The Kettlebell Front Squat is one of the most fundamental kettlebell exercises.
Whether you are looking to burn fat, increase muscle, maintain good joint health or improve your cardio the kettlebell front squat is a great choice.
Let’s take a look at what this important exercise has to offer:
What are Kettlebell Front Squats Good for?
The kettlebell front squat is a full body exercise that can be performed with either one kettlebell or two.
The greatest muscle activation occurs in the hips, legs, buttocks and core muscles but the exercise will be felt all over the body.
Here are the main benefits of the kettlebell front squat:
- Activates the often lazy buttock muscles
- Increases hormonal responses through the body for better growth
- Improves core strength and stabilisation unlike the back squat
- Develops better joint health through regular pumping of nutrients
- Speeds up metabolism for fat burning 24/7
- Challenges cardio without the need to move your feet
The squat is a vital human movement pattern that is used in daily life whether getting in and out of your car or sitting and standing from a chair.
The ability to squat, and squat well, will be magnified through your daily life making regular tasks easier and pain free.
How to Perform the Single Kettlebell Front Squat
The kettlebell front squat can be performed with one kettlebell or two, all beginners should start with one kettlebell first.
Clean the kettlebell to the racked position against the chest. Beginners can use two hands to lift the kettlebell up and into this position.
When in the racked position allow the elbow to tuck in and against the chest. Keep the wrist straight and kettlebell against the chest.
Relax in this position keeping the shoulder down and away from the ear.
Don’t wing your elbow out to the side or allow the kettlebell to drift forwards off the chest. If this happens your shoulder will get tired quickly and even worst may result in an injury to your rotator cuff muscles.
From the racked position you perform a regular high quality squat movement.
Sit back into your heels keeping them in contact with the floor at all times. Imagine you are sitting back into a chair.
Continue your descent until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Stop at the bottom position and pause for 3 seconds before pushing the floor away from you and standing up.
At the top position squeeze your buttocks tightly together and don’t lean backwards.
If during the squat exercise your shoulder does begin to fatigue then you can use your opposite hand to help support the kettlebell.
Many people have weak buttocks and hips and therefore tend to find their knees caving in towards each other during the squatting movement. You must work hard to prevent this from happening by pushing your knees outwards during all phases of the squat movement.
Watch a video of the single kettlebell front squat exercise below:
The Double Kettlebell Front Squat
The double kettlebell front squat enables you to overload the movement as well as balance out the load on both sides of the body.
The squatting principles of using two kettlebells are same as when using one kettlebell.
You can link fingers to help keep the kettlebell handles together if you find that more comfortable.
If you do not have two kettlebells of the same weight you can still perform the double kettlebell front squat with different size kettlebells on each side. After each set just change sides so the heavier kettlebell is now being held in the opposite hand.
Learn more squats: 7 kettlebell squats you need to know
Kettlebell Front Squat to Overhead Press
For those short on time or wishing to choose an exercise that is effective for fat loss then the kettlebell front squat to overhead press is a great choice.
The squatting portion of the exercise is performed in exactly the same way as a conventional squat. However, once you stand up from the bottom of the squat drive the kettlebells overhead using your standing momentum.
Sometimes called the kettlebell thruster this exercise can be performed with either one kettlebell or one in each hand.
Beginners can practice this exercise by holding the kettlebell in both hands and performing the squat and then the overhead press.
As this exercise is very demanding and uses most of the muscles in your body you need to be careful with your technique as you quickly start to fatigue. If your form starts to break down then stop or reduce the weight.
Kettlebell Front Squat vs Goblet Squat
The kettlebell goblet squat is usually the best place for a beginner to start with the squatting exercise. The kettlebell is held with both hands at chest height which helps balance the squatting movement.
The benefits of the goblet squat are the same as other kettlebell squatting exercises with the bonus of centrally balancing the body with the kettlebell.
The kettlebell front squat loads the one side of the body and also challenges the one shoulder more intensely than the goblet squat. You will also need to change sides after each set of front squats if you are only using one kettlebell.
The double kettlebell squat has the added bonus of being able to load the body more comfortably than holding the equivalent weight in just one kettlebell.
Learn more: Quick guide to the kettlebell goblet squat
Watch a video of the kettlebell goblet squat exercise below:
Kettlebell Front Squat vs Barbell Front Squat
The barbell front squat is an easier variation of front squat due to the holding position and consistency of the bar across the shoulders.
Barbell front squats are an excellent choice for building sheer strength and bulk in the legs, buttocks and hips.
However the kettlebell front squat offers more muscle activation than the barbell front squat due to the complexities of holding two kettlebells.
Holding one kettlebell in each hand and then squatting ensures a better balance throughout the body as each shoulder is working independently compared to the other.
You will also find that due to the more forward position of the kettlebells during the squatting movement that the core muscles are forced to work even harder to stabilise the upper body.
One consideration is how you get the load, whether it is kettlebell or barbell, up and into the squatting position. Barbells can be started in a rack and returned to a rack easily whereas kettlebells need to be cleaned from the floor adding an addition element of difficulty to the exercise.
High Rep Kettlebell Front Squats
High rep kettlebell training is highly effective for developing strength endurance. If you haven’t yet experienced it you will be surprised at just how cardiovascular this type of training can be.
Using higher reps is also an excellent choice for kettlebell training because you don’t generally work with the same type of heavy loads that you do with barbell training.
I’d recommend that you begin your high rep kettlebell front squats with around 20 reps.
You can limit the amount of sets to only one if you get the load right.
Double kettlebell front squats are my favourite choice for higher reps but you can also use just one kettlebell and change sides halfway through, say after 10 reps.
If you haven’t tried high rep kettlebell front squats then I suggest you give them a try there is just something magical that seem to happen when you hit around 20 reps non stop.
Learn more: How to choose the right reps for your workout
Kettlebell Front Squat Workout
Once you have practiced and feel comfortable with the kettlebell squat here is a full body workout you can try:
Full Body Kettlebell Workout
- Double Kettlebell Front Squats x 10 reps
- Push Ups or Pull Ups x As many as possible
- Repeat 3 – 5 circuits
The workout above is a more advanced workout but those using the double kettlebell front squat should be in the more advanced bracket.
You could easily change the double kettlebell front squat for the goblet squat or single handed front squat, just remember to balance out your left and right sides.
Want more? 3 kettlebell workouts for legs
The kettlebell front squat is a highly effective and fundamental exercise that all kettlebell practitioners should be using.
Not only does the kettlebell front squat benefit the legs, hips and buttocks but also the core and back muscles. The squat also keeps the joints healthy, helps promote fat loss, and challenges your cardio without the need to move your feet.
The front squat can be performed either with one kettlebell or two. The double kettlebell front squat is excellent for developing brute strength and overload the squatting movement.
Kettlebell front squats can have benefits over barbell front squats due to the additional demands of holding two kettlebells and the overload on the core muscles.
High rep kettlebell front squats will pose a challenge for even the toughest lifter challenging their grit and mental fortitude needed for strength endurance.
Best of luck and take care.
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