The front squat is a great leg exercise for focusing on quad development.
If you’ve tried it, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it is not an easy movement to master.
Why Is My Front Squat So Weak?
If your leg muscles aren’t strong enough, you will have a tough time getting deep enough into the squat position. Your upper back strength also plays a big role in stabilizing the body. Your form needs to be perfect to keep your elbows up, and you must be doing them frequently. If you are comparing your front squat numbers to your back squat, you will be disappointed as the back squat is easier to add weight to.
Your Leg Muscles Are Weak
The quads are the main muscle group used during the front squat. If they are lacking, you will have a tough time doing them.
This is because holding the bar in front of you allows you to squat deeper, placing a lot of emphasis on the quads.
Strengthen the quads by doing leg press, leg extensions, and lunges. Goblet squats are also a great alternative if the front squat is too difficult. Hold a dumbbell in your hands and squat down, mimicking the form of the front squat.
The glutes are also a main muscle working during the front squat. Increase the strength of your glutes by doing hip thrusts, other squat variations, and glute isolation machines.
BONUS: Your upper back also plays a role in keeping the body upright throughout the movement. If your back is weak, you will find it very difficult to not tip forward and let your elbows fall.
Do any types of rows, deadlifts, and reverse flys to improve the muscles in the upper back.
If any of these muscle groups are weak, it can affect your front squat performance.
Your Form Isn’t Good
Perfecting your form will help you increase your front squat strength.
Start with the bar at your chest level and grasp it just outside shoulder width. The bar should be touching your upper chest and your fingers resting on the bottom of the bar with your palms facing up.
The backs of your hands will be resting against your upper chest with the barbell inside them.
When lowering into the squat, keep your elbows up, knees out, and heels planted on the ground.
Keep your spine neutral and chest and head up. Looking down will cause you to lean forward. Keeping your arms straight and elbows up will also help with this.
Don’t think of sitting back into the squat, but rather sitting straight down. This will also help keep you from tilting forward.
Consider your footwear. A flat heel is best for squats as it will give you a solid surface to push off of. If you are using cushioned soles, your ankles risk swaying back and forth, which can lead to injury.
The best choice is to invest in a pair of weight lifting shoes. While they can be expensive, I’ve found a cheap, yet high quality pair here. If not, any flat sole shoe will do!
You Haven’t Done Them Enough
If you are new to front squats, your leg muscles probably aren’t used to them yet. Until you’ve done them for a while, your muscles won’t be strong enough to recover from them as quickly.
Start doing more volume and adding them in more frequently. If you are doing them once or twice a week, you should find that your strength will be increasing.
Make sure you are progressively overloading by increasing reps, sets, or weight each session.
Try adding in pause reps where you pause at the bottom of the movement for a second or two. This will help with mobility and burn the muscles out a lot more.
Experiment with volume and intensity. One day do moderate volume and intensity. Then the next day you front squat, do low volume and high intensity. This is low reps of heavy weights and hitting your 1 rep max.
On your next session of front squats, try to do high volume and low intensity. That is, lighter weight and high reps to really burn out the muscles used.
You’re Comparing Them To Back Squats
A mistake many people make is comparing their front squat weight to their back squat. If you have been doing back squats for 2 years and just started front squats, they will obviously be less.
Furthermore, most peoples back squats are going to be heavier. That is because the front squat causes an inefficient load distribution of force.
There is also less of an emphasis on core stability in the back squat, making it easier to pile on the weight. Plus, you have to have a lot of mobility to get deep into the front squat position. A lot of people lack this.
The back squat is a great option for overloading your legs with heavy weight. The front squat is a great option for building hypertrophy in your quads and your upper back.
You shouldn’t compare lifts, because they use different muscles and require different things. Just keep trying to get stronger at that lift by progressively overloading and don’t compare it.
You Aren’t Warming Up Enough
Stretching before exercise is important for preventing injury and allowing you to perform the movement more efficiently
Stretching will increase flexibility and range of motion. This means you can get into a lower position when you squat.
Many people have issues with mobility, so stretching is key. It may be a good idea to stretch out your lats as they are important in the front squat as well.
Having better mobility in your lats will allow you to keep your elbows up during the movement, without them getting sore or tight and dropping.
Not only do you need to warm up your leg muscles, but it’s almost important to warm up your wrists and forearms. This is because a lot of pressure is placed on the wrists as they are helping hold the barbell in an awkward position.
How you are recovering will also play a big role in getting stronger at any lift. Make sure your nutrition and sleep are adequate so that your muscles can fully recover and rebuild.
Protein will rebuild your muscles after a tough workout, while carbs will provide you with enough energy to get you through your front squat workout.
Staying hydrated is also important to help your muscles function properly.