Everyone knows that the back squat is an amazing exercise. That’s why it’s the primary lift on every leg day (or, at least it should be). It is listed as one of the top three compound movements, along with the deadlift and bench press. If you want big legs, then you will definitely need to be squatting – but the back squat isn’t the only effective squat!
While it’s known the back squat with a deep-seated range of motion is the best for adding size to your legs, the front squat has many benefits as well.
You may have seen someone doing it at the gym every once and a while, though it still isn’t very popular. I know, I’m probably only one of two that do it at my gym – at least between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. which is when I’m usually there. While it’s not all that popular, it deserves recognition and it has its place in just about any workout program.
<h3>Why You Should Include Front Squats On Your Leg Day</h3>
1) The best free-weight accessory movement for legs
The back squat is definitely the mass builder. It’s also the movement that you will want to put ahead of every other exercise on your leg day. However, what follows it is usually not considered as much. Most end up using the leg press sled, do lunges, leg extensions, leg curls, and then finish off with their calf exercises.
However, the front squat can always be thrown in right after the back squat as a follow-up exercise. This is a great way to eliminate one of your restricted movements, such as the leg press. And if there’s one thing I know, it’s that if you squat properly and you lift heavy…your workout is done after that. If you aren’t actually done, it’s just because your body isn’t ready to admit it.
2) A great squat variation to use during the cutting phase
The body does very well at differentiating the cutting and bulking phases. When cutting, energy is not as high and pushing your weight up between sessions is not very easy at all. In fact, you are often lucky to be able to keep maintaining the amount that you lift if you are cutting hard enough.
So instead of watching your back squat drop while you’re cutting, you could just completely convert your back squat to a front squat. This will allow you to still hit relatively strong lifts and your body will not be able to measure the difference as well. If anything, the mental benefit of not thinking you’re “deflating” is worth it with this approach.
3) A lot safer in the event of failing out
One of the most difficult parts of the back squat movement is that it is hard to push yourself. Even having a spotter to help out can be difficult – most of the damage will be done before they have a chance to catch the bar in a freak incident regardless.
The front squat puts the bar in front of you. If you fail out, you just drop the bar. Everyone that does the back squat will know what I’m talking about when I say…you can’t just drop the bar.
When you are ready to fail out on the front squat, you will likely start to lean too far forward. This will naturally cause you to drop the weight. This means you are naturally forced to keep a straight spine and your pelvis will stay upright.
4) A great exercise with limited injury risk and for those with weak backs
Front squats are great because they are safer to perform and they do not put too much stress on the body. While they put a lot of stress on the quadriceps, the rest of the body takes a relatively small load.
More noticeably, there is a much less substantial stress load on the shoulders while performing the front squat in comparison to the back squat. This will be immediately noticed given the positioning of the bar during the front squat. It will be especially noticeable in the shoulders and lower back for anyone that has much experience with back squatting with the intent of increasing their lift amount on a regular basis.
5) A great way to increase your back squat, especially when you hit a plateau
Although the back squat is definitely the main leg movement that people perform with the intent of increasing their lift amount on a regular basis and increasing muscle mass as well, alternating between the front and back squat can help with those too. If the back squat is done two days a week, and the front squat done on one of those days, you can perform a heavy lift on every day that you back squat.
A plateau is when a person’s lifts/results seemingly come to a halt. When this happens, often times people end up slowly declining in strength or just giving up on attempting to increase their lift amounts. However, by alternating the front and back squat every second week, you could very easily help minimize the frequency of the back squat without weakening the leg muscles.
So why aren’t you front squatting yet?
Honestly, there are countless other reasons why you should front squat (see this study for more detailed information).