First Time Front Squatters and Squat Progressions

August 1, 2012 by danny · 8 Comments 

If you want to improve your strength, power, and performance for a sport, squats are great!  If you want to lose fat or gain muscle to help make you look sexier, squats are great.  If you want to improve your mobility and stability, squats are great.  The problem is, most people don’t take the time to learn how to perform them correctly.

My progressions with newer lifters usually look like this…

#1) Learn the goblet box squat
#2) Learn to goblet squat without the box to sit on (if that is “not working” go to #3, then come back and master #2).
#3) Learn to barbell box squat with the bar on your back
#4) Learn to front squat
#5) Learn to back squat

Goblet Squats

These phases are not set in stone and some people may never get to back squatting while others may be ready to back squat pretty much from the get-go.

This past week I had a few of my athletes (all basketball players) learn the front squat (and one is now just learning how to goblet box squat).  It may take weeks or even months before going to the next step.  The key is NOT to rush things.  You’ll have plenty of time to get more advanced and add load.  But MAKE SURE to learn how to squat the right way FIRST… then worry about adding load later.

The first video is of Liz and Michael…

Liz is preparing for her freshman year of basketball at Lehigh.  We actually did barbell box squats today for the first time.  Although she still has a little work to make them better, for her first time, she did very well.  By the time she leaves for school in a few weeks, we’ll have barbell back squats down and I’m sure her Strength Coach at Lehigh will be pleased (as back squats are in their training program).

This was Michael’s very first set of front squats, and I thought he did very well.  He is mobile/stable enough to get a couple inches lower (as I’ve seen him get that depth with goblet squats), but I didn’t want to force the range of motion on his very first set of front squats.  Soon, he’ll be adding weight to the bar and be a stud!

Next up, Paige and Paityn…

Paige has already goblet squatted, back squatted and front squatted.  She’s a pretty “natural” squatter.  I took a little longer with Paityn because she has had a tendency to let her knees cave.  So I didn’t want her front squatting and performing any more difficult squatting variations until she started to “nail” goblet squats and box squats.  Well, she has gotten good at those variations, and for a first time front squatter, she also did very well.  Like Michael, she has a couple inches of depth in her, and we’ll get to that next week.

Once you are ready (if ever) to deep back squat, John Alvino has a very good video with all the tips/cues necessary to become a good squatter…

There are so many benefits to squatting, but make sure to take your time progressing.

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8 Responses to “First Time Front Squatters and Squat Progressions”
  1. Love it & a great informational & learning post! So few do front squats! When they do, they don’t realize they have ti use lighter weight. ;-)

    • danny says:

      I agree Jody… people need to check their ego at the door and master form before they worry about how heavy the weight is. Especially with a movement like a squat!

  2. Great post! Everyone should squat! I can not get the bar on me to front squat. I need someone to teach me one day. But the back squat is my favorite.

    • danny says:

      Thank you!

      Yeah, getting the bar “racked” across the shoulder can be difficult. And at first you feel like you are being choked… but that feeling goes away and with practice it becomes just like riding a bike.

      Just remember to get your elbow high. Actively drive them up so that your shoulders take the load rather than your wrist.

      If that still doesn’t work, maybe the “genie” grip will work better for you. Shown here …

  3. Great post! I love squats and how many muscle groups you can work with them. I’m particularly a fan of the goblet squat, which you highlighted in the post. Proper form is key to remember when performing any squat to receive the most benefit.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Squats are my absolute favourite workout especially combined with dumbbells or barbells. They work the best part of your body and just about anyone can do one, but most people do it WRONG. So thank you for this insight. It’s perfect!

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