If you would have told me a few months ago that performing a ton of front squats would help improve most of my other lifts I probably wouldn’t have believed you. However, recently I have had the (pleasure?) of having to do a TON of front squats every week to prepare for the upcoming CrossFit competition season. Lo and behold they have helped improve my posture, they’ve helped me drop faster and gain strength in my Olympic lifts, and they have helped me maintain my strength in the back squat even though I have barely done any of those lately. So, here are a few tips to help you improve and progress your front squat.
1. Mobility, mobility, mobility. I can’t stress enough how important this is to the front squat. Mobility work should be done before and after working out. During your warm up work on wrist and shoulder mobility to help keep your“elbows up” during the front squat and perform air squats concentrating on opening up the hips, and working on depth while keeping the back upright. It’s also a good idea to work on glute activation, which can be done doing straight-legged side steps with a band. After a workout continue to move (slow walking or rowing) to keep blood from pooling and causing soreness, and use some mobility tools such as a foam roller or mashing instruments to work out knots and keep you mobile for the next day’s adventures.
2. Pause Squats. Pause squats are a great way to help your front squat. While performing a front squat spend some time in the bottom (3-5 seconds should do the trick!). Then practice exploding out of the bottom. This forces you to keep your back upright so you don’t drop the weight while in the bottom, thereby strengthening your back and helping your posture. It also forces you to activate your glutes and hamstrings from the bottom before switching back to the quads towards the end of the squat movement, which in turn strengthens your glutes and hamstrings, preparing you for a bunch of other movements that involve those muscles.
3. 1 ¼ reps. I have just recently been introduced to these (seriously, only about 3 weeks ago!), but I love/hate them. While performing a front squat get to the bottom of that squat, come back up to just above parallel, then go back down to the bottom of the squat before exploding up. Whoa! They’re tough, but so good for improving the front squat. These help with coordination, timing, skill, and they put you on the fast track to gaining strengt
Of course there are many, many other ways to work on improving and progressing in the front squat. These are just a few of my favorites lately. But, do you want to know the real secret on how to improve and progress in your front squat? DO MORE FRONT SQUATS!!