How to Do A Kettlebell Front Squat

Kettlebell Front Squat

Squatting is a fundamental human movement that needs to be trained and maintained throughout your lifetime and the kettlebell front squat is the single best way to do it.

The thing that separates the kettlebell front squat from other squat variations is the degree to which it engages the rest of your body.

Although it looks like a lower body exercise, it works your shoulders, upper back and abs just as hard - building full body strength.

Whether you're squatting for mobility or squatting for strength, the kettlebell front squat does the job.

Here's a break down of how to do a kettlebell front squat and it's variations.

How to Do A Goblet Squat

The Goblet Squat is the first step in your squatting journey.

Popularized by Dan John, it's the best way to learn how to squat properly while also building strength and flexibility in the hips.

With the kettlebell being held out in front of you, it forces you into a good posture while squatting - making it very hard to squat incorrectly.

  • 1
    ‚ÄčSwing a kettlebell up to your chest and grab it by the horns.
  • 2
    Set up with your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes flared out slightly.
  • 3
    Take a big breath into your stomach and use your hip flexors to start pulling yourself into the bottom of the squat.
  • 4
    Keeping your chest tall and your back flat, descend as deep as you can, or until the points of your elbows hit the inside, meaty part, of your knee.
  • 5
    Sit up tall in the bottom position, making your spine as long as possible from your tailbone to your head.
  • 6
    Drive your heels through the floor and sharply exhale, with a grunt, as you stand straight up.
  • 7
    Your hips and shoulders should ascend at the same rate.
  • 8
    Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  • 9
    Park the kettlebell safely on the ground following a backswing.

How to Do A Single Kettlebell Front Squat

Once you've mastered a good squat pattern by training the Goblet Squat, it's time to dive into the Single Kettlebell Front Squat.

The Single Kettlebell Front Squat is a slightly different animal - the principles are the same but the demands of this squat variation are a little more complex.

Because the load is only on one side of your body, the weight is going to try to twist you - it's your job not to let it do that.

This generates a lot of tension through your core and works your abs much harder than the Goblet Squat.

  • 1
    Clean a kettlebell into the rack position - your wrist should be neutral, legs locked out, glutes squeezed, abs braced and shoulder blades pulled back and down.
  • 2
    Set up with your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes flared out slightly.
  • 3
    Take a big breath into your stomach and, without twisting, use your hip flexors to start pulling yourself into the bottom of the squat.
  • 4
    Descend as deep as you can while keeping your chest tall and your back flat.
  • 5
    Sit up tall in the bottom position, making your spine as long as possible from your tailbone to your head.
  • 6
    Drive your heels through the floor and sharply exhale, with a grunt, as you stand straight up.
  • 7
    Your hips and shoulders should ascend at the same rate.
  • 8
    Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  • 9
    Park the kettlebell safely on the ground following a backswing.

How to Do A Double Kettlebell Front Squat

The Double Kettlebell Front Squat is the big daddy of the lower body kettlebell lifts.

It's a lift that you can really load up to build strength in your legs, but it also works the shoulders, upper back and abs almost just as hard.

Holding two heavy kettlebells in the rack position and maintaining a strong posture while squatting is tough, so make sure you put in the time with the Goblet Squat and the Single Kettlebell Front Squat to dial in your form.

It's important to note that you need to pay attention to your stance here.

You'll need a wider stance to clean the kettlebells into the rack, then a narrower stance for the squats then you'll have to go back to a wider stance to park the kettlebells.

  • 1
    Clean a pair of kettlebells into the rack position - your wrists should be neutral, legs locked out, glutes squeezed, abs braced and shoulder blades pulled back and down.
  • 2
    Narrow your stance so your feet are about shoulder width apart and your toes flared out slightly.
  • 3
    Take a big breath into your stomach and use your hip flexors to start pulling yourself into the bottom of the squat.
  • 4
    Descend as deep as you can while keeping your chest tall and your back flat.
  • 5
    Sit up tall in the bottom position, making your spine as long as possible from your tailbone to your head.
  • 6
    Drive your heels through the floor and sharply exhale, with a grunt, as you stand straight up.
  • 7
    Your hips and shoulders should ascend at the same rate.
  • 8
    Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  • 9
    Widen your stance and park the kettlebells safely on the ground following a backswing.

Coaching Points

The kettlebell front squat is a relatively simple movement but there are a few key coaching points that I want to touch on that will improve your squat dramatically.

Stance

For the squat, everyone's stance will be slightly different based on the way they're built and their hip mobility, but there are a couple boundaries that you'll need to stay within.

The majority of people will be most comfortable with a shoulder width stance, but you can experiment with a slightly narrower stance and see how it feels.

I generally don't like to go any wider than shoulder width apart because it's hard on your hips and makes it tough to get your knees into a good position (in line with your toes as you squat).

Squatting with your feet pointed straight ahead isn't a good idea for most people, so you'll want to turn your toes out slightly - generally no more than about 30 degrees, again, so your knees are able to track your toes.

It's important to remember that when you set up for a Double Kettlebell Front Squat, you're going to have your feet wider than shoulder width to clean the kettlebells.

Make sure you narrow your stance for your set of squats, then widen your stance back out so you can drop the kettlebells into the backswing and park them.

Pull Yourself Into the Squat

When you squat, don't just give in to gravity and drop down and pop back up - you're going to use your hip flexors to pull yourself down into the bottom position of the squat.

This is more of a feeling than actually pulling yourself down but it's important to initiate the squat with your hip flexors because it stabilizes your pelvis and allows you to squat deeper.

Imagine laying on your back with someone grabbing your feet.

If you tried pulling your knees into your chest with them resisting - those muscles that engage on the top of the hips are your hip flexors.

You want to recreate that same feeling when you initiate the squat - pull yourself down instead of just dropping.

Maintain A Strong Posture

As you squat down, keep your chest tall and your back flat, trying to elongate your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head.

You're going to go as deep as you can while maintaining that posture, making sure you don't let your tailbone tuck under or your back round.

Again, you want to drive your knees outward as you squat, keeping your knees in line with your toes and not allowing them to cave inward.

And make sure you maintain this posture as you come out of the bottom of the squat - don't allow your hips to come up before your shoulders.

Power Breathing

Similar to the kettlebell swing, you'll use power breathing to make your squat stronger and more stable.

You're going to take a sniff or air in through your nose as you start to descend into the squat.

This is going to fill your lungs with air and create intra-abdominal pressure, which will help you maintain a strong posture and protect your back.

Pause in the bottom of the squat then sharply exhale, with a grunt, to initiate coming out of it - again, this creates abdominal pressure and helps you drive out of the bottom of the squat with power.

Wrapping Up

The squat is a fundamental human movement that needs to be trained regularly and the best way to do it is the kettlebell front squat.

Use the Goblet Squat to learn how to squat properly and to improve your hip mobility.

Then add some weight and train the Single and Double Kettlebell Front Squat to build stronger shoulders, a hard core and legs that won't quit.

Squat for mobility, squat for strength and squat for power - the kettlebell front squat has you covered.

In Strength and Health,

Dave

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