Dumbbell front squats are a simple and effective exercise to help you build stronger abs and overall full-body strength.
Because you are holding 2 dumbbells in front of you as counterbalance, you can increase your squat depth without compromising on quality. You can do a normal bodyweight squat and see how low you can squat without your back rounding. Now hold a weight in front of you and do the same. You’ll notice right away you can go at least 20 to 30% lower safely.
Are Dumbbell Front Squats Better Than Goblet Squats?
Goblet squats and dumbbell front squats are sometimes used interchangeably, so they can be easily confused. For the purposes of this article, a Goblet Squats requires you to hold 1 dumbbell in the center of your chest, while dumbbell front squats you hold 2 dumbbells. I often call dumbbell front squats “double db front squats” to avoid confusion.
There are a few advantages of dumbbell front squats:
- You can use more weight using 2 dumbbells instead of just 1. It’s also easier to hold 2 dumbbells instead of cupping a dumbbell.
- During a goblet squat the weight is fixed in one position near your chest. With a dumbbell front squat,
- You may find you can squat deeper and more naturally with dumbbell front squats vs. goblet squats.
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart, each hand holding a dumbbell in front of your chest, palms facing your body.
- Keeping your head up and shoulders locked down, sit your hips down while pushing your knees outward so they stay inline with your toes.
- Squat down until your hips are below the plane of your knees. If you don’t have enough flexibility to do this, squat as low as you can comfortably.
- Push through your heels back up to the starting position.
- Always maintain a flat to slightly arched lower back position (known as a neutral spine). Avoid rounding your lower back, or tucking under your hips.
- Keep your knees pushed outward so they track over your toes. Your knees should not cave inward, but rather stay in the same plane.
- Keep your heels firmly planted on the ground as you squat.
- Keep your torso as vertical as possible, so you are not leaning too far forward.
- Breathe in, then lower down while holding your breath, then exhale forcefully as you push back up to the top.
3 Common Mistakes
1. Knees Cave In
A very common mistake when doing squats in general is for the knees to cave in and the feet to collapse inward.
This can happen for a couple of reasons:
The outside of your hips and glutes are weak, so your knees lack proper stability when you squat.
The arches in your feet may flatten, or you use footwear with large cushioning, which encourages improper form you are not consciously pressing your knees outward.
Your knees should be in line with your toes as you squat, and your feet should be angled slightly outward, which gives you more space to get your hips into a deep squat position.
2. Not squatting low enough
Doing partial squats is not as effective as squatting deeply with a neutral spine. Ideally, your hip joint will drop below the plane of your knees at the bottom of the squat position, without rounding your low back (aka butt wink). This maximally engages your glutes and legs in a very functional squat pattern.
To be clear, squatting “below parallel” or getting into a deep squat should not hurt your knees. And keep in mind – you need sufficient ankle, hip, and upper back flexibility to squat deeply without your lower back rounding.
3. Heels coming off ground
As you squat, your heels should be planted firmly on the ground. This is key to activating the proper muscles involved in a squat such as your glutes, increasing joint stability, and maximizing your strength potential.
If your heels come off the ground, the exercise is not safe because you could lose your balance. I highly recommend flat-soled shoes or taking off your sneakers when squatting. A thick sneaker will significantly affect your squat form, the placement of your joints, and the recruitment of muscles.
Dumbbell front squats are a solid exercise that help increase your strength & power. If you haven’t done them yet, give them a try.