How To Do Front Squat Alternative

+ Font Size -

 The front squat is an excellent exercise for increasing lower-body strength and bulk, particularly in the quads, as well as core strength...BUT, it's not an easy exercise to master. The major reason individuals struggle with the front squat is that it's difficult to hold and maintain position with the bar in front of you as you squat, especially when working with higher loads. Other difficulties with the front squat include maintaining your body erect, but this is primarily a matter of core strength.

The front squat is an excellent exercise for increasing lower-body strength and bulk, particularly in the quads, as well as core strength...but it's not simple to master. The major reason individuals struggle with the front squat is that it's difficult to grasp and maintain in position while squatting with the bar in front of you, especially when lifting higher loads. Other difficulties with the front squat include maintaining your body erect, but this is mostly a core strength issue.

How To Do Front Squat Alternative


Front squats are usually done with a barbell in the front rack position, which means the barbell is resting on the front side of the shoulders and along the collar bone area, with the elbows lifted and the fingers underneath the barbell pushing into the shoulders to keep the barbell in place.

The front squat is an excellent lower-body and core-strengthening exercise. Most people, though, find it an odd action at first. This is due to the position of the bars on the front side of the body and the increased strain on the core to keep the body upright. As a result, most people will begin with a substantially smaller weight load than they did with a barbell.

Poor wrist and shoulder mobility is another major issue with the front squat. Many people have problems keeping their elbows parallel to the floor, which is necessary to keep the barbells in place. Wrist pain is also prevalent, as the wrist is bent backwards in the front racked position, resulting in a restriction of wrist movement.

The front racked position that we just discussed is also known as a clean position. This is the stance utilized in Olympic lifting's clean exercise, which is one of the two Olympic lifts.

Overall, learning and being comfortable with the front rack (aka clean) position takes time, which is why there are different grip options for front squatting.

The following are the three primary gripes:

  • Position of the Rack (aka Clean)
  • Cross-Handle (arms crossed)
  • Hold with a strap or a towel (using straps or towel to assist your grip)

The ultimate goal, regardless of the grip you start with, is to be able to do the rack position grip, as the others are just workarounds.


A squat, in any variant, is a compound movement, which means it engages many muscle groups and affects numerous joints at the same time. The quadriceps are a big contributor to the muscles exercised in a front squat, but what additional muscles are involved? Let's take a look at what we've got.

The glutes, quads, and hamstrings are all working hard in a squat as they power hip and knee flexion and extension. A strong and functional squatting pattern is powered by these muscles.

Secondary muscles: These secondary squatting muscles are just as significant as the primary ones, although being less well-known. The gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis anterior all influence ankle mobility and range of motion, while the rectus abdominis and erector spinae assist in maintaining good posture during a front squatting (which should have your torso in an upright position) The lats, trapezius, deltoids, pecs, and serratus anterior are all recruited to assist stabilize your upper body during the front squat.


Front squats are a great exercise to include in your lifting practice. They help to strengthen the core and subsequent stabilizers as well as build muscle, strength, endurance, and power throughout the lower body.

The following are some of the most important advantages of front squats:

Front Squats Increase Coordination, Balance, and Stability: Front squats improve overall coordination, balance, and stability. In a front squat, your core must work overtime not just to keep your body upright throughout the movement, but also to keep the barbell in your front rack from sliding off or rolling forward.

If the front squat is a new exercise for you, another benefit to consider is that you can rapidly get out from underneath the bar. If you become "stuck" with other motions, it can be more difficult to complete a repetition, however with the front squat, you can easily drop the bar on the floor in front of you if you can't complete a repetition.

Easier on the Low Back: When compared to a back squat, some people believe that a front squat is less likely to strain the lower back. Because your torso is more upright in a front squat than in a back squat, it might divert some of your attention away from your lower back - even though your core must still fire heavily to maintain appropriate form and technique. While the front squat is more difficult to master, it is typically thought to be the safest option when compared to the back squat.

The front squat is an excellent technique to target your quads. Back squats activate the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes more evenly, but front squats emphasize the quads more because the bars are positioned higher and your torso is more upright, allowing for a larger range of motion at the knees, which the quads act on.

Crossfit & Olympic Lifting: The front squat is a must-know activity for anyone entering into Olympic lifting or Crossfit. It is a key component of one of the two Olympic lifts used in competition, and it is frequently utilized in Crossfit.


You might not think that the grip you use in a front squat is relative, but in order to move effectively in a front squat, you must find one that works for you, your mobility, and your programming!

There are several techniques to obtain your grasp around the barbell in order to complete a front squat correctly, aside from being in the ideal mechanical posture for the front squat.

When squatting, the front rack posture, which is the proper technique to front squat and is required for a variety of workouts (including any clean variant), is difficult to get into and hold, not to mention painful. There are, thankfully, methods for learning and mastering the front rack position.

Let's imagine you want to learn the front rack grip while doing a front squat. That's where the front squat's additional grip options come into play.

Essentially, you want to nail down the front squat movement pattern and perfect form first, which means you can use a grip that works for you, and then you can concentrate on reaching the front rack grip once you've done that (or in the meanwhile) (assuming you are using another grip to start).

The three grips for a front squat, as noted before in the text, are:

  • Cross-Grip Strap 
  • Towel Hold in Front Rack Position

We won't go over each grip individually.


The barbell is held in the same precise area along your shoulders in the cross-grip front squat (also known as the crossed arm grip or bodybuilder grip). However, as you place your hands on the bar at the opposite shoulder, your arms will cross in front of your torso.

The cross-grip allows you to effortlessly maintain your elbows up, allowing your torso to remain upright. There should be no problems with mobility here. If there are no current shoulder joint difficulties, almost any beginner can do this grip.

The disadvantage of the cross-grip is that the bar will feel less sturdy, limiting your ability to lift greater loads. Nonetheless, it is a feasible choice for those just starting out.


  • Position the barbell at the front of your shoulders in the squat rack and cross your arms with palms facing down toward the ground; your hands should go near the opposite shoulders, pressing down on the barbell to keep it in place.
  • Unrack the barbell and step back a few steps to review your grip and barbell posture. Ascertain that it is as stable as feasible.
  • With the crossed arm grip, you'll need to maintain your elbows and arms up high and your torso erect in order to keep the barbell in the front rack position.


  • The most common problem with the crossed arm grip is that the upper back tends to round; thus, focus on retracting the shoulder blades and maintaining high elbows while keeping your core engaged and your look forward.
  • Before adding weight, practice front squats with an empty barbell.


The barbell is held above your collarbone and on the front side of your shoulders with the shoulders contracted and elbows raised in the front rack grip (so your triceps are parallel with the floor). All of this is accomplished while the upper body stands tall and the lower body lowers into a squat - a tough movement, to say the least!

This is the conventional way to hold the barbell for front squats, often known as the clean grip. While this grip will feel the most stable, allowing you to employ bigger loads (in the long run), it does offer drawbacks, particularly in terms of wrist mobility. It's difficult to flex your wrist back while maintaining your grip.


You can either remove the barbell from a squat rack or clean it off the floor to get into the front rack position for your front squats. Take it from a rack rather than cleaning it if you're new to the front rack position.

Once you have the bar in your hands, position it across your shoulders with your hands shoulder-width apart. Fingers will be underneath the barbell and palms will be facing upward toward the ceiling (against your shoulders).

Although it may feel as if the barbell is pressing against your neck, it only has to roll back far enough on your shoulders so that your elbows remain at shoulder height. In the front rack position, your triceps should be parallel to the floor, which helps retain the barbell in the rack position by creating a shelf on the shoulders. You can even raise your shoulders to get the bar off your collarbone and prevent pressing too hard into your neck, making it more comfortable.

With a front squat, you don't need a total grasp on the barbell, which means your hands aren't wrapped around it like you would for a bent-over row. Instead, use your fingers to stabilize the barbell while using your elbows (combined with an erect torso) to maintain it on your shoulders. The front rack position will not operate until your elbows are elevated. As you squat down, your upper back will round forward, and the bar will likely roll forward off your shoulders.

The front rack position can be difficult to achieve, especially if you're not used to loosening your hold on the barbell when weight is added or if your elbows don't move very high owing to a lack of mobility. In any case, you want to be able to confidently hold the weight in the front rack without sacrificing your core engagement or high elbow posture! Because a tight, complete hold on the barbell might lead the elbows to sink down as you squat, it's important to maintain a slightly open grip on the bar during front squats and master the movement's signals.


  • Never put yourself in a front rack position when you're not ready. Warm up your wrists, elbows, and shoulders regularly.
  • Work on your wrist and shoulder mobility! Mastering the front rack position necessitates this.
  • To begin, practice your front rack stance using an empty barbell or a PVC pipe. Before adding any considerable weight, work on completing front squats with a proper front rack position throughout the entire set (this applies to those who are already strong!). It's a mobility issue rather than a strength one).

Practice Front Rack Grip: If you're having problems with the front rack position, don't be shocked; it's a very common problem. Surprisingly, the best front rack mobility drill is the front rack position itself! Start with an empty bar, then add some low weight plates and focus solely on standing with the bar in the front rack position, full fingers on the bar, and elbows up. You can even work on your grip and elbow height while the barbell is still racked in the squat rack, and then unracked later. Overall, this will provide you with long-term mobility and postural tolerance.

However, there are several front rack mobility drills you can do as well. Working on upper back strength is another thing you should do! When it comes to maintaining your torso upright while squatting, it will be your weak link. If you keep your elbows up high in the front rack position, this becomes less of an issue.


For those who desire a very stable grip for front squats but have restricted wrist movement, using a strap or towel to hold the barbell is a suitable choice. This is a popular choice for folks who are more interested in reaping the benefits of the front squat with bigger loads than in learning the front rack posture.

Your arm position will be similar to that of a rack, but your hands will be clutching the straps rather than the bar, removing shoulder and wrist mobility concerns. To keep your elbows up this manner, you simply need a smaller range of motion.


The setup is similar to that of the front rack position, with the exception that you need wrap your straps or towel around the barbell before starting. With this grip, you'll never be able to clean the barbell off the floor, which should be evident. So, it all starts with a squat rack and a barbell.

If you're using straps, make sure the flat end of the strap goes through the loop. Whether you're using a towel or straps, make sure they're tightly tied to the barbell before you start, with your hands around shoulder-width apart.

Grip the straps by bringing your hands under the barbell and back up — your elbows should still be pointing to the ceiling.

You'll need to adjust your position as needed to perform your front squats from here.


Do not wrap the towel or strap around your fingers or hands - you must be able to safely drop the barbell if you need to drop it or if you are in the middle of a rep failure.

Maintain shoulder height with your elbows and avoid curving your upper back.


There are various pieces of exercise equipment you may use instead of a barbell if you still want to incorporate front squats into your lifting practice. Using the barbell removed, the routine will look a little different, but you can still develop the quadriceps and glutes and increase core stability tenfold with alternative devices.

Dumbbells: There are two ways to practice front squats with dumbbells: goblet squat (one dumbbell held in front and center near your chest) or two dumbbells (held up at the front of your shoulders in a sort of front rack position). The latter is the more difficult dumbbell squat variation, but both are excellent dumbbell exercises.

Kettlebells: Kettlebells are another great piece of equipment that can be utilized in the same way as dumbbells - goblet or front rack. However, due to the kettlebell's construction, maintaining a front rack position should be a little more comfortable.

Sandbags: If you don't have access to traditional gym equipment and want to add some resistance to your front squats, a sandbag will suffice! The handles on most sandbags can be utilized to clean the sandbag into your front rack. The front squat would be executed as described above, with the elbows remaining high. Then, when you're done, return the sack to the floor.


There are many of exercises to select from if you're focusing on wrist and shoulder mobility (or simply want a different option than front squats). These exercises will still focus leg strength and core stability, and they may be incorporated into your workout in a variety of ways.

Based on the following criteria, the following exercises were considered as front squat alternatives:


Include a squatting movement pattern as a leg workout that also strengthens the core.

This implies they can take the place of the front squat in your workout (we highlighted** the finest possibilities in our opinion).

Last Word

The front squat is a great compound activity for almost any lifting program, and getting the right grip is crucial. When it comes to the grip you wish to utilize on the barbell, practice makes perfect... Mobility and flexibility exercises, especially in the wrists and upper body, may need to be added to your regimen to help you fully nail the front rack grasp that you need to attain your goals. Remember that the mechanics of the front squat remain the same whether you use a front rack grip, a cross arm grip, or straps!

write a comment