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Kettlebell Front Squat: Form, Variations and Benefits

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Last Updated on:

December 4, 2022
a woman performing Kettlebell Front Squat

The kettlebell front squat is a great exercise that works towards developing your legs, core muscles, lifting posture, reducing mechanical tension and improving your overall functional fitness. In this guide, we look at how the kettlebell front squat should be done, its benefits, what muscles it works and how you can incorporate it in your training program.

How to do The Kettlebell Front Squat

To do the kettlebell front squat, you should:

  • Start by placing the kettlebells on the floor or a high platform in front of you.
  • Get into a rack position and depending on where the kettlebells are placed, find the right stance.
  • If you are lifting the kettlebells from a high platform, lift them into the front rack position then find your stance. If the kettlebells are on the floor, lift both kettlebells, swing them back and then clean them into a rack position. Make sure that the kettlebells sit on the forearm and upper arm. 
  • For the perfect kettlebell front squat, your elbows should not be flared out to the sides but rather, have them close to your ribs and directly under your arms.
  • Before descending into a squat, make sure that you maintain a tall neutral spine. 
  • For a great lifting posture, squat down until your upper legs are slightly below parallel to the ground. 
  • There is no problem with your knees passing the toes as this position helps in maintaining your balance and can really activate the quads. 
  • Stand back up while still holding your kettlebells in front then repeat your previous position as many times as you want. 

Mistakes to avoid when performing the Kettlebell Front Squat

  • Make sure that your elbows are under your wrists. Do not have them up in-front of you as it is with a barbell front squat
  • Do not change your position when your knees appear to pass the toes. This is actually a great position as it gives you more balance. 
  • Always try to keep the weight over your mid-foot. 

What are the benefits of Kettlebell Front Squat

Builds size and strength

Kettlebell front squat is a great starting point towards building your size and strength. This is especially because it helps in reducing your overall body tension in the long term. As you move from a beginner to an intermediate exerciser, you should gradually use heavier dumbells so that your body can respond positively to the strength gains you’re making when exercising. 

Improves functional fitness

The kettlebell front squat as well as a number of similar exercises tends to be the cream of functional fitness. This is especially because functional fitness is all about stability, athleticism and being functionally strong. Through regular exercise with kettlebell, your body becomes more coordinated and better in general. For advanced lifters, you are able to perform movements that involve your full body without any assistance from machines. 

Improves lifting posture

The kettlebell front squat and other squat variations are a great way of maintaining the right lifting posture. By holding the kettlebells in front of you, you are constantly reminding yourself that you should always keep your chest up and your shoulders back.  

Requires minimal space

The front squat with light kettlebells requires very minimal space. You can carry on with your exercise while indoors. The exercise is a great alternative to exercising in a busy gym for experienced lifters where using some of the equipment is a little more difficult. 

Kettlebell Front Squat: what to keep in mind?

It’s Hard when using too heavy kettlebells

If you are suing heavier kettlebells, don’t get ahead of yourself when it comes to their weight. It’s not easy to see how difficult it can be to get into a double kettlebell squat until you actually do it. If you feel like testing your limits, use heavier loads but do it gradually. The kettlebell front squat is not the kind of exercise that you should do for a full body movement functional fitness exercise. 

Requires some experience

This exercise requires some experience especially when it comes to flexibility, stability, balance and the proper lifting form.  Before trying out this exercise, you should be able to do the goblet squat as well as moving the kettlebells into a front rack position. With some training however, you should be able to perform the kettlebell front squat with ease. 

Variations to the Kettlebell Front Squat 

Variations to the kettlebell squat include: 

Single kettlebell front squat

Just like the name suggests, this exercise involves performing the front squat with kettlebell with just a single kettlebell instead of two. One of the major benefits of trying this variation is that it challenges your core muscles and lateral stability. 

For an athlete who is all-rounded, this is a great option to maintain athletic abilities. While trying out the single kettlebell front squat, you need to maintain proper lifting form by ensuring that your shoulders are level while at the same time fighting the resistance of the kettlebells. 

Goblet squat

In a goblet squat, the weight should be in front of your chest and held with both hands as you move your kettlebells into positions. The front squat with kettlebell is considered as an advanced version of the goblet squat. This is perhaps the reason why it is recommended that you try out the goblet squat first before progressing to the front squat kettlebell level of the exercise. 

Banded front squat

A banded front squat is done by adding a resistance band to your squat. This increases the intensity of the squat exercise by working your upper body, core muscles and full body movement. Resistance bands are an excellent choice for replicating compound lifts without having to lift actual weights. This variation is done by standing on the band and lifting it to a front-rack position. You should then perform your squats while maintaining the same position. 

Dumbbell and barbell front squat

If you prefer using dumbbells instead of kettlebells, this too is a great variation to the front squat with kettlebell. The barbell front squat is also another variation that you might want to consider. However, you should know that both dumbbell and barbell front squats are much harder and involving because they allow you to move more weight.

Muscles Worked When Doing the Kettlebell Front Squat

The muscles worked in kettlebell squat include: 

Gluteus Maximus

This is the largest muscle that makes up most of the size and shape of your butt and hip muscles. It is part of the three main but muscles that also include the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximum plays a major role when it comes to performance and aesthetics. The muscle helps in maintaining the right posture. 

Quadriceps

The quadriceps is a group of muscles that comprises of rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedialis. The four muscles make up for most of the upper-leg mass. The quads are crucial during movement as they are responsible for flexing the hips and extending the knees during movements such as squats. The front kettlebell squat helps in building strong and more muscular quads. 

Calf muscles

Calf muscles make up for most of your lower leg mass. These muscles comprise of the gastrocnemius and soleus. The gastrocnemius is a visible muscle that is located just below the knee while the soleus is located deep in the gastrocnemius. The gastrocnemius is made up of fast-twitch fibers making it ideal for rapid movements while the soleus that comprises of slow-twitch fibers is perfect for endurance type of activities. 

Core muscles

The core muscles are the muscles around the mid-section area of the body that include the abs, the obliques, spinal erectors and deep core muscles. The most superficial among these are the abs that creates a six-pack appearance. Some of the functions of these muscles include crunching. The obliques on the other hand are responsible for twisting and rotating the torso. Then there is the back extensors that allow you to stand or lean backwards from a bent position. 

Hamstrings

The hamstrings are a group of muscles that consists of semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris.  The muscles are located at the back of the upper leg and play an important role in performing activities such as standing, sprinting and jumping. The hamstrings are also responsible for stabilizing the knee joints. 

How to Incorporate the Kettlebell Front Squat into Your Training?

Supersets

The front squat with kettlebell is the perfect combination with another superset. All you need to do is to pick an alternative exercise that works a different set of muscles then do a back-to-back with the kettlebell front squat. Rest for two to three minutes then repeat the superset with no rest in between. 

Standalone leg punisher

The standalone leg punisher works out your leg muscles, the front squat kettlebell exercise is the perfect option especially if you are looking to work out your leg muscles but don’t have the equipment to do so. 

CrossFit style workouts

If you are into crossfit, then you will no doubt benefit from the double kettlebell front squat. You can even create your own complex exercise with kettlebells and add it somewhere into your daily or weekly physical training schedule.

Is the kettlebell front squat to overhead press a great workout routine?

If you are looking for an exercise that promotes fat loss, then the kettlebell front squat to overhead press is one of the most effective workout routines especially for beginners. The exercise is performed in the same way you perform a typical kettlebell front squat only this time, you are required to drive the kettlebells above your head using your standing momentum. 

Kettlebell vs Goblet front squat: which one is a better squatting exercise?

The goblet front squat is a great starting point for beginners getting into squatting exercise. In this exercise, the kettlebell is held, chest high with both hands. This helps in improving your balance while in a squatting position. On the other hand, the front squat with kettlebell challenges on one side of your body more intensely than the other.

Kettlebell vs barbell front squat: which one is a better squatting exercise?

Barbell squats are considered a little easier because of the consistency of holding the bar across your shoulders unlike kettlebells where each kettlebell is held independently on either hand. If you are looking to build on your sheer strength and bulk in your legs, hips and butt muscles, barbell front squats are the perfect choice. 

About Julien Raby