Front Squat to strengthen the core

This week marks the final phase in Eric Cressey’s Show and Go lifiting program that the staff at Endeavor has been using. After the first lower body day in the first week of a four week phase I can say that my core is crushed. Why? It is always a mixture of things, but doing 4 sets of 1 reps (near maxing out) followed by 1 set of 4 reps will do it on the front squat. Rarely do you ever see people doing front squats in a normal gym but it is one of those movements that is an amazing core strength exercise because the placement of the bar (on the frontside of the body) forces your torso upright, thus activating your abs in an anti-flexion pattern. The front squat is also a great choice for those who may have impingement problems at the shoulder. However, it would not be a good choice for those with AC joint problems because the bar position will cause some very uncomfortable pressure directly on the AC joint.
Another added benefit to front squatting is that it is more back friendly than the back squat because the compressive forces are now less because of the bar placement.
There are 2 grips that can be utilized to perform the front squat.
* Clean Grip: which needs good wrist mobility in order to get the elbows pointing forward.
* Crossover Grip: As seen below, the elbows need to stay up THE ENTIRE TIME and the bar needs to rest on the “grooves” in your shoulders to prevent the bar from falling forward.
*You can modify the clean grip if you do not have the best wrist mobility by using straps.

At Endeavor, we tend to teach the crossover grip because a lot of athletes (even most people) would have a difficult time using the clean grip. The modified grip is one that I have never used but everyone who uses it really likes it.

Modified Clean Grip with straps

Clean Grip

Cross over Grip


Tremendous front squat. I only hope to get that soon! But notice how the elbows are always pointing ahead. So, a main take home message from this would be that doing core exercises are great but to incorporate the core into a movement (where it really counts) is absolutely necessary.



Categories: Core Training, Strength Training

2 replies

  1. Matt-Some people may disagree with me here, but given the direction of the load vector in front squats, I think the core comes into play more as a generator of stiffness to stabilize the torso and transfer force from the hips/lower body through to the bar than as an anti-flexor. Just a thought. Keep up the great work!

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