Front Loaded Skater Squats

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Hey all! Two blog posts in a week! That might be a record so far for 2013. Score!

Today I’ve got another quick one for you. Truth be told, I like the shorter posts better because myself because I find I never end up reading all the way through longer posts anyway. Do you feel the same way as me or do you tend to like longer posts? Let me know below.

Anyway, today I just want to show an alternate way to do skater squats. I’m really glad to see that skater squats seem to be catching on with a lot of you because I think it’s an awesome exercise that a lot of people can really benefit from. The people that have tried them seemed to really like them, which is great to see.

One thing I’ve been getting some questions about though—particularly from stronger lifters—is how to add load if you don’t have weight vests available.

I’ve tried numerous different loading methods from barbells to kettlebells to heavy dumbbells to bands. You name it, I’ve probably tried it. I like using weight vests a lot, but another method that I really like too if that’s not an option is holding the barbell with a front squat grip.

Like so:

For an added challenge— or just for a different variation—you can also try them starting from the bottom position off the pins, like this:

The key with both variations is to make sure that you aren’t pushing off the floor with your back foot.

The barbell makes the exercise harder by raising your center of mass, and it also makes the exercise slightly more knee-dominant since you have to keep more of an upright torso to keep the barbell from sliding off your shoulders.

I feel these a ton in the quads, glutes, and core.

I’ve also found that using a “hands free” grip can work quite well for balance where you just extend your arms straight out in front of you. You’d think that would be a problem as far as just holding the bar, but because the load isn’t too heavy it actually pretty well. So if you’re struggling to balance, try the “hands free” grip too and see what you think.

If you’ve been crushing skater squats and need a way to up the ante, try these and let me know your thoughts.

And please subscribe to my You Tube page for more exercise demos.

Finish the week strong!


  • Pierce Smith

    You’re the man, Ben! Thanks so much for all the posts over the years, I’ve been able to learn a lot from you. I’ve been working on my technique with Skater Squats for the past few weeks almost everyday. My gym doesn’t have any of the thick pads you use to touch your knee, I was wondering how much do you think that helps with skater squatting? My biggest problem is maintaining tightness and stability in the bottom position with my knee on the ground. I have to touch my toes to the floor just to get the stability to really be able to fire hard with the working leg. It’s definitely a form of cheating the exercise, but I really don’t push at all with the back leg’s toes they just give me the stability I need for my muscles to feel safe firing, I guess. I yearn to master the Skater Squat, but right now I’m basically doing reverse lunges with an extended (time-wise) eccentric. Any advice would be much appreciated, but I understand if you can’t address every random internet fan’s problems. Just posting all these exercises and variations is service enough!

    • Ben Bruno

      The pad won’t help much, but I feel much safer with it because I’m not worried about banging my knee. It also serves a depth gauge. I think the way you’re doing them is fine, and in time you’ll progress to doing them without tapping the back foot down. Definitely takes some time though. Also, do you have Valslides? If so, you can assisted skater squats to help build up. Good luck!

      • Pierce Smith

        Thanks a lot for the reply, Ben. I don’t have Valslides, but I’ve seen you employ them in so many different ways, I should probably invest in a pair. Thanks for the ideas.

  • Jake Hildreth

    Don’t forget the Zercher position! It really forces you to keep your upper back and core tight while still moving the center of gravity like the front squat position.

    • Ben Bruno

      I’ve tried the Zercher position and don’t really like it much. To me it’s feels more like a core exercise than a leg exercise. Some people really like it though, so to each their own. I certainly have no problem with it, just not my favorite.

  • Ralph

    Ben-Could you use a single kettlebell held up by your chest and get the same results?

    • Ben Bruno

      Sure, goblet postition works fine and I’ve done those too. You may run into a case where you need more weight though.

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  • Gronk

    Good stuff, Ben. Curious, do you ever drop the hip below parallel on any of these one leg SQ type moves, like maybe doing this skater SQ version off a platform? Just seems like that just above parallel range is a little rough on the knees, like using the quad as a brake.

    • Ben Bruno

      Yes, I do these from a deficit sometimes, but I probably wouldn’t do that with a barbell just for safety reasons. I’d only do that with dumbbells/weight vests.

  • lunk

    Ben, how do you feel these in your glutes!? To me they feel like a completely quad dominant move. Should I experiment with leaning forwards when doing them? Is that what you’d recommend? It seems you’re pretty upright when you do them, though…

    • Ben Bruno

      I feel them a ton in my glutes actually. If you don’t and you want to, I think you might have better luck holding dumbbells and using a bit more forward lean.

  • lunk

    Thanks Ben.

    IN fact, with single leg exercise such as RFESS it would be useful to get your opinion of whether leaning forward hits glutes harder or not? I’ve heard several coaches say that keeping upright and using a long stride maximizes glute contribution since your weight is not over your knee, yet other coaches such as Bret Contreras have said that leaning forward would maximize glute contribution… What do you think – upright or leaning for maximum glute activation in RFESS?

    • Ben Bruno

      Leaning forward will increase glute recruitment, but I actually don’t recommend doing it unless you’re using just bodyweight or very, very light loads. Regular RFESS will still work the glutes a lot and I just don’t think it’s safe for the lower back to lean forward a lot under heavy load.

  • Nicholas Rolnick

    i also like pressing outward with the lateral side of my feet to increase glute med contribution on the front leg. This usually makes me “feel” my glutes working hard.

    PS. Love the skater squats Ben. I’m a single-leg fiend and love the new quirky exercise.

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  • iAdd02

    You should try Skater Squats on the Airex Pad. Added instability and added ROM.