When I front squat I tend to attempt to perform the same moment as the back squat, but with anterior loading. The only difference I have made from my back squat is I 'break' at the hips, rather than the knees - when I say this, I mean I try and initiate a break at the hips first, not isolate it. I try to do both simultaneously.

I also try to 'push my knees out', as I always was taught to do with a back squat. The cue I had been using (which I think I picked up from a Chris Duffin video was to 'screw my heels into the floor. I have transferred this to front squats. For clarity I have not front squatted extensively, it is a new movement for me. I had read you should treat anterior\posterior squatting moments the same (as far as the squatting movement is concerned).

Something I am doing is giving me minor knee pain, it feels as if it is on the inside of my knee. Am I right to be pushing my knees out? I tried not focusing on this and I think it felt better (but this was at the end of a session so I don't have much data). This morning I have read a couple of articles that suggest 'knees not in' makes more sense than 'knees out'.

Is it possible I am exaggerating 'knees out' and this causing me issues, but that it is more noticeable because of where I am loading with a front squat?

1 Answer 1


When I front squat i tend to attempt to perform the same moment as the back squat, but with anterior loading.

This is not how I front squat. Though quite related and quite similar, they are distinct movements. For instance, the back position and hip angle are extremely different, and they sometimes do best with different foot placement.

The "knees out" cue may indeed be the source of your pain, especially if you have been exaggerating that aspect of the movement. Though the cue is not necessarily wrong, it's not a goal in itself. The goals of the cue are to prevent the knees from collapsing inwards, to brace the knee musculature, to allow an upright back angle, and to allow the glutes to push the hips forward. I can certainly see tight glutes causing knee pain (or rounded lower back position, or forward lean...) with a "knees out" cue.

I'd focus on front squatting correctly according to the terms of front squatting, rather than trying to back squat while in a front squat position. I'd also experiment with different front squat stances and patterns while using an empty bar.

  • I find a lightly loaded bar is a bit better than the bar on it's own for getting into a good front rack position.
    – Alex L
    Feb 17, 2016 at 16:42
  • @AlexL I agree, but I'm wary of doing that while playing with stances and new positions in a new exercise. Feb 17, 2016 at 17:46
  • Having a good front rack is probably one of the most important aspects of front squatting. It can be the difference between getting hunched over with valgus collapse and a nice smooth squat.
    – Alex L
    Feb 17, 2016 at 18:23
  • @AlexL I agree if we change "good front rack" to "good bar position". I actually prefer to use a zombie squat with the bar deep on the shoulders rather than a true front rack position if I'm trying to figure something out with stance or movement pattern for the front squat. Feb 18, 2016 at 6:46
  • Using a 'Cossack'-style arm cross with thumbs hooked under the bar is a very comfortable position for me. How you grip the bar is all about personal preference.
    – John
    Oct 17, 2016 at 7:25

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