On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m joined by special guest Rick Richey, who coaches me on how to front squat with proper form and technique.
Rick also shares the 3 key coaching cues and points to properly complete a front squat effectively and safely, as well as wrist stretches to increase wrist flexibility.
We also discuss a few other tips on how to progress up to the front squat with a barbell, if you can’t complete the movement properly yet.
One thing a lot of people have is back pain.
When completing a barbell back squat, the weight is loaded on your back, which can then force you to start leaning too far forward.
The barbell front squat is a little different than the barbell back squat, because the barbell is loaded on the front of the body.
When completing a barbell front squat, since the weight is loaded on the front of your shoulders, it’s going to be hard to lean too far forward, because if you do, you’re going to drop the weight.
Therefore, during the front squat, it requires you to use proper form by extending your back, thus putting your back in a better position.
It’s also important to keep, what we call a “tibia torso angle” during the lowering and raising of the front squat.
This occurs when the shins and the torso remain at the same angle during the movement, similar to windshield wipers.
If someone is prone for leaning too far forward during their barbell back squat, the front squat is going to correct this by keeping the torso more upright, at a proper angle.
The front squat is also helpful in building the necessary core strength that is so important to reduce back pain.
So let’s jump in and head over to the squat rack to learn how to front squat with proper form and technique.
To get into the barbell front squat position, you will load the barbell on the front of your shoulders.
One of the issues a lot of people have with properly completing a barbell front squat is comfortably getting into the front rack grip position.
The barbell front squat requires a large range of motion when the wrist is extended.
For some people, this level of wrist extension doesn’t feel good.
However, if you don’t have issues getting into this position, this grip is the proper form, so use it.
Once you have the barbell loaded on the front of your shoulders, focus on keeping your elbows up and pointed to create a shelf with your arms.
If the front squat grip doesn’t feel good for you, hold the barbell in a different way by swapping it out for the “I Dream Of Jeannie” grip.
The difference with this grip is it has your arms crossed over in front of your body.
This regressed grip version is what I used when I first started learning how to do the barbell front squat.
It’s not a regressed grip because it’s a weaker total body strength position, it’s regressed because of the ease of the wrist position.
Then I went through a progression to build up to the proper barbell front squat grip.
If you feel like you can control the movement better with this grip position, fantastic.
However, if you don’t think you can control the movement as well with this grip, go back and work on your wrist flexibility.
Then let that be your goal of improving wrist flexibility.
Here are some examples of stretching exercises to improve wrist flexibility.
The Standing Prayer Wrist And Fingers Stretch is a great way to improve flexibility of the wrists and fingers, especially if you struggle with the front rack grip position when performing barbell front squats.
To get started:
If you want to focus on one wrist at a time, try this.
The Standing Single Arm Wrist Extension Stretch is a great way to focus on improving the flexibility of each wrist, one at a time, especially if you struggle with the front rack grip position when performing barbell front squats.
To get started:
Even though these wrist flexibility exercises look easy, if you have tight forearms and wrists, you will feel this stretch.
Give these wrist flexibility stretches a try if you can’t quite get into the proper front rack squat grip position.
Until then, go with the “I Dream Of Jeannie” grip, but try to progress up to the front rack squat grip with these stretches.
The next coaching cue is when you lower your body down into the squat, try to make sure you keep the weight balanced over your entire foot.
When you have the weight loaded in front of your body, you don’t want to lean forward or backward too much.
You want to use and push through the whole platform of the foot to drive back up to the top of the front squat.
The other coaching cue you want to think about is rather than just standing up, think about pushing the floor away from your body.
Another reason why we love the barbell front squat is it allows for a great range of motion during the lowering of the squat.
When you come up out of the bottom of the squat, mentally think about pressing the floor away from you, rather than moving the bar up.
Even though I was only using an unloaded barbell during this tutorial video, my body was shaking because I was creating so much tension through my lower body and core, by pressing the floor away from me.
During the barbell front squat, the core is activated by stabilizing the weight from falling forward.
Lastly, at the top of the squat, think about driving your hips forward to move them in between your shoulders and knees.
This way your knees and hips straight at the exact same time.
Big thanks and appreciation to Rick Richey for taking the time to coach me on how to front squat with proper form and technique, and for allowing us to film in his studio.
Add more front squats to your workout.
If you’re new to the front squat, try it with an empty barbell first.
Once you get the movement down, progress your way up by adding weight.
You can also try the dumbbell front squat variation.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.