Why zombie squats??

3 Key Benefits To Front Squatting With NO HANDS

Alec Enkiri | 6/20/22

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Why ZOMBIE front squats??

People often ask me why I love the zombie style, aka "no hands," front squat so much. And there are 3 key reasons!

  1. Cranks up thoracic extensor engagement

Front squat are known for the profound strengthening effect they have on the upper back area. I have said in the past that I believe front squats are actually the best general upper back strengthening movement in existence because they force you to learn how to engage the muscles that keep the thoracic spine rigidly braced and extended and they force you to do so to a more intense degree than pretty much any other exercise in existence. Couple this with the leg strength/hypertrophy benefits of the movement and incorporating front squats into your routine becomes a no brainer.

The zombie squat simply takes this effect and amplifies it. With nothing to brace the arms against the upper back muscles must learn how to work into overdrive with no aid. I liken it to "beltless" training for the upper back musculature. Whereas the standard front squat would be more like using a "belt."


  1. Perfect form

One simply cannot execute a zombie squat without perfect form.

Go ahead, try it...it's impossible.

If you let the hips pop up at all the bar is simply going to roll off of your shoulders. This exercise demands technical perfection. If you are zombie squatting a heavy ass weight it is because you have stupidly strong legs. There are no 2 ways about it and there is no manner to avoid putting the tension on the leg muscles or shift an excessive emphasis onto the hips.

This can be a good strength tool for people with potential knee extensor weakness. It can also be a good learning tool for people who struggle with positioning loss, where their hips run away from them during squatting movements.


  1. Lesser mobility demands

The zombie front squat, even though it INCREASES the strength demands of the upper body actually DECREASES the mobility demands. The lats need not be nearly as mobile as with a clean grip. The thoracic spine doesn't need to be able to extend as far to achieve good position as with either a clean grip or even a cross arm grip.

So the barrier to entry is lesser. It's an advanced exercise but it's also a regression! That's not to say there aren't benefits to having these mobility levels, and people SHOULD strive to achieve them, but the zombie squat allows you to get all the benefits of the front squat (and more) regardless. Meaning you can start deriving its benefits TODAY, instead of next month or next year or whatever.

Happy zombie squatting!

-Alec

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