Master This Move: Loaded Front Squat

This move is a fixture in the strength-and-conditioning world, and it can be performed with a variety of weight options—including a dumbbell, medicine ball or barbell. A popular alternative to a back squat with a barbell, some would argue that the front squat with a barbell is a safer alternative because of less spinal compression and axial loading. This is a great strength movement that primarily works the entire anterior chain.

Tips for beginners: Begin practicing this movement with a dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ball. If progressing to using a barbell, it may be challenging to find the groove of where the barbell is placed along the shoulders. Ensure that the barbell is in a solid position with the elbows up to 90 degrees. This can be challenging for those who have previous shoulder and/or arm issues. Adequate hip movement and mobility will be required because you need to sit back while keeping the bar horizontal to the ground.

Best practices: Keep the dumbbell or other weight at shoulder height throughout the entire movement. When using a bar, make sure the bar is at a height that is easiest to take on and off the shoulder. Taking it on and off an apparatus that is either too high or too low will make it more challenging to find the proper setup, as well as become potentially dangerous in both lifting off and placing back down.

Front Squat

Make it easier: Place a box behind you that you can sit on and find on each rep or perform with no weight.

Make it harder: Graduate to using a heavy barbell. Slow down your tempo, decelerating for a count of five.

Photo and video credit: Tom Casey,

Model: Christine DiBugnara, 24 Hour Fitness