Fighters and front squats don’t initially tend to get on so well. But, with some perseverance, this relationship transforms!

In this episode, I share my journey from hating front squats to making them one of my favorite lifts.

Discover how to create a solid “meat shelf” with your shoulders, drive those elbows forward, and activate your lats to own the front squat like a pro fighter holds their guard up.

Target your quads and take your knee stability to the next level – front squats are the “leg extensions” of the squat world.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned Muay Thai athlete, these front squat tips will have you lifting heavier with better form in no time… And dare I say it, even begin to fall for an exercise that only its mother could love.

by Don Heatrick

What’s Holding Back Your Fight Performance? It May Be Avoiding Front Squats

I once viewed front squats as torture devices for the joints and ego. The rack position tormented my wrists and shoulders, the imbalance strained my core, and the lift complexity bruised my confidence as a coach. How could such an uncomfortable exercise offer any real benefit?

Yet ignoring front squats was a mistake I deeply regret. Yes, back squatting allows you to leverage more posterior chain drive from the hips and glutes. But mastering front squats directly isolates knee dominant muscle groups like the quads. This builds immense strength for executing the types of explosive vertical jumps, lateral footwork, and knee drives relied upon in Muay Thai offense and defense.

Avoiding front squats leaves fighters quad-deficient and hampers their ability to dynamically evade, or root themselves against turning clinch attempts. The carryover to fluid footwork and knockout power undeniable – front squats can transform a fighter’s arsenal.

Front Squats Fixed

So what changed my mind? Embarking on a determined front squat journey forged ironclad discipline and dedication to my craft as a trainer. I slowly grasped the kinetic chain intricacies – driving elbows forward to activate lats, creating external rotation and upper back tension, achieving depth through better ankle mobility. Gradually, the risks faded and confidence soared.

Now I eagerly attack the “meat shelf” front rack position as my launchpad for accelerating out of the hole. My quads violently ignite as I drive upwards, envisioning myself punishing the face of an opponent with ruthless power.

Yet my journey has shown that mastery arrives through incremental progressions. Perfect your stance width, hand position and torso angle before chasing load. Use controlled tempos to ingrain proper motor patterns. Execute at least 3 flawless reps before adding weight.

Success leaves clues. Every champion at one point struggled with techniques that now seem second nature. Respect the process. Front squats develop an athletic potency unmatched by any machine. Consider this your call to conquer your monsters!

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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