Incorporating squats into your weight training workouts will impact the strength in your lower body. The most common squat exercise is the back squat, in which the barbell rests on the back of your upper shoulders. The front squat, however, positions the bar at the front of your shoulders, which shifts the resistance load forward slightly.
Leg and Hip Strength
The quadriceps are a collection of four muscles at the front of your upper thighs. They take on most of the work during barbell front squats. The quadriceps, or quads, are responsible for extending your knees joints. Your glutes, the largest muscle in your buttocks, extends your hips as you come up into a standing position. The soleus muscle in your calves extends your ankle joints.
The strength gains you’ll get from barbell front squats transfer effectively to real-life performance as they closely mimic everyday movements. Regularly incorporating barbell front squats will make it easier for you to squat down to pick things up off the floor or to climb a staircase. Unlike squats, which are performed in a standing position, the leg press and other machine exercises typically position you in a lying position.
Preparation for Olympic Lifts
The barbell front squat places you in the same position as the catch phase of the hang clean exercise and the starting position of the jerk exercise. Both the hang clean and jerk are Olympic lifts, which develop explosive power in the lower body. Women athletes who require lower body power, such as volleyball and basketball players, often incorporate Olympic lifts in their training regimens. The barbell front squat prepares you for these Olympic exercises.
Less Stress on Shoulders
The back squat exercise requires you to stretch the front of your shoulders as you reach back and hold the barbell at the top of the back of your shoulders. Women who have issues with their shoulders may suffer discomfort and pain during back squats. Front squats, however, don’t require you to stretch your shoulder capsules and are therefore a safer choice for those who are interested in protecting their joints.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.