The Front Squat is a bit tricky to lear, however, once you have mastered the technical execution and are able to put some load onto the bar, the Front Squat can be used for different training goals, such as developing strength and power, building muscle mass, improving sports performance or consolidating the squatting technique for younger less experienced athletes.
How often Front Squat for Strength and Power
If you are interested in becoming stronger and more powerful you probably do Squats or any kind of Squat variation two to three times a week with one or two days of recovery in between the strength training workouts.
The reason for that is, that you train with a higher training intensity, (above 85% 1RM for maximum strength development), which has a high impact on the nervous system and requires around 48 – 72 hours of recovery.
Check out a 1 RM Front Squat attempt of 6-time World Champion Harrie Lavreysen
The same is true, if you train for Power development, even though the training intensity is lower (between 0 – 70% 1RM depending on the Power Training method), it also has a high impact on the nervous system and requires around 48 – 72 hours of recovery.
Check out the differences between strength training vs power training.
For a detailed structure of how to plan and structure different strength training workouts based around squatting and squatting variations check out the article
How often Front Squat for Building Muscle Mass
If you Front Squat for mass and your goal is to build muscle mass and gain some extra size on your thighs, the training volume (more sets and more reps) is higher than training for strength or power development.
This higher training volume of Front Squats for mass development requires more recovery time, around 72 – 96 hours so that the training frequency is lower and you do 1 – 2 strength training sessions a week.
This higher training volume requires more recovery time, around 72 – 96 hours so that the training frequency is lower and you do 1 – 2 strength training sessions a week.
Why is the recovery time longer?
As I mentioned, the strength and power training mainly have an impact on the nervous system, whilst the hypertrophy training has a higher impact on the muscular system.
This impact on the muscular system and the process of rebuilding the muscular tissue (protein synthesis) takes longer, so make sure you have enough recovery in between these training sessions (at least 2 to 3 days).
Please also check out the table demonstrating the high exertion levels of training methods that elicit the strongest hypertrophic effect.
More resources on Front Squat training frequency, check out
How often do we Front Squat with our Olympic athletes
In our case, in the training with Olympians, we mainly train for strength and power development.
Check out the example of 2016 Olympic Champion Elis Ligtlee performing Front Squats.
We have 2 to 3 strength training sessions a week, wherein every strength training session we use a squat variation.
These squat variation can be a Back Squat, a Front Squat or a Bulgarian Split Squat (Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat).
I personally like to have the Front Squat in at least at one of these strength training sessions.
That means, if we train three times a week it, the schedule could look like this
Day 1: Back Squats
Day 2: Bulgarian Split Squats
Day 3: Front Squats
Why in this order?
The idea behind this sequencing of the squat variations is that it follows the ‘heavy – light – medium approach’, which means the heaviest exercise on day 1, the lightest exercise on day 2 and on day 3 the medium exercise (lighter than the heavy exercise, heavier than the lighter exercise.
But wait a minute, if I train at 85% 1RM in all squatting variations, they are equally heavy, right?
Yes and no.
In terms of relative intensity based on the 1 RM of each exercise they are, in terms of the volume load, also called tonnage (reps * sets * weight lifted) they are not.
To read more about the heavy light medium principle check the article
How often do we Front Squat with our younger athletes?
With our young athletes, I use the Front Squats and Overhead Squats to teach proper squatting mechanics and squatting techniques.
The reason for this exercise choice is, that the fact of having the bar in front of your shoulders during the Front Squat forces you to stay more upright.
Why is staying upright important?
You might have seen that in the Back Squats, that when people descend into the squat down everything seems to be right, but when they ascent they come up with their hip first and the movement becomes more of a Good Morning than a squat.
Especially with the younger athletes, where the priority is technical learning, the last thing I want to do is to train and enforce faulty movement patterns.
With the Front Squat, as well as the Overhead Squat this faulty movement pattern is not possible.
If you rise with the hip to fast, you will lose the bar forward in the Front Squat, as well as in the Overhead Squat.
I have explained this in more detail in the articles
And also check out the following two videos showcasing Gino Knies Track Cyclist in the Junior National team performing a Handsfree Front Squat to learn and maintain the upright body posture I just outlined
and after doing so many Handsfree Front Squats, he is able to maintain the same upright body posture during regular Front Squats.
Please bear in mind these videos are taken after 2 years of training, what allows him to maintain good technical execution even at higher loads.
Working on the Front Squat technique requires less recovery time, as compared to training for strength, power or hypertrophy.
Consequently, if you train to improve squatting techniques or acquiring and learning new techniques in general, you can do more training sessions.
If you train to improve squatting techniques or acquiring and learning new techniques in general, you can do more training sessions.
How many training sessions?
These technique training sessions can be performed between 4 to 6 times a week.
The loading pattern is at a low to medium-high intensity and recovery isn’t really stressed.
I have outlined this in more detail in the article the Ultimate Guide to Power Cleans, discussing How often should I Power Clean for a better Power Clean technique
Concluding How often Front Squat
The Front Squat training frequency is dependent on your training goal and the resulting recovery times of each individual training method to achieve that training goal.
Front Squatting to improve strength and power can be performed 2 – 3 times a week, whilst Front Squats with the goal of building muscle mass in the thigh, can be done 1 – 2 times a week.
If you do the Front Squats, as I do for the technical development of the squatting movement, the training frequency can be higher up to 4 – 6 sessions a week.