Once a technically correct squat can be performed, the front squat can be added to increase the demand on the core musculature. To perform a front squat, a barbell must be held in front of the torso. There are a few different ways this can be achieved, but we prefer the barbell to be held in the front rack position, as it assists in training the rack position needed during the clean.
The front rack position maintains the barbell on top of the deltoids, with the elbows raised up as close to parallel with the floor as possible. The hands are under the bar, but they are only there to pin the weight against the shoulders. The wrists should not bear any of the weight.
To get into the front rack, the weight must start in a squat rack if you are not cleaning it into position. Place your hands in a comfortable overhand position on the bar, just outside of the shoulders, then walk yourself to a position where your shoulders are underneath the bar. Drive your elbows up as high as you can to rotate your deltoids out ahead of your chest. The weight needs to rest on your shoulders and not on your clavicle, so the farther forward you can bring your shoulders, the better.
Before you take any of the weight with your body, be sure to contract your core tightly. The weight will feel a lot lighter if you do, and it’s a lot harder to maintain the correct body position if you allow the weight to squish down your body before you’ve tightened up.
Once you have tightened your core and stood up with the weight on your shoulders, take a couple steps back from the rack to allow yourself enough room to squat. If you need to bail out of the squat at any point (e.g. you lose your lower back position or just can’t make it out of the bottom), you bail by letting the weight drop forward while simultaneously pulling yourself backwards to prevent the bar from landing on your legs. Be sure to leave enough room between you and the rack so the weight won’t smash into the rack in case you have to drop it.
Once you have the weight racked, perform the squat exactly as you would an air squat. Extra emphasis must be put on keeping your chest raised high, with your elbows up as high as possible. This will keep the weight balanced over the middle of your feet, which is the most stable place for it. If you lean too far forwards, the leverage the weight has will put a huge amount of torque on your hip joint and you will find it much more difficult to hold onto the bar. One trick is to imagine that you are trying to slide your back up and down a vertical pole.
If you find you end up on the balls of your feet when you perform the front squat, odds are it is because you aren’t keeping your chest high enough and the weight is dragging you over. Lift your big toes up, think about keeping those hips back, and keep your back as vertical as possible with a high chest and raised elbows. This will go a long way towards keeping your form.