Front Squats and Presses

« | »

IMG_2627Strength Focus

  • Shoulder Press
    5-4-3-2-1 rep sets for load

Establish a new 5 rep max, then attempt to hold the same weight or even increase the load as the reps decrease.  Every set should feel like a max effort.

IMG_2626CrossFit WOD

  • Front Squat
    5-4-3-2-1 rep sets for load

Establish a new 5 rep max, then attempt to hold the same weight or even increase the load as the reps decrease.  Every set should feel like a max effort.

IMG_2615 IMG_2615 IMG_2615 IMG_2615 IMG_2615 IMG_2615

Why Should I Be Doing Front Squats?

Front squats will do three things if you do them correctly:

  • Increase depth achieved
  • Improve core strength
  • Activate glutes

When a barbell is loaded on the front of the body, the pelvis gets to tilt backwards somewhat, which makes the hamstrings less taut. This gives them the freedom to allow a greater ROM at the bottom of the lift. This pelvic tilt also allows the lower abs to contribute to the lift more, and takes the hip flexors away from "blocking" the movement.

So, just like a goblet squat, you get a hell of a lot lower then you do in a back squat. The torso also gets to stay more upright, which requires the obliques to provide stability.

Finally, due to the tremendous knee extension involved, the front squat is rightly seen as a major quad developer. Since the thighs drop far below parallel to the floor, it's safe to say that hip flexion is greatly increased too, forcing the glutes to assist the concentric half of the lift.

With all of these kick-ass benefits, it seems like a no-brainer that front squats should make a regular appearance in a typical program.

Why You Suck At Front Squats

Other than the obvious (you aren't doing them enough), there are a few things that limit lifters from achieving a decent front squat.

  • Your Abs Aren't Strong Enough

Front squats require considerable core involvement. You'd do well to incorporate some exercises for anti–extension (to prevent overarch) and oblique work so they function well as stabilizers.

  • Your Elbows Won't Stay High Enough

The goal should be to keep the elbows pointing as far upwards as possible to promote parallel lines between the upper arm and the floor at all times.

If you've noticed that every time you front squat your elbows start pointing towards the floor after only two reps, causing you to rack the weight prematurely, there's a reason for that.

In this case, the first thing to do would be to activate your rotator cuff. If these small muscles aren't playing their part in externally rotating the upper arm, your elbows will drop faster than Tiger Woods' "Just Do It" promo.

  • You Can't Stand Tall

Proper thoracic extension is very important for front squats, as the Turtleback syndrome affects many when they have to bear a front load.

Take a barbell and perform a set of five front squats. Do you notice your mid-back rolling like the Andes?

Either way, there are a few simple fixes.

  • PNF intercostal stretch
  • Foam roller extensions
  • Trap – 3 raises

(See this article for examples of all three)

Something to keep in mind though – studies have shown that after the sixth rep of a typical set of front squats or front loaded work, the rhomboids begin fatiguing and can no longer hold a constant isometric. For this reason, try to keep sets of front squats towards the lower end of the repetition continuum.

  • Getting a Grip

Many lifters will use the "California" style or cross-armed grip on the bar to allow it to rest on the shoulders when performing a front squat. Big mistake. Since one elbow stays higher than the other on a cross-armed grip, under substantial load, it can act against proper structural alignment of the shoulders, and has the potential to refer imbalances right through to the hips and knees.

For this reason, I highly recommend using a clean grip, which also has better carryover to proper techniques involved with any Olympic lifts as well as overhead pressing. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but remember to keep a proud chest and get those elbows up!

It's okay to remove a finger or two from under the bar (I like to remove my thumb and pinky finger as it helps take stress off the wrists and allows for the elbows to stay up). Otherwise, make sure the lats, triceps, and forearms get a good stretch before beginning.

T-Nation

Speak Your Mind

*