Connect
To Top


Top 4 Reasons to do Front Squats


Would you believe that a man who has won three IFBB shows, who has been top six at the Mr. Olympia; and who has some of the absolute best quads in pro bodybuilding today has never done a single set of squats in his life? As crazy as it sounds, it’s true in the case of Germany’s Ronny “the Rock” Rockel.

Maybe I should clarify that. Ronny has never in his life done standard squats with a barbell on his back—but he’s done thousands of sets of front squats. At his off-season weight of 240 he hit 450 on them for eight very deep reps. If there is any debate that front squats can be every bit as effective as back squats, look no further than Rockel’s wheels: thick, separated, dense and just plain nasty, with sick outer sweeps and vastus medialis muscles so meaty they hang below his kneecaps.

It’s a little-known fact that the modern era’s Tom Platz, Branch Warren has also done nearly as many sets of front squats as he has back squats for most of his pro career. One of the most memorable moments in Ronnie Coleman’s legendary training video “The Unbelievable” was seeing him rep out with six plates—585 freaking pounds—on front squats. Fronts are an underrated gem for building massive legs. In fact, I could legitimately make an argument for the superiority of front squats in certain circumstances.

Lower-back problems. If you are currently suffering from lower-back pain or have a history of lower-back injuries, squats are a very risky proposition. The degree of spinal compression—plus the risk of rounding your back when the reps get tough to complete—are significant. In contrast, front squats force you to keep a perfectly upright posture. If you lean forward, the bar will roll off you. It’s also true that most people can’t handle anywhere near as much weight on front squats. To those with back problems, that’s perfect. Squatting with 275 pounds doesn’t compress the spine as much as 405 would.

Taller men. Guys with long legs often have a very difficult time maintaining proper form and any semblance of an upright torso on squats. Often they are forced to splay their legs in a wide sumo stance just to stay balanced. Front squats are typically much more suited to bodies with longer limbs because you won’t have the constant impulse to pitch forward.

Those with enormous glutes. Do you already have a pair of bowling balls for glutes, a butt so huge that people wonder if you are part Clydesdale? If so, squats are a double-edged sword for you. You probably move some serious weight up and down, but your quads are always sharing the work with that big old ass. Front squats shift much more of the focus to the quads, where you want it, enabling you to build them up without continuing your butt’s expansion into the next ZIP code.

Anyone burnt out on squats. Any exercise, no matter how basic and productive, will become stale to you at some point. Rather than taking a break from squats and just doing leg presses and hacks, do plenty of front squats instead. The movement can be awkward at first, but after a few workouts you will get the form down right, and they will feel just as natural to you as back squats. Plus, because they are stimulating your quads in a different way, you are bound to see some fresh new growth in your thighs.

Ronny Rockel is living proof that a truly incredible pair of quads can be built purely with front squats. Why not see if you, too, can add to that body of evidence and help front squats get the recognition they rightfully deserve?

 

Editor’s note: Ron Harris is the author of Real Bodybuilding—Muscle Truth From 25 Years in the Trenches, available at www.RonHarrisMuscle.com.

 

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Latest

  • The Wonder Brassica

    Everyone is waiting for stem cells to advance to the point where we can take an injection and suddenly have the midsection of...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 24, 2016
  • Muscle for Mental Health

    Age-related decline, be it mental or physical, is a brutal fact of life, the price you pay for taking so many trips around...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 23, 2016
  • Finish Strong

    If you like to train for strength—think big compound movements in the four- to six-rep rage try capping off your manly sets with a lightweight finisher. Sports scientists at the...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 22, 2016
  • Simple Muscle-building Fat-loss Workout

    Q: Can you give me a simple muscle-building and fat-loss workout I can do at home twice a week? I’ve been...

    Charles PoliquinApril 21, 2016
  • Vitamin D-stry Fat

    With fewer adults drinking milk and being more prudent about exposing their skin to the rays of the sun, vitamin D...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 21, 2016
  • Hardbody Feature: Amber Dawn Fokken

    It’s hard not to be captivated when looking at Amber Dawn Fokken. Her striking blue eyes and perfect physique are a...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 20, 2016
  • The Backup Plan

    Think about what you spend each year on gym memberships and the time and money spent driving there and back. That’s more  than enough to...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 19, 2016
  • Full Spectrum Chest

    All chest workouts are not created equal. For a complete program, you need to attack the pecs from a va- riety of...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 18, 2016
  • Do you know squat?

    If you like to train for strength—think big compound movements in the four- to six-rep rage—try capping off your manly sets with a lightweight finisher. Sports scientists at the University...

    Iron Man MagazineApril 18, 2016

CLOSE