The dumbbell front squat is a highly underrated exercise, with it having a variety of advantages over its barbell counterpart.
But what makes this exercise stand out, and how do you perform it optimally?
These are good questions, and we are going to be answering them today.
Let’s get right into it and take a look at how to perform the dumbbell front squat, the benefits that come from performing the dumbbell front squat, and some expert tips to help you along the way.
How to Do the Dumbbell Front Squat Step By Step
Step 1 — Clean the Dumbbells
To start the dumbbell front squat, you’ll need to clean the dumbbells into the front rack position.
Begin by holding the dumbbells with an overhand grip and letting them hang at your sides.
Engage your core, squat down slightly, and explosively extend your hips and shrug your shoulders to generate momentum.
As the dumbbells rise, quickly drop underneath them and catch them at shoulder height with your elbows pointing forward.
Step 2 — Set Your Stance and Brace
Once you have the dumbbells in the front rack position, establish a comfortable and stable stance.
Position your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward.
Engage your core, brace your abs, and maintain a tall, upright posture throughout the exercise.
Step 3 — Lower to the Bottom Position
Initiate the squatting motion by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Keep your torso upright and your chest lifted.
Lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly below. Aim for a full range of motion while maintaining control and stability.
Step 4 — Stand Up to Lockout
From the bottom position, drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees simultaneously to stand up.
Maintain proper form and ensure that your knees track in line with your toes. Once you reach the top, fully extend your hips and squeeze your glutes.
Dumbbell Front Squat Mistakes to Avoid
Allowing Your Elbows or Chest to Drop
One common mistake in the dumbbell front squat is letting your elbows or chest drop forward.
This can compromise your form and put unnecessary stress on your shoulders and lower back.
Keep your elbows high and chest lifted throughout the movement to maintain an upright posture.
Low Back or Trunk Leaning Excessively Forward
Leaning excessively forward with your low back or trunk can also lead to poor form and potential injury.
Focus on keeping your torso upright and your core engaged to promote proper alignment and stability.
This will help distribute the load evenly and protect your lower back.
Another mistake is not achieving sufficient depth in the squat. Make sure to squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground or slightly below.
Going through a full range of motion helps engage the targeted muscles and maximize the benefits of the exercise.
How to Progress the Dumbbell Front Squat
Increase the Weight
To progress the dumbbell front squat, gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells you’re using.
Gradually challenging your muscles with heavier loads will stimulate growth and strength development over time.
Start with lighter weights and gradually work your way up as you feel comfortable and confident in maintaining proper form.
Increase the Repetition Volume
Another way to progress is by increasing the repetition volume.
This means performing more sets and/or reps of the dumbbell front squat during your workouts.
You can gradually add more sets or increase the number of repetitions per set to challenge your muscles further and promote muscular endurance and hypertrophy.
Benefits of the Dumbbell Front Squat
Quadriceps Muscular Growth
The dumbbell front squat targets the quadriceps muscles, located at the front of your thighs.
By squatting through a full range of motion, you can effectively stimulate muscle growth and development in the quadriceps, leading to stronger and more defined leg muscles.
Spares the Low Back
Compared to exercises like the back squat, the dumbbell front squat places less stress on the lower back.
The front-loaded position of the dumbbells shifts the load to the front of your body, reducing the strain on your back muscles.
This makes it a suitable alternative for individuals with lower back issues or those looking to vary their training routine.
A Forgiving Front Rack
The front rack position in the dumbbell front squat allows for a more forgiving grip compared to barbell front squats. It can be easier to maintain proper form and comfortably hold the dumbbells in position.
This makes the exercise accessible to a wider range of individuals and provides a great option for those who struggle with barbell front squats.
Muscles Worked by Dumbbell Front Squat
The quadriceps, located in the front of your thighs, are the primary muscles targeted in the dumbbell front squat. They play a significant role in extending your knees as you rise from the squatting position.
Glutes and Other Hip Extensors
The glutes, along with other hip extensor muscles such as the hamstrings and adductors, are heavily engaged during the dumbbell front squat. They work to extend your hips and provide stability and power as you stand up from the squat.
Postural Muscles and Core
The dumbbell front squat also activates your postural muscles and core. These include the erector spinae muscles of the back, the abdominals, and the obliques. These muscles help maintain an upright posture and stabilize your spine throughout the movement.
How to Program the Dumbbell Front Squat
Low to Moderate Weight, Moderate to High Repetitions
This programming style focuses on muscular endurance and hypertrophy. Choose a weight that allows you to perform around 8-12 repetitions with proper form. Perform 2-4 sets of this exercise, allowing enough rest between sets to recover.
Moderate Weight, Moderate Repetitions
If your goal is to build strength and power, opt for heavier weights and lower repetitions. Aim for around 6-8 repetitions per set with a weight that challenges you. Perform 3-5 sets, allowing adequate rest between sets for optimal recovery.
Dumbbell Front Squat Variations
Heels-Elevated Dumbbell Front Squat
The heels-elevated dumbbell front squat is one of the best dumbbell squat variations.
Elevating your heels on weight plates or a small platform can increase the emphasis on your quadriceps and challenge your balance. This variation is particularly useful if you have limited ankle mobility.
Dumbbell Goblet Squat
The dumbbell goblet squat, also known as the single dumbbell squat, is a great dumbbell front squat variation.
Hold a single dumbbell vertically in front of your chest, gripping it by one end.
This variation is excellent for beginners or those working on improving their squat form, as it helps promote an upright posture and proper squat mechanics.
Dumbbell Zercher Squat
If you are looking for a front squat alternative with dumbbells, the dumbbell Zercher squat is going to be your best friend.
Hold the dumbbells in the crooks of your elbows, with your forearms crossed in front of your body. This variation shifts the load slightly forward and increases activation in your core and upper back muscles.
If you prefer a more traditional squat, you can perform the dumbbell back squat or the dumbbell sumo squat. These variations engage the same muscle groups as the dumbbell front squat but with a different emphasis on balance and stability.
Dumbbell Front Squat – FAQs
What Do Dumbell Front Squats Work?
Dumbell front squats primarily work the glutes and quads.
They also work calves, abs, and shoulders to a much lesser extent.
What Is The Difference Between A Goblet Squat And A Front Squat With Dumbbells?
The difference between a goblet squat and a front squat with dumbbells is the position of the weight.
Goblet squats involve holding a weight in front of your chest, while a front squat with dumbbells involves holding weights above your shoulders.
Why Are Dumbbell Front Squats So Hard?
Dumbbell front squats are so hard because your entire body has to work just to maintain your position.
Dumbbell front squats are a compound exercise that recruit a ton of different muscle groups, and this makes them much more physically taxing than other exercises.
Is It Ok To Squat With Dumbbells?
Yes, it is ok to squat with dumbbells.
As long as you incorporate progressive overload, doing squats with dumbbells can be just as effective as doing squats with barbells.
We hope we have been able to help you.
The dumbbell front squat is a fantastic exercise that deserves much more attention, and if you decide to include it in your routine, you will not regret it.
For more fitness advice, head over to MovingForwards.
See you next time.