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Daniel Mesa

Safety Bar Front Squat: Pros, Cons, How-To

safety bar front squat

One of the best benefits of the safety squat bar is that it allows those with shoulder, elbow, or wrist pain to still squat with a bar on their back. What most people do not know is that the safety squat bar can also allow you to front squat even if you have nagging upper body injuries.

The safety bar front squat is a relatively unknown squat variation that I think a lot of people could benefit from. In this guide, I will break down how to do this movement and then discuss the pros and cons against the regular barbell front squat.

How To Do Safety Bar Front Squat

Video Guide

Turn the bar around

Flip the bar around so that the handles are facing around you.

Step under the bar

Step in between the handles of the bar and wraps your arms around the padding.

Unrack the bar

Unrack the bar and take a few steps back


Squat down by driving your hips back. Continue to engage your core and hold on to the bar tightly.

Explode Up

Drive up by pushing your feet against the floor.


  • Remove handles if possible

  • Hold onto or hug the pad

  • Start out light as your get used to the movement


Less Upper Body Mobility Required

The reason why many people cannot do the front squat comes down to upper body mobility. Lots of people cannot get their shoulders and wrists into the proper front rack position, let alone hold weight in that position.

Meanwhile, front squats with the safety bar do not require much mobility. You can essentially have your arms in front of you and grab the bar any way you like.

ssb front squat

Load Management

Athletes who do a lot of upper-body lifts, such as bench presses or Olympic lifts, don’t want their lower-body exercises to stress their wrists and shoulders. This is why this variation of the safety bar squat can be beneficial for athletes who are already dealing with a lot of stress and fatigue.

More Comfortable

Assuming that you have the required mobility, the barbell front squat still is not the most comfortable of lifts. Many people report a choking sensation from having a heavy bar resting on their upper chest and neck area.

This uncomfortable sensation can largely be attributed to having a heavy load distributed over a thin bar. In contrast, the large padding on the safety bar means that the load is spread out over a larger area. For most people, this eliminates the choking feeling or discomfort.

Lift Heavier

Since there is much demanded of the upper body during a regular front squat, it can be hard to really go heavy and test yourself. With the safety bar, you can worry less about your arms and shoulders during your front squats and really focus on your legs.

safety bar front squat pros and cons


Can Be Hard To Fit

This really only applies if you are a very, large or wide person. But since the padding has a set width, it can be a bit hard to get into the proper position for the front squat.

Less Upper Back Recruitment

Ironically, the front squat with the safety bar removes one of the main benefits of safety bar squats. When you use a safety squat bar for the back squat, your upper back and core have to work very hard to keep you in an upright position. So when you go back to regular straight bar back squats, your body is more used to staying in an upright position.

Since the front squat turns the bar around, the opposite effect will actually take place. It will actually be easier to stay in an upright position. This can be a pro or con depending on how you look at it, but just know that you are getting some assistance in this variation.

Other Front Squat Alternatives

If you do not have access to the safety squat bar, I have also seen some people use straps to be able to hold the bar with less stress on their shoulder complex and wrists. With this variation, you do not have the added comfort of the pad but it will still be better than just a raw front squat.

Bottom Line

The front squat is a great squat variation that can really help grow your quads. However, it can be hard for most people to get into the proper position if they have mobility issues in their upper body. Also, since the bar rests on your chest, it can also be hard to breathe or squat comfortably.

The front squat with the SSB really solves lots of these issues thanks to the padding. Be sure to give it try so you can add front squats to your training.


Find The Best Safety Squat Bar

After years of testing, we assembled a master list of the best safety squat bars for every home gym owner


Can you use a safety squat bar for front squats?

Yes, you can. In fact, the front squat with the SSB puts less stress on your upper body and is often easier for most people.

What do you do if you don’t have a safety squat bar?

There are plenty of alternative and DIY options if you do not have a safety squat bar.