No one is disputing this fact: Squats are one of the best exercises a person can do in the gym. They are consistently referred to in the same breath as deadlifts for the title of “King of All Exercises.” But as great as squats are, many students consistently ignore one of the best squat variations out there: the front squat.
The front squat is a compound exercise, meaning multiple joints and muscle groups are involved. Although it’s primarily a lower-body exercise, it’s really a full-body lift. Everything from your feet to your arms have to work together to perform this lift correctly.
The front squat engages your quads to a greater degree and, because of the more upright body positioning required, engages your core as well.
As a result, it’s important students understand the benefits of front squats. But not only that, it’s vital for rec centers to ensure they have the proper equipment to allow students to perform the exercise correctly and safely.
Take a look at your rec center’s fitness floor: Do you have the right equipment? And do you have enough of it?
Front squats are also much easier on your back and knees. Science shows you can work the same muscles targeted as the back squat, while saving the lower back and knees.
In fact, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded the front squat was as effective as the back squat in terms of overall muscle recruitment, with significantly less compressive forces and extensor movements.
The results suggest front squats may be advantageous compared with back squats for individuals with knee problems, such as meniscus tears, and for long-term joint health. This makes it more appropriate for older patrons that visit your facility — especially if they have limitations.
As a rec center, it’s important to educate your students on the right exercises and equipment that align with their goals. For those seeking to improve their overall strength, be sure to include the front squat in your suggestions.