purpose, and some of them are much better for bulking than others.

For powerlifters, the low-bar squat is king. It uses a smaller range of motion, it has great leverage, and our back strength won’t ever hold us back. If our goal is to squat as much weight as possible, low-bar squats are best.

For athletes, high-bar squats are popular. The range of motion is a little larger, it still allows for fairly heavy loading, and it does a great job of bulking up the lower body. For sprinters, footballers, and rugby players, it’s a great squat variation.

But what if you’re a skinny guy who’s trying to get bigger, stronger, healthier, and better looking? We aren’t trying to win powerlifting competitions, and we care about more than just being able to sprint like a demon. 

For us, front-loaded squats–such as goblet squats and front squats—are easily the best squat variations. They allow for the largest range of motion, they pack muscle onto our lower and upper bodies, they toughen up our spines, and they help us stand taller and straighter.

  • If our goal is sheer muscle growth, front squats win.
  • If our goal is to develop general strength, front squats win.
  • And if our goal is to improve our aesthetics, again, front squats win—easily.

Here’s why.

What are Front-Loaded Squats?

Before we dive deep, let’s clear up what we mean by front-loaded squats. We’re talking about any squat variation where the weight is held in front of us. There are a few variations:

Illustration of a man doing a dumbbell goblet squat.

The goblet squat has us holding a dumbbell in front of us, and it’s famous for being the best beginner variation. However, it’s not just a beginner’s lift. It remains one of the very best bulking lifts until we grow too strong for them—until we can do 12+ reps with the heaviest dumbbells we have access to. After all, it not only bulks up our legs but also our backs and even our arms.

Illustration showing how to do squats with two dumbbells or kettlebells.
The “racked” double-dumbbell or kettlebell squat.

Once we get too strong for goblet squats, there’s the option of grabbing two dumbbells or kettlebells and holding them in a racked position, allowing us to squat twice as heavy if all we have access to are dumbbells or kettlebells.

Illustration of a man doing a barbell front squat.
The front squat.

The front squat has us holding the barbell in front of us, in the crease between our collarbones and our shoulders. Unlike the goblet squat, you can load it up progressively heavier without fear of ever outgrowing it. The “advantage” of the front squat is that you won’t be limited by your arm strength, making it better for challenging your legs and your back.

Illustration of a man doing a Zercher squat
The Zercher squat.

The Zercher squat has us holding the barbell in the crook of our elbows, supported by our biceps and traps. It’s an advanced combination of the front squat and the goblet squat. Like the front squat, you can load it up gradually heavier without fear of growing too strong for it. But like the goblet squat, it challenges your legs, your back, and your arms. This makes it a great companion exercise for the front squat.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll be talking about all front-loaded squats. I understand that they’re all slightly different, but they all share some common dynamics, and it’s those commonalities they share that makes them so great for bulking.

Since front squats are the main squat variation you’d be using for most of your bulking career, we’ll use it as our main example. But the same principles apply to goblet squats, and, in many cases, the Zercher squat as well.

Front-Loaded Squats are True Full-Body Lifts

Some people think of the classic back squat as a full-body lift, others think of them it as being a leg lift. Both groups are right.

  • A back squat is a full-body lift in the sense that it will improve our overall health and fitness. It puts a great strain on our bones, tendons, ligaments, and even our cardiovascular system, provoking a number of great full-body adaptations.
  • But back squatting won’t build muscle in our upper bodies. Only our quads, glutes, and adductors will be brought close enough to failure to stimulate a robust amount of muscle growth.

That isn’t to downplay the value of the squat. Our quads and glutes are the biggest muscles in our bodies, so any lift that challenges them will allow us to build a tremendous amount of overall muscle. It’s just that all of that muscle will be in our lower bodies, like so:

Illustration of the muscles worked with the low-bar and high-bar back squat.
Muscles worked in the back squat.

A front squat, on the other hand, is a true full-body lift. We get all of the aforementioned health and fitness benefits, but also build a ton of muscle in our upper bodies, like so:

Muscles worked in the goblet squat, front squat, and Zercher squat.
Muscles worked in the front squat.

It’s a little weird that moving the barbell in front of our necks would bring in so much extra muscle mass. To understand why that is, we have to look at how it changes the physics of the lift:

What we’re seeing here is the moment arms calculated at the sticking point of the back squat and the front squat. That may or may not sound like mumbo jumbo, but bear with me.

  • Moment arms are the horizontal distance between our joints and the weight. The longer the moment arm, the harder it will be for our muscles to lift the weight.
  • The sticking point is where our muscles contract the hardest, where we stimulate the most muscle growth, and where most people lose the momentum that they need to finish the lift. The hardest part of the squat is when the moment arms are the longest for our hips and knees, which is when our femurs are parallel to the ground.

So what we’re seeing in that illustration is that back squats put our hips in a position of poor leverage at the sticking point, forcing them to work harder to lift the barbell. As a result, we get a lift that’s quite challenging on our lower bodies, not so challenging for our upper bodies.

On the other hand, the front squat makes the moment arms longer for our upper backs (and quads), making the front squat a true full-body lift. In fact, Greg Nuckols, MA, calculated that front squats work our upper backs 235% harder than back squats (source):

When we finish a set of front squats, it’s not just our legs that have been challenged enough to grow, but also our upper backs. The obvious benefit is that we’ll build muscle in our upper backs, but there are a couple of secondary advantages, too:

On that note:

Front Squats are Better for Aesthetics

When it comes to our aesthetics, most people look like the fickle fellow on the left but would rather look like the righteous fellow on the right. Front squats are a great way to do that. They bulk up our spinal erectors, strengthen our backs overall, and improve our posture (study).

Before/After illustration of a man improving his posture.

Now, front squats aren’t the only way to do that. Conventional deadlifts are great for improving the strength of our spinal erectors, too. Even overhead pressing can help. But front squats may be the single best lift for improving our posture.

Think of it this way. If your upper back muscles can keep you from caving forward while you’re holding hundreds of pounds in front of your body, how easy will it be to stand up straight when you aren’t holding anything at all?

Front Squats are Deeper

One criticism of front squats is that they’re quite a bit lighter than back squats. And that’s true: most people can high-bar squat about 25% more weight than they can front squat, and can low-bar squat roughly 35% more weight than they can front squat.

The assumption is that because front squats are so much lighter, then they must not be as good for bulking up the quads, glutes, and adductors. They’re better for our upper bodies but at the cost of being worse for our lower bodies.

However, that fails to take into account the fact that front squats allow us to sink so much deeper, like so:

What’s happening here is that because we’re squatting with a more upright torso, our hips are tilted further back, our hip angle at the bottom of the squat is lower, and so we can sink much deeper without our pelvises jamming up against our femurs.

Have more space in our hips is great for reducing the risk of hip injuries, and it’s also better for improving our flexibility, mobility, and general strength, and you might even argue that it’s better for the aesthetics of our quads, since they’re being worked through a larger range of motion. But we’re talking about sheer muscle growth here, so let’s get back to the point.

Consider a partial squat, where you only squat down a few inches. Shortening the range of motion allows us to lift much heavier, right? But because we’re losing all of that range of motion, it cancels out the benefit. In fact, the shallower depth makes partial squats worse for bulking our legs.

The same principle is true with back squats and front squats… sort of. Partial squats allow us to lift heavier because we’re stopping our descent before the sticking point. We’re making the lift easier by shortening the moment arms. Most of us can learn to back squat to parallel, which means we’re descending al the way to the sticking point of the squat. Going deeper wouldn’t necessarily force us to take any weight off the bar because going deeper wouldn’t increase the peak demands on our muscles. That’s why squatting to parallel counts as a “complete” squat.

Even so, front squats do allow us to go much deeper, and that has other advantages. For starters, it allows us to get a much tighter knee angle at the bottom of the squat, like so:

That tighter knee angle means that we can work our quads through a much larger range of motion.

So what we have is a lighter squat that works our quads through a much larger range of motion, making it harder to guess whether we’d get more net muscle growth or not. But if we look at a study by Bret Contreras, PhD, we see that front squats and back squats produce the same amount of quad (and glute) growth.

In terms of our health and fitness, that greater range of motion also means more time under tension, a greater distance to push the barbell, and so even though we’re using a lighter weight, we’re still doing a similar amount of overall work, and thus getting similar overall benefits.

That means that with front squats, we’re getting the extra upper-back growth without any real downside.

So to summarize:

  • Having extra hip space and using lighter weights reduces our risk of injury without reducing health and performance benefits.
  • We work our quads through a larger range of motion, thus developing a more versatile strength, and likely better quad aesthetics as well.
  • This extra range of motion makes up for using lighter weights, allowing us to bring our upper backs into the squat, and thus stimulating more overall muscle growth.

Front Squats Force Great Technique

So, let’s be frank for a moment. When we first learn how to front squat, it feels kind of like being strangled by a barbell. Beginners often need to do some stretching before being able to even get into the proper starting position. And even with plenty of stretching, our forearm and finger tendons might still be stretched to the point of pain.

How to do front squats (tutorial video + forearm stretches).

Here’s a video of Marco teaching the front squat. At the end, he goes over some stretches you can use to improve your forearm and shoulder mobility and flexibility, allowing you to hold the bar in a proper rack position (as opposed to using the cross grip).

The front squat will become very comfortable with practice, but I don’t want to gloss over the fact that it’s a more advanced squat variation. In fact, it’s arguably a more advanced squat variation than the back squat.

One solution to this, of course, is to start with goblet squats. By the time we can goblet squat the heaviest dumbbell for a dozen reps, chances are that we’ll have developed the strength and mobility we need to front squat.

However, despite being a tricky lift to master, the technique we use to front squat actually comes with a ton of advantages, too. It’s great for our mobility, awesome for our posture, we’re less likely to injure our hips, and, finally, it forces good form.

If you back squat with bad technique, you may still be able to muscle the barbell up. With a front squat, though, if you aren’t maintaining a pleasantly upright spine, the weight will tumble off of your shoulders. Not only does that make front squats safer, but it also makes them for learning how to squat with proper technique.

Main Takeaways

The main point of this article is to illustrate why front-loaded squats are so incredibly good for bulking. Now, that isn’t to say that other squat variations aren’t great as well. They are, especially when it comes to bulking up our quads (which are the biggest muscles in our bodies).

Even so, the front squat has a whole slew of advantages. Just to keep things interesting, I’ve included some extra advantages that weren’t covered above, too:

  • Deeper range of motion: we front squat with a more upright torso, allowing for a larger range of motion, and making it less likely that we’ll jam our hips into our femurs.
  • More upper back growth: because we’re supporting the weight in front of us, front squats do a better job of bulking up our upper backs. This is great from both a bulking perspective, of course, but it’s also great for our general strength (and our deadlifts).
  • Front squatting is great for our spines: squatting with an upright torso puts our spines under plenty of compressive force, making our spines tougher, but also less shear stress, reducing our risk of injury, and likely making the front squat less fatiguing.
  • Front squats force better squatting technique: when we’re front squatting, any deviation in technique will cause the weight to dump forward off of shoulders. This means that even when squatting hard, and even when approaching failure, front squats continue to reinforce good technique.
  • Front squats are better for our posture and shoulders: a typical back squat requires developing the mobility needed to crank our shoulders backwards, which is fine, but it won’t improve our shoulder health. Front squats, on the other hand, require developing t-spine mobility so that we can get into a proper rack position, improving our upper back (t-spine) mobility and posture.
  • Front squatting is easier on our knees. That doesn’t matter for most people. Unless our knees are already injured, squatting tends to make them tougher. But some of our knees are already injured, and front squats are good for that (study).
  • Front squats still yield just as much quad and glute growth: front squats are lighter, yes, but since we’re squatting deeper, it produces equal growth in our quads and glutes (study).
Illustration of a skinny guy building muscle and becoming muscular (before/after).

If you haven’t gained your first 20–30 pounds of muscle yet, or if you aren’t confident in your squat technique, you’ll love our Bony to Beastly Bulking Program. We’ll show you how to build muscle and master the big (and small) lifts, as well as teaching you everything you need to know about bulking nutrition and lifestyle.

If you’re already know how to lift and how to bulk, but you’re interested in min-maxing your bulking routine, you’ll love our Outlift Intermediate Bulking Program.

Shane Duquette is the co-founder and creative lead of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, and has a degree in design from York University in Toronto, Canada. He's personally gained sixty pounds at 11% body fat and has nine years of experience helping over ten thousand skinny people bulk up.

Marco Walker-Ng is the co-founder and strength coach of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, and is a certified trainer (PTS) with a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences (BHSc) from the University of Ottawa. His specialty is helping people build muscle to improve their strength and general health, with clients including college, professional, and Olympic athletes.

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  1. Ricky on February 6, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Love this!! Great article Shane! I’ve been front squatting a lot more recently and I can vouch for the upper back strengthening!

    • Shane Duquette on February 6, 2020 at 9:36 am

      Thanks, Ricky 😀

      • Dan on February 7, 2020 at 1:25 pm

        Article fails to mention that most people can typically squat 2x as much on their backs then they can in a front loaded position. Thereby multiplying the load and volume by 2 for the legs and glutes. Oh no! What about the back! Solved: most people can deadlift 3-4x what they can front squat. 3-4x the load, volume, etc. So just back squat as heavy as you can, then deadlift as heavy as you can on a different day. The total volume and intensity will be considerably higher, imagine what that will do to your muscle mass and strength over time compared to the front squat.

        • Shane Duquette on February 7, 2020 at 4:49 pm

          Hey Dan, thanks for the comment, man. Good points, and I agree with the general idea that our lifts have overlap between them and that no one variation is necessary to get any particular benefit.

          The article does mention that most people can back squat about 35% more weight than they can front squat, and we don’t really need to imagine what it will do to our muscle mass and strength over time: as pointed out in the article, there’s research looking into that. Even accounting for the fact that people can back squat heavier than they can front squat, they both yield the same amount of muscle growth in the lower body. However, the front squat adds in the extra upper-body growth, which I’d consider a boon.

          As for our backs, yes, the deadlift is great for bulking up our spinal erectors as well. That doesn’t negate the benefits of the front squat. It’s good to have some overlap between our lifts. In fact, you could even make the argument that the bigger back you get from front squats makes them a great assistance lift for the deadlift.

          Plus, the postural benefits of the front squat are somewhat different from the benefits you get from the deadlift. They both challenge our thoracic spine a little differently, and if anything, it seems to be the front squat that’s especially good at righting a rounded upper back. The deadlift, on the other hand, is better at strengthening our lower backs.

        • D on April 2, 2021 at 3:30 pm

          “If your goal is to squat as much weight as possible, low-bar squats are best.”

          He did mention that if you want to move the most weight, low bar squat. As a person who struggles with posture issues, front squats help me the most. And some folks’ goals will not include a 6-plate squat.

  2. Rod on February 6, 2020 at 8:48 am

    Man great brother..also dont give up on your was prob the best app out there even with the bugs it had..I used it for a while until it got to corrupted and switched to muscle hack which is in so many ways worse.

    Your blogs , the way you write, the way you place diagrams , and the kind of pictures you use are perfect..even the colors are on point. I’ll keep on enjoying and sharing with others whatever you put out.


    • Shane Duquette on February 6, 2020 at 9:37 am

      I’m not quite sure what app you mean. We don’t have an app. But thank you 🙂

  3. Lou on February 6, 2020 at 9:03 am

    Great article! Love front squats. I’m through Phase 1 of Outlift and love it. Still don’t have the forearm flexibility for the traditional grip so I compensate with the crossover. I think if I could get the traditional grip down I could do more weight. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Shane Duquette on February 6, 2020 at 9:35 am

      Woot, glad to hear it, man! I added a front squat video to the technique section. At the end of the video, Marco goes over some stretches that you can do before your front squats.

      Do the stretches and then see if you can use the clean grip afterwards. If you can, great. It might still hurt, but once you can practice it, it soon becomes comfortable—usually within a couple of weeks. If you still can’t use the clean grip even after stretching, no problem, just use the cross grip. Keep doing the stretches and attempting the clean grip. Eventually, you’ll get it.

      Getting better at the overhead press often frees up some flexibility there, too, so you have multiple lifts working to prepare you for it 🙂

      I’m not sure that using a clean grip would help you lift more weight, but it’ll be better for your posture and mobility for sure. You’ve got me curious now, though. Once you’ve got the clean grip down, I’d love to hear about whether your strength improves.

      • Pike on February 7, 2020 at 10:50 pm

        I’m not sure if it’s considered cheating or not, but I’ve used straps to help hold the bar more easily in front squat. Basically tie the strap around the bar like it’s your wrist then wrap it once (or twice or none depending on flexibility) around your hand and hold it in a fist with the bottom of your hand facing up. For me it feels very natural and secure and I can imagine the straps drawing a line to the ceiling and me following it

        • Shane Duquette on February 8, 2020 at 7:19 am

          That’s a good way of doing it, yeah. It might be considered cheating, sure, but we’re just trying to make the lifts suit our bodies and vice versa. Using straps is allowing you to get into a rack position that you wouldn’t be able to get into otherwise. I think that’s a great solution 🙂

        • Lou on February 8, 2020 at 4:43 pm

          Thanks! I’ll give that a whirl

      • Lou on February 8, 2020 at 4:42 pm

        Thanks Shane.. I’ll check out the videos…and keep you posted regarding progress!

  4. Dustin McMullen on February 6, 2020 at 9:39 am

    I like the article, it’s well written and the illustrations are great. Front squats are a great addition to a strength and hypertrophy based program.

    To play devils advocate:
    There’s no reason why someone who back squats can’t reach the same depth as you show for the front squat. I know of quite a few people who squat ATG on the back squat (especially with squatting shoes). On top of that there are a few peer review studies done that show similar activation across the flutes & quads for parallel vs beyond parallel.

    Also the training spinal erectors & arms while training legs is great if I’m only trying to maximize my benefits while minimizing my time in the gym. However if I’m okay with spending a bit more time in the gym in order to maximize my hypertrophy and strength I’d argue that hitting the muscle groups directly twice a week & leaving them alone to heal while I train legs is more optimum.

    Again great article and I love your take on squat variations. Keep them coming they are a joy to read!

    • Shane Duquette on February 6, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Hey Dustin, thanks, man!

      I love Devil’s advocates. Awesome. And I largely agree with you, but let me push back against that a little bit.

      To your first point, you’re totally right that some people can squat ass-to-grass while back squatting, especially with a high-bar position, especially if they don’t have much forward pelvic tilt, and especially if they have good hip anatomy for it. Even so, most people will be able to squat deeper when front squatting.

      To your second point, peak muscle activation in the quads and glutes is at around parallel, when the moment arms are the longest. However, that doesn’t mean that going deeper won’t stimulate more muscle growth. Your quads will still need to do more overall work, and they’ll still be strengthened through a larger range of motion. The sticking point will still be just above parallel, but that doesn’t make the rest of the range of motion worthless.

      Consider a barbell curl. Peak activation will be in the middle of the range of motion when our forearms are parallel to the floor. That’s when the moment arms are the longest, presenting the greatest challenge to our biceps. But does that mean that the best way to curl is to isometrically hold the barbell in that position? No. It’s still better to use a large range of motion, trying to accelerate the weight up and then lowering it back down under control. Even though biceps activation isn’t peaked in the more stretched and contracted positions, we still get more muscle growth (and more versatile strength gains) with a fuller range of motion.

      This same phenomenon is true in every lift. Peak activation happens at a certain point in the lift, often when the moment arms are the longest, but that doesn’t devalue the rest of the range of motion.

      To your third point, yeah, you could combine a few different exercises to get the benefits of front squatting. You could do the leg press for your quads, some high-bar good-mornings for your back and hips. I don’t see any problem with that. You’d be spending more time in the gym with no real added benefit, but that isn’t a problem if you enjoy that extra time in the gym—and lots of guys do.

      If it were me, though, I might still choose efficient exercises and then spend my extra time on muscles that aren’t properly stimulated with compound lifts, such as the muscles in our necks. But again, yeah, that’s still based on the idea of only wanting to spend a certain amount of time lifting weights.

      This may sound weird, but the reason I love lifting is because of the benefits that I get from it, not because I find the process inherently enjoyable. If I can get the same results with less time in the gym, freeing up more time for drawing, writing, reading, my family, etc—I’m all for it.

      • Dustin McMullen on February 6, 2020 at 10:43 am

        For sure! Range of motion is very important, especially for joint stability through strengthening of ancillary stabilizing muscles & for flexibility. Totally agree with you!

        I’m one of those weirdos that likes spending time in the gym so a push pull legs split works well for me. If I’m gone for too long those demons start talking. haha

        Great points I think our difference in approach comes from having different goals & wants from our training. Choosing front loaded squats definitely maximizes your results while keeping time spent in the gym to a minimum. I tend to overthink things & be all over the place if I don’t get some hard work in every day. In the past I’ve always worked hard outside everyday & now work a desk job so it keeps me sane lol. I try to get a shorter session in before my fiancé gets home every day instead of going longer for fewer times a week.

        Love your well thought out responses & how you always take the time to reply to everyone.

        You really know your stuff Shane! Thanks for all the amazing articles. I’ve been lurking reading your stuff since my friend got me to the gym like 7 years ago. Far from skinny these days, & I know a ton more than I used to. I still love these articles. You have a real passion for what you do & it comes through in ever way. Thanks brother!

  5. […] front squat is another good example. The front squat is the best squat variation for building overall muscle mass, but it’s also a hard lift to learn. In fact, it’s often borderline impossible for a […]

  6. […] we favour the front squat (or goblet squat), which puts more emphasis on the upper back. Similarly, when we deadlift, we put more emphasis on […]

  7. […] position). Strength training routines aren’t ideal for bulking up, though. Guys who are trying to bulk up should probably favour front-load squats, such as front squats and goblet […]

  8. […] Front Squat: Given that they allow a deeper range of motion, front squats tend to be better for overall quad development. Plus, having the barbell in front does a better job of bulking up the core and upper back, as well as helping to improve posture. That’s why, overall, we prefer front-loaded squats for bulking. […]

  9. […] The Squat (and especially the front squat) […]

  10. […] at least a minimalist approach to lower-body training, often centred around squats (especially front squats) and deadlifts (especially conventional […]

  11. […] going to look. That means that the bigger you can build your overhead press, your deadlift, your front squat, your bench press, and your chin-up, the more attractive you’ll be, and there doesn’t […]

  12. Tom on February 6, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    I agree. And work toward using a full grip on the bar because training that way will cause correct positioning and ensure thoracic spine uprightness.

  13. The Front Squat Guide (for Size) – Outlift on February 6, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    […] for building overall muscle mass, improving posture, and gaining all-around strength, making it the best default variation for bulking up. The downside is that it’s bad for powerlifting and it’s hard to […]

  14. Doc G on February 6, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Wow, great illustrations Shane! Love the discussion of moment arms and biomechanics. I can attest that every word of this is true, and add one more observation: Because of my wrist mobility and length of forearm and maybe other factors, the standard front squat has just never worked well for me… but Zerchers are a miracle lift. In addition to everything else, they also recruit the shoulders and biceps — and the thing I don’t fully understand is they fire up my abs big time on heavier loads. (Why does one need ab contraction to hold form in a front squat? Curious.)

    For anyone thinking of trying Zerchers, take a small 20 – 24″ gym towel and wrap it around the bar to protect your elbow crease, or wear elbow wraps.

    • Shane Duquette on February 6, 2020 at 4:34 pm

      Thank you, Doc!

      Yeah, front squats are pretty sweet for the abs. Not just the transverse abdominis but also the rectus abdominis “6-pack” abs. I don’t think they’d compare against something like a chin-up or crunch, and maybe not even against an overhead press, but I’d wager they’re the best squat variation for our abs.

      If I had to hazard a guess, I think that your abs are firing so hard to keep your core braced. You’re flexing your abs to keep your pelvis from tipping back and to keep your ribs from flaring up, giving you a nice strong brace.

      Zerchers can hurt the crooks of our elbows, yeah, good point. I started with higher reps and lighter weights and then worked my way down. By the time it got heavy, I had adapted to the stress of it. But I like the idea of using the towel. That’s smart.

      If you keep doing those stretches in the tutorial video and you keep trying the front squat, I bet you’d be able to get it. But I love Zerchers. Such a badass way to squat. No harm in keeping on with those 🙂

  15. Ben on February 14, 2020 at 9:58 am

    As always, great article Shane. Really enjoyed the extra effort that went into the mathematic / physics side of it (and the illustration to make it shine).

    I remember how much I used to HATE goblet squat when I got into b2B. Now you’ve given us another reason to aim for that heaviest dumbell at the gym :p

    • Shane Duquette on February 15, 2020 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks, Ben!

      Ahaha yeah, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to write this article. Sometimes it’s hard to get stoked about doing a lift that’s so brutally challenging, especially since it doesn’t work our biceps, shoulders, or chest. But when we dig deeper into squats, they’re really cool. The more research I did into their benefits, the more I started enjoying my squat sessions 🙂

  16. Daniel on February 16, 2020 at 4:24 am

    Great article Shane

    I used to do Front Squat A LOT. It is what I started with in CrossFit, then took it to Powerlifting classes, hundreds of reps of FS, all the time.

    BS is indeed demanding on shoulders, let alone in my case after left shoulder injury. I tried BS for some time, it hurts, does not feel stable and from experience I like to see the bar and if too heavy drop it in front of me and step back vs. getting pinned underneath it.

    This article reminded me how I actually miss FS. I think I will replace all my BS with FS again.

  17. […] at the overall movement pattern. Conventional deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, barbell rows, and front-loaded squats are all […]

  18. […] how moment arms affect the dynamics of our lifts can help us choose between front squats and back squats, sumo and conventional deadlift stances, and how wide to grip the barbell when bench pressing, […]

  19. […] per week. Start each workout with a couple of big compound lifts. Something along the lines of front-loaded squats, conventional deadlifts, chin-ups, bench press (or push-ups), overhead presses. The lifts will vary […]

  20. […] something like a front squat done with a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells, where we squat down as deep as our hips and knees […]

  21. Sherri Owen on March 20, 2022 at 8:39 am

    Hi. I like the idea of using front squats, but my squat depth is limited by my ankle mobility. Can you recommend ways to deepen my squat by increasing ankle flexibility?

    • Shane Duquette on March 21, 2022 at 2:28 pm

      Let me ask Marco about increasing flexibility.

      You can also get squat shoes, raise your heels up on small weight plates, or use squat wedges. All of those will raise your heels up, reducing the amount of ankle mobility you need to squat. I know that’s not quite your question, though. I’ll add another comment when I hear back from Marco.

      • Sherri Owen on March 22, 2022 at 1:33 pm

        Thank you Shane. I used front squats for my most recent workout and I love that I feel it in new places. Any help will be appreciated as I’m hoping to keep up with front squats.

        • Shane Duquette on March 23, 2022 at 9:50 am

          He’s recommending that you make sure your hips are in a neutral position. If they’re tilted forward, you might be jamming your femurs into your pelvis earlier than you need to. If that’s the case, you might not need as much ankle mobility as you think.

          He’s also saying that you can try keeping your weight on the MIDDLE of your foot. If you’re too much on your heels, it can be harder to keep your torso upright. If you’re too much on your toes, it’s great for keeping upright, but it can put a ton of tension in your calves, reducing your mobility in your ankles. If you keep your weight balanced between your heels and toes—a “tripod foot”—then you might find it easier to go deeper.

          You can also try sitting in a deep squat as a type of stretch. Just hang out there for a few minutes each day trying to make the position more natural and comfortable. Over time, you might find that your ankles open up a bit. Or maybe you find it more intuitive to sink into a comfortable position at the bottom of the squat once you’ve gotten intimate with it outside the gym.

          • Sherri Owen on March 23, 2022 at 6:35 pm

            Thank you.

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