Posture is a big, messy topic. I’m only going to scratch the surface here, and then relate that to front squats.
Here’s whether front squats improve your posture:
Front squats might contribute to what some people perceive as good posture, but probably not.
I’m really sorry if that reads like nonsense. Let me try again:
There’s no clear answer.
Before we begin: let’s get clear on posture
What is posture?
There’s no universal definition here.
Let’s go with posture as the way you’re holding your body in space. It’s a mix of gravity, habits, reflexes, choices, and adaptations to the environment.
Given that we never stop moving or doing different things, this isn’t something one can easily point at and say “Yes, that’s it! That’s good posture!”
What is poor posture?
It’s tempting to overlay aesthetic ideals on posture.
Standing up straight, not hunching over when sitting, not rounding your back when you deadlift, that kind of thing.
But is this “poor” if it’s not causing pain? Maybe not.
After all, what are we trying to avoid when we seek to improve our posture? It’s usually pain that we are trying to prevent or get away from.
So we could agree that poor posture is posture that is causing you pain, either acutely or chronically.
What is good posture, then?
Well, there’s the issue. If the posture is not causing you pain, then you could say that literally anything else is good posture.
Should we correct our posture?
First off, if posture can change at a moment’s notice voluntarily, is there anything to correct? I can sit up straighter right now.
If I do that for too long, my back starts to hurt. If I return to a more rounded position, my back stops hurting.
Secondly, how do we know that making long term changes will result in a good outcome? What happens if we spend months forcing the body to make an adaptation, then we are left with chronic pain?
Thirdly, is there anything to correct? Are you in pain? Who told you that your posture needs correcting? What was their motive for saying so?
You’ll notice I’m asking more questions than providing answers here.
What is good posture while front squatting?
Okay, now here is where I can provide some guidance, based on the specific demands of the movement.
- When you front squat, the barbell is racked across the top of the shoulders and the collar bone.
- The torso is fairly upright, but not vertical, as one sits between their legs.
- The elbows remain high such that the back of the arms are close to perpendicular to the floor throughout.
- The back remains rigid and does not flex or fold as you descend.
- The feet remain flat and the barbell is balanced over the middle of the foot throughout the movement.
- The fingers are not trapped between the bar and the shoulders.
- Ideally, you will maintain as close to a full grip on the bar as you can. A fingertip grip results in a more acute wrist angle, which is often the source of complaint for wrist pain.
Can Front Squats Help Improve Your Posture?
Given the complexity of the topic, there’s no clear answer here.
The case in favour of front squats would be that if you are forced to maintain an upright torso, resisting against a load pulling you forward, this will help certain muscles in your back grow.
This is absolutely true! Your mid-back, in particular your rhomboids, benefit greatly.
So if you can maintain an upright torso, that’s great. But what if you have an overly hunched, rounded, kyphotic mid-back?
In this case, you’re not able to extend your thoracic spine, as much as you would like. So when you front squat, this won’t change! All you’ll be doing is reinforcing the end range of your currently available movement.
And if you are stuck in anterior pelvic tilt (duck butt) and you front squat in this manner, you will only exacerbate the problem.
If there’s accompanying pain, with a particular restriction, you could exacerbate the problem by repeatedly forcing yourself into a position that reinforces the pattern.
This is true of any exercise or habitual pattern. If you constantly crane your neck downwards to your phone, your body will adapt to that.
So it’s a bit of a catch 22. In order to reinforce a posture, you have to be able to get into the posture in the first place. If you can already assume the position you want, you don’t have a restriction.
Are Front Squats Better Than Back Squats For Improving Your Posture?
The body adapts to what you give it. You may find that specialising in one movement can limit your ability to access the other over time.
It’s very common for powerlifters to loathe front squats because their training tightens them up in ways that make front squatting painful, for instance.
Are there other ways to improve your posture?
Your body adapts to what you give it.
In weightlifting, micro tears in the shoulder cause long term trauma that allow for unusual internal rotation. Highly desirable for weightlifting, useless for everything else.
Forced stretching in young people may result in permanent tissue deformations that create abnormal flexibility into later years.
these might be desirable for gymnastics or dancing, but lead to joint instability further down the line.
Posture at any given moment is the result of so many factors, some of which are outside of your conscious control. I hate to give you an airy-fairy answer, but it may be about awareness of movement.
The only thing I’ve anecdotally found to give me more movement options and greater awareness of my body in space is Hanna Somatic Movement Education.
Hanna Somatics is an offshoot of Feldenkrais. If you have a postural problem that is also causing pain, I would start here.
The above recommendation is based on the subjective experience of one person. Even though it’s a movement practice and nothing medical, still consult a doctor yada-yada.
Thanks for reading this long and winding article! I hope I’ve encouraged you to think differently about the term posture, compared to the conventional definitions.
I’ve been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve gained 30 pounds of muscle, written hundreds of articles, and reviewed dozens of fitness supplements. As for my educational background, I’m a currently studying for my Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.