I hear it all the time “I’m not flexible enough to front squat…” Many athletes avoid ……. front squats. That’s a downright disgrace because not only are "fronts" an awesome exercise, they're really quite easy, once you get the hang of them. It can make you feel as though the tendons and ligaments in your wrist are about to tear clean off, and the ensuing aching of the knees certainly doesn’t help make it a favorite among many lifters. However, it is one of the essential lifts that promote both strength and flexibility while conditioning the entire body/chain.
Like most things that "suck" at first or are difficult or uncomfortable, front squats deliver superior results. Front squats also keep you honest. If you cheat, you drop the bar, simple as that. For this reason, many coaches consider the front squat to be a better lower body strength test than the mighty back squat (At least I do). It also creates a built-in safety mechanism. When the rubber hits the road, the biggest knock on front squats is simply that they're hard and can be uncomfortable at first, which is a terrible excuse when you consider weight training is supposed to be at least a somewhat complicated or a “hard” attempt.
But front squats are worth the temporary discomfort. This article will give you tips and drills that you can try today to help you front squat more effectively and take your training to the next level.
Get a Grip
First things first – you've got to figure out how you're going to hold the weight and the setup.
Assuming you have the basic upper body flexibility to use the clean grip, that's your best bet. It's very secure and will have the most carryover to the Olympic lifts. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to get into this position without putting undue stress on the wrists. If you fall into this camp, don't force it. Definitely, work on your flexibility (giving special attention to the wrists, shoulders, lats, and triceps), but use a different grip for the time being.
The cross-arm grip is another popular option and is what I used for years when I started out. While it worked well for the most part, I found that as the weights got heavier, I had a hard time keeping my elbows up, which led to me rounding my upper back and having the bar slide forward off my shoulders.
Once you have the grip figured out, it's time to move on to the squat itself.
Step 1: Set-up
Start with the loaded (or empty) barbell on a squat rack. Make sure that the bar is racked about an inch or two below the clavicles while in a full standing position.
Step 2: Hand position
Choose a hand position on the barbell close to or mirroring the grip you use for a press or a clean. Do not fully grip the bar, but rather just hook the fingers around the bar.
Step 3: Placement
Meet the bar and place it above the clavicles while rotating your elbows upward to create as much of a horizontal angle with your arms. This creates the “shelf” across the clavicles and anterior deltoids.
Step 4: Stance
After un-racking, stay tight and position your feet about shoulder-width apart (adjust to comfort), point your toes 30-45 degrees outward (aligned with knee direction), and pull the hips back slightly to place the majority of the resistance onto the heels.
Step 5: Breath
Take a deep breath and focus a majority of the pressure to the abdominal area to stabilize the entire torso and spine. Hold your breath through the descent and stand — Steps 7 and 8, respectively — of the front squat to maintain midline stability.
Step 6: Descent
Begin lowering yourself into the bottom position (“the hole”), which requires the crease of the hip to fall below the knees. Most of you hear me say it all the time, but here are some cues to remember while front squatting:
· Chest up;
· Sit back;
· Knees out; and
· Elbows straightforward/high.
Step 7: Stand up
Once you’ve reached the bottom position, drive through the heels while exhaling to stand back up while remembering these cues:
· Chest up;
· Drive through the heels;
· Keep the elbows straightforward/high; and
· Keep the knees out.
Get To It!
Hopefully, this article has addressed any issues you might have with front squats and perhaps even given you some ideas for improving your own. Regardless, I feel better knowing that I've done my part to help rescue front squat from the dog house.
If front squats leave you frustrated and sore in all the wrong places, try using some of the tips mentioned here for a month. I may just make a believer out of you too.
Here are some tips for your flexibility from Kelly Starrett: https://youtu.be/Un1PDhrU3h0
DAY 29 OF OUR HOLIDAY BODY WEIGHT CHALLENGE - 58 BURPEES!!!
Reminder our annual holiday party is on this Saturday from 9 till late! The party will be at Del Frisco's at Pike and Rose (close to the gym), everyone is invited!
Visit any planet, which one would you choose and why?
Front Squat Warm Up
Front Rack Mobility
20 Squats w/band
5 Inch Worms
20 OH Squats
Four sets of:
Front Squat x 5 reps
Rest 90 seconds
Ring Rows x 10 reps
Rest 90 seconds
Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps)
Complete as many rounds and reps in 8 mins of:
8 KB Swings
Out of Town WOD
30 Air Squats
30 Sit ups
How to Perform a Proper Front Squat - Tabata Times. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.tabatatimes.com/how-to-perform-a-proper-front-squat/
Front Squats Made Easier | T Nation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.t-nation.com/training/front-squats-made-easier
How to Perform a Proper Front Squat - blogspot.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://functionalalexch.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-perform-proper-front-squat.h