Front Squat Alternatives

The front squat is one of the most effective lower-body workouts since it strengthens your core and back while also boosting mobility. Front squats focus on many muscles that aid in daily activities and athletic performance. 

Many people look for alternatives because a standard front squat requires an additional front knee bend, which some people find challenging. In this article, we are going to go through some of the best alternatives for front squats.

What is a Front Squat?

front squat with a barbell
front squat with a barbell

A proper front squat is performed with a barbell. The barbell rests on the collarbone and the front side of the shoulders, elbows elevated, and the fingers are placed beneath the barbell pushing into your shoulders to maintain the barbell in place.

Front squats are an excellent workout for strengthening the lower body and core. Most people find the movement unusual at the beginning. This is due to the position of the bars on the front side of the body and the increased strain on the core to maintain a steady upright position. 

However, a proper squat lowers your chance of injury and improves your performance during workouts. 

Which Muscles are Worked During Front Squats?

a woman performing a front squat
a woman performing a front squat

When you perform a front squat, it nearly uses all your muscles in your lower body. However, it activates some of the upper body muscles to complete this workout perfectly.

These muscles can be categorized into two groups which are primary and secondary muscles.

  1. Primary Muscles

These are the main muscles that are worked during a front squat. 

  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings.
  1. Secondary Muscles

These are the core muscles that are triggered by a squat.

  • Erector spinae
  • Obliques
  • Transverse abdominis
  • Rectus abdominis. 

The Most Effective Front Squat Alternatives

kettlebell front squat
kettlebell front squat
  1. Smith machine front squat

The Smith machine front squat mainly activates your quad muscles and you do not have to worry about stabilizing the weight. This will probably be the most straightforward alternative for an individual.

The smith machine will assist you by supporting some weight and it will provide a squatting channel which makes the workout more convenient. This will keep the weight from becoming too heavy and aid in the development of the overall form.

To do this workout first you have to raise the bar as high as you can without allowing your shoulders to contact it. Set the desired weights on the machine and raise the bar by standing on your tiptoes. Twist it forward as you do so, release the catch and allow the bar to go up and down.

  1. Cross-arm front squat.

The cross-arm front squat alternative is nearly the same as the usual front squat. This would be great for anyone who prefers front squat but with lower wrist mobility necessary to get into the front rack posture.

Cross-arm front squat also needs a barbell, but compared to the usual front squat this method will be safer. The reason is the cross-arm which keeps the barbell steady and in place.

To complete this workout you need to put the barbell on the front of your shoulders, then cross your arms in front of you and take an overarm hold on the barbell inside your shoulders.

  1. Double kettlebell front squat.

A front squat with a double kettlebell is another alternative to the standard barbell squat that will be easy for people to perform the workout without any strain. Compared to a barbell this enables you to maintain a good grip on the weight.

A double kettlebell front squat can be performed in a rack position without requiring too much shoulder mobility. So you can get the advantages of the workout without having to adapt to a position that you can’t attain.  

To do a double kettlebell front squat you should lift the kettlebells to chest height and allow them to rest in a neutral wrist posture on your biceps, forearms, and shoulders. And then you can do the normal squat with the double kettlebell.

  1. Safety bar squat

Squatting with safety squat bars helps you develop your back, chest, arm, legs, and glutes while also reducing pressure on your shoulders and neck. This workout needs a special bar which many gyms lack.

The safety bar squat is a combination of a front squat and a high-bar squat. Because the weight is on your back and the barbell is resting on your upper traps, it's similar to a high-bar squat. However, because your elbows are forced to be up and front, it's similar to a front squat.

To perform this workout, place the safety bar in a high-bar position on your back. Make sure your core and upper back are engaged as you walk the weight out into your typical squat position. While squatting, pull on the grips to keep your elbows forward and maintain a “chest up-elbow up” stance.

  1. Zercher squats

The Zercher squat is one of the best alternatives recommended by many professional strong athletes, but also it’s considered the hardest among the other alternatives. 

However, even if you aren’t a professional athlete, you can still master this alternative because it will activate your core, balance, and lower body strength. 

Zercher squats are aimed to assist you in helping to reach good squat depth.

This workout is done by resting the barbell in the bend of your elbows rather than your shoulders as in a front squat. It relieves the strain on your wrist while increasing tension on the biceps and front delts. You will need a half rack to perform this workout with ease. 


Many of the front squat options suggested are excellent for both warm-up and high-intensity exercises. You'll be in a better position to feel confident and strong during the front squat once you've mastered these variants.

At this point, you are free to investigate alternative possibilities. If you've set up a home gym, all you'll need are dumbbells and barbells to complete the workouts described above. On our website, you can also look at the various home gym equipment.

If you enjoy working out at home, you will definitely need a home gym set up, and if you are looking for the finest equipment? You can check out our best budget squat racks, best squat stands, and best budget Olympic barbells.