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Old 10-05-2008, 01:09 PM   #1
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Default Front Squat Form Tips

Ran across this article while browsing another discussion, and thought others might find it helpful...


Front squats
Source: Lyle McDonald's Newsletter Archive (April 2006)

As mentioned in the introduction, the front squat is one of the almost forgotten exercises in recent times. If you see someone performing anything close to a proper front squat in your gym, you work out in a very unusual gym. An excellent way to work the quads and take stress off the low back (relative to back squats), front squats are a movement that you'll rarely see unless your gym has Olympic lifters. Occasionally, you might see them done in the smith machine.

Many people have problem holding a good rack on the bar and, for this reason, I'm going to show a variety of grips so that even the most inflexible can use this movement. Front squats can make a good second leg movement after deadlifts (although lower back fatigue can make the front squats problematic). Because of the difficulty holding the rack, front squats are rarely done for high reps, sets of 5 or triples are best. Many people, depending on wrist flexibility, also have problems with breathing but as long as you hold a good rack, this will get better.

On the topic of racking the bar, there are basically three different ways to hold the bar. Olympic lifters, of course, use a clean style grip as that is how they receive the bar on their shoulders after the clean. However, some bigger bodybuilder or powerlifters types, usually with larger arms and/or inflexible triceps can have problems with this type of grip. The original modified way of holding the bar was the cross arm or Cossack grip. Personally, I've never liked it, I don't feel like the bar is stable. A third option is a semi-crossed arm grip where you are actually holding the bar. All three grips are shown below and, in all three, the elbows are kept high so that the bar is being held on a 'shelf' formed by the shoulders. The bar shouldn't be pushed so far back into the neck that breathing becomes a problem.

Clean Grip


Cossack Grip


Modified Cossack Grip



Once the bar is racked, the next issue is to perform a proper front squat. The feet should be shoulder width or slightly wider with the feet angled out. The movement begins by breaking the knees forwards while squatting essentially straight down, the knees will go forwards of the toes and should stay over the feet at all times (see form error below).

It's crucial to keep the torso bolt upright and this is facilitated by keeping the head up and driving the elbows up throughout the movement; if the elbows drop, the lift will generally be lost out front. Most people will find it easier to perform a full squat to full depth. Starting and ending positions for a properly performed front squat appear below.




Finally, let's look at some common errors in the front squat. As with back squatting, letting the knees break in at the bottom is fairly common, seemingly moreso in women than in men. The reasons for this can be many ranging from weak hip external rotators (some coaches think that weak adductors are the real cause) to simply not actively pushing the knees out throughout the movement. A very exaggerated example of this appears below, you can see how the knees break in and the feet roll to their insides.

A second problem that occurs is dropping the elbows in the bottom of the squat. This causes the torso to come forwards and the upper (and often lower) back to round. Usually, a heavy weight will be lost out front when this occurs. Two examples of this appear below. The rightmost picture is common among lifters with very poor shoulder flexibility, they tend to try to simply hold the bar in their hands rather than getting it into a good rack position on the top of the shoulders.




Finally, for people with limited hamstring flexibility, or who simply do not actively try to maintain a good arch, the lower back will tuck under which can throw a lot of dangerous stress onto the low back. This appears below with a properly performed squat shown next to it.

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Old 10-05-2008, 02:02 PM   #2
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Nope, never seen this at Planet Flintstones...... Thanks for posting FP.
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Old 10-05-2008, 02:29 PM   #3
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OT: A Flintstone gym would rule. Everything would be stones, rocks, and...Bronto Burgers!

My wrist just broke again while looking at the Clean grip. ::shudder:: Cossack grip for me all the way, no doubt. Funny thing was before I broke it, I had JUST begun to get use to the Clean grip. I couldn't have done more than 3 sessions using it, and that was that.
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Old 10-05-2008, 03:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MansonOzz View Post
OT: A Flintstone gym would rule. Everything would be stones, rocks, and...Bronto Burgers!
Ha ha - Dino dogs too! And all those girls in lepard workout gear!
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Old 10-05-2008, 09:31 PM   #5
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And ribs that will flip your car
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:09 PM   #6
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This inspired me to do a front squat tomorrow. Luckily for me I have a harness to get rid of the burdens that come along without it.
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:19 PM   #7
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I have always found the front squat to feel a bit more natural for me than back squats. I should work on my flexibility and try out the clean grip. I have always felt a bit more comfortable with the crossed arms version.
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Old 10-06-2008, 06:27 AM   #8
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The feel more natural for me too, Nic. I as well have always used the cross-arms grip. The clean grip is actually easier than it looks, though.
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeD View Post
This inspired me to do a front squat tomorrow. Luckily for me I have a harness to get rid of the burdens that come along without it.
I want that!!
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Old 10-06-2008, 10:11 AM   #10
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Clean grip also helps in strongman competitions with the log clean and press. I use the cross arm, but will work on clean gripping for that purpose.

Nice find FP!
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:30 PM   #11
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Man, I need to develop better flexibility, that's most of what keeps me from front squatting. Anyone have any suggestions? Just stretch after my workouts?
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:35 PM   #12
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What do you feel is holding you back, though doesn't during a back squat?
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Old 10-06-2008, 01:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MansonOzz View Post
What do you feel is holding you back, though doesn't during a back squat?
I think a lot of it is shoulder and wrist flexibility that causes me to drop my elbows and un-rack the bar, but I've always noticed my lower back rounding in the hole of my back squat as well. I'm so protective of my knees even though I know that they'll come forward more in a front squat than in a back squat.
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Old 10-06-2008, 01:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fireproof View Post
I want that!!
Here's a pic of the one that I made.

http://i393.photobucket.com/albums/p...5/100_5879.jpg
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Old 10-06-2008, 02:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by megalift View Post
Here's a pic of the one that I made.

http://i393.photobucket.com/albums/p...5/100_5879.jpg
You made that!! Your welding skills are awesome. That thing looks very nice.
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Old 10-06-2008, 02:11 PM   #16
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Yea, that thing looks awesome! I wonder how it'd feel to use one of those, it's got to help a bunch not having to stabilize the bar or keep total focus on it in case it slips...which it usually does when it's heavy
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Old 10-06-2008, 02:42 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by megalift View Post
Here's a pic of the one that I made.

http://i393.photobucket.com/albums/p...5/100_5879.jpg
Holy crap that looks nice!

How much can I pay you for one just like it?
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Every morning a lion wakes up knowing that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
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Old 10-06-2008, 02:47 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MansonOzz View Post
Yea, that thing looks awesome! I wonder how it'd feel to use one of those, it's got to help a bunch not having to stabilize the bar or keep total focus on it in case it slips...which it usually does when it's heavy
That's my whole issue - if I can manage to get comfortable and work around wrist (broken in the past) and shoulder (dislocated in the past) issues, then as soon as it starts to get to a decent weight, the pressure of bar placement still becomes a major distraction. Would love to just rest it on those pegs and GO!
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Every morning a lion wakes up knowing that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It makes no difference whether you are a lion or a gazelle - when the sun comes up, you better be running!


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Old 10-06-2008, 04:14 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by megalift View Post
Here's a pic of the one that I made.

http://i393.photobucket.com/albums/p...5/100_5879.jpg
just so everyone knows I have a deadlift platform with band attachments on it built by mega. It is quality and if anyone is looking for a good price on equipment mega is your guy.
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Old 10-06-2008, 04:49 PM   #20
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Thanks guys. I've made quite a few pieces of equipment and I'll post some pics when appropriate.
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Old 10-06-2008, 05:16 PM   #21
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i have found that the front squat is alot more comfortable than the back squat. In addition, i found that is aplies alot more tension on my quads works them far more than the regualr squat.. I def prefer the crossed grip over the other tho...
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Old 10-28-2008, 07:09 PM   #22
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"Holding" the bar in the olympic grip seems to be the tricky part for me. The more fingers I let slip off thar bar, the better I can position my arms and reduce the pressure on my wrists. The problem then is not so much that it feels less stable, but what the hell do I do with the bar when I'm done and I've only got 2 fingers on the bar? I workout at home and clean the weight from the floor, so re-racking isn't an option. Maybe I'll make that investment in bumper plates so I can just dump it after a set.
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Old 10-28-2008, 07:30 PM   #23
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I use the clean grip but I must say, I'm holding on with more than just the tips of two fingers! For me the bar kind of "rests" in the last knuckle joint/tips of all my fingers. Maybe that's a modified clean grip? I can't imagine trying to hold the thing up there the way she's got it. I don't think I'd feel very stable.

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- that harness is awesome!!
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:02 PM   #24
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Thats how I started gripping it, but as the weight adds up, my wrists really start to hurt unless I release a few fingers.
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:30 PM   #25
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Thanks w8girl.
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