This content is from the experts at Men's Fitness magazine.
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The back squat is a great move for building bigger legs, but poor form means many people turn it into a modified good morning by bending too far forward and shifting the emphasis to the hips and lower back. There’s a simple solution to this problem...
‘Front squats, which is when you hold the bar across the front of your shoulders rather than on your upper back, require stricter form because you can’t cheat by bending too far forwards – the bar will drop out of your hands,’ says trainer Nick Mitchell, founder of Ultimate Performance (upfitness.co.uk).
This focus on form makes your back more upright in the squat and emphasises your quads, lessening the pressure on your lower back and giving you a bigger range of motion.
‘For an extra training effect, try doing one and a quarter reps, so you stop a quarter of the way through as you come back up, then go back down before completing the rep as normal,' says Mitchell. ‘This allows even greater stimulation of the hard-to-hit vastus medialis muscle. The result will be healthier knees and more powerful-looking thighs.’
Try an overhead squat to make the move more challenging. Squatting while holding the bar above your head with your arms fully extended is a major test of leg and core strength, as well as balance, co-ordination and joint stability and flexibility.
If you haven’t yet acquired the strength and co-ordination to execute front squats properly, the goblet squat is an entry-level exercise that can get you up to speed. Using boxes to increase the range of motion will allow you to ‘open up’ your hips and build strength and stability for the entire movement pattern.