Front squat question

AigreDoux
AigreDoux Posts: 594 Member
The strength training program I am doing calls for front squats sometimes. I am really struggling with these. I have flexible arms and wrists, so don't have any problem getting into the clean grip. But I've tried the crossed arms grip and even lifting straps as well and have the same problem.

The problem is that after I get to the bottom of the squat and try to go back up, I tip forward and the bar feels like it's going to fall off my arms. Or I'm using my arms/wrists to keep the bar on my shoulders. I've tried working with very light weights (30 lbs) and concentrating on keeping my weight on my heels, but it still happens, even if I can feel my heel pushing into the ground the whole way.

Any suggestions?

Replies

  • kota4bye
    kota4bye Posts: 809 Member
    So you're using the front rack position right? Your elbows should be nice and high. Concentrate on leading up with your elbows out of the bottom. Can you do it with a PVC pipe?
  • itsthehumidity
    itsthehumidity Posts: 351 Member
    A cue that a lot of lifters use is "chest up" when front squatting. Front squatting works the upper back fairly hard, and the bar falling forward (happens to us all) is due to a relaxation in this area. Using the "chest up" cue keeps this upper back area tight, retracted, and rigid. You can't puff your chest forward and up without that occurring.
  • LolBroScience
    LolBroScience Posts: 4,564 Member
    edited May 2016
    It could be any number of things... positioning, lack of thoracic strength, lack of thoracic mobility, lack of shoulder mobility, bar path misalignment, general looseness at the bottom/not keeping certain muscles engaged...

    Can you post video so we can see?
  • Keladelphia
    Keladelphia Posts: 820 Member
    It's really hard to give advice since we can't tell whether your issue is mobility, back strength, or technique related (video might help) but some things that I personally find help me to keep from "tipping forward" on front squats.

    1.) A strong front rack is key. If you think the bar is close enough to choking you out move it a hair closer to choking you out and you're probably in a good position ha-ha. Even if you think you have great mobility make sure to stretch triceps, lats, shoulders and wrists before front squatting. I find really focusing on external rotation helps and I use this stretch every time before I front squat or Oly lift


    Play around with your front rack grip and foot stance (wider, narrower, toes inward/outward) and see what feels best to you in the bottom position, this could make a big difference. Also, even though I have great wrist/arm flexibility I still release a closed grip in front rack (and when receiving my cleans), it's one less thing working against you to keep your elbows higher and your chest up.

    2.) Squat straight down and up keeping the bar stacked over the hips as much as possible with an upright torso.

    3.) Really driving my knees out at the bottom of the squat helps me to keep the weight distributed in my midfoot/heel and keeps my torso upright. It seems to stop that falling forward feeling for me.


  • beautifulwarrior18
    beautifulwarrior18 Posts: 913 Member
    Sounds like your front rack olsition isn't as good as you think it is. I have horrible front rack position because my upper back & shoulders just aren't very flexible and yes the falling forward happens to me everytime. And front squats kill my wrists and fingers. I hate them.which is why I can only front squat half if what I can back squat. I'd you tube romwod for shoulders, that should help after a while. Also it's pretty common in front squats to feel like you're shoving the bar info your throat. It means your elbows are where they should be.
  • AigreDoux
    AigreDoux Posts: 594 Member
    edited May 2016
    I can't seem to figure out how to get the video to attach to the post. It says the file is not allowed.
  • AigreDoux
    AigreDoux Posts: 594 Member
    ok does this work?
  • jacksonpt
    jacksonpt Posts: 10,413 Member
    edited May 2016
    It's really hard to give advice since we can't tell whether your issue is mobility, back strength, or technique related (video might help) but some things that I personally find help me to keep from "tipping forward" on front squats.

    1.) A strong front rack is key. If you think the bar is close enough to choking you out move it a hair closer to choking you out and you're probably in a good position ha-ha. Even if you think you have great mobility make sure to stretch triceps, lats, shoulders and wrists before front squatting. I find really focusing on external rotation helps and I use this stretch every time before I front squat or Oly lift


    Play around with your front rack grip and foot stance (wider, narrower, toes inward/outward) and see what feels best to you in the bottom position, this could make a big difference. Also, even though I have great wrist/arm flexibility I still release a closed grip in front rack (and when receiving my cleans), it's one less thing working against you to keep your elbows higher and your chest up.

    2.) Squat straight down and up keeping the bar stacked over the hips as much as possible with an upright torso.

    3.) Really driving my knees out at the bottom of the squat helps me to keep the weight distributed in my midfoot/heel and keeps my torso upright. It seems to stop that falling forward feeling for me.


    I agree with the points about trying different grips, and keeping an upright torso.

    I don't have great mobility, so I started putting my middle 3 fingers under the barr (pointer, middle, and ring) as that was all I could manage. In the end, I only use my hands/fingers to keep the bar positioned. I don't actually hold the bar - my delts do.

    FWIW.


    As for your vid... I'm no expert so wait for some more feedback, but it looks like your butt ends up too far back. Try to get your butt closer to your ankles, as if you were sitting down between your feet. Mobility and/or proportions could be at play here, but your front squat looks a lot like my back squat as far as lower body position goes.
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,535 Member
    edited May 2016
    AigreDoux wrote: »
    ok does this work?

    You have an almost low-bar-esque (if that's a word) approach to front squatting.

    I would retool it a bit so that you sit between your legs a bit more rather than sitting back. This should help you have a more vertical back angle which will help keep the whole system over mid-foot (that's where the bar groove should be, not back on your heels).

    You may have to experiment with a few different foot widths to dial this in. I'd also watch a recent max aita/mark bell video where max coaches mark through what to do with the knees after coming out of the hole with a high-bar squat, it should provide some useful tertiary info for this more squatting "between the legs" style and staying upright.

    Other than that, drive upwards forcefully with the elbows as you come out of the hole, this will keep your thoracic spine tight and prevent any collapse (not that you have any in this video - but you may start to experience it at higher weights). Something to learn early on with front squats that'll bring dividends later on...
  • AigreDoux
    AigreDoux Posts: 594 Member
    Thanks!
    I see what you're saying. I thought I was supposed to be sitting back like in a chair, but maybe that's for back squats more?

    I just tried this in my office (with no bar and no weight, in a dress :) ) and if I spread my feet out wider and point my toes out further, I can sit more in the middle. But then my knees come in to bring me up, which I thought you weren't supposed to do? I'm pretty knock-kneed FWIW.
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,535 Member
    AigreDoux wrote: »
    Thanks!
    I see what you're saying. I thought I was supposed to be sitting back like in a chair, but maybe that's for back squats more?

    I just tried this in my office (with no bar and no weight, in a dress :) ) and if I spread my feet out wider and point my toes out further, I can sit more in the middle. But then my knees come in to bring me up, which I thought you weren't supposed to do? I'm pretty knock-kneed FWIW.

    You have to find a width that you can keep the weight over mid-foot and then you have to keep all your structures aligned.

    As to knees caving, try some glute/glute medius activation drills: bird dogs, fire hydrants, clam shells, etc and then retest your squat. Did your knees still collapse inwards? If not, probably a glute firing/activation issue. You may find that either bunging these activation drills into your pre-squat warm-up will help to tidy the issue up. Some people throw a band around their legs for their warm-up sets to teach them to fire the glutes in the actual movement. Other people find that they do better with squat patterning breathing drills (stuff that Quinn Henoch and Ryan Brown from Juggernaut and Darkside put out is pretty good on this front).

    I'd also check stuff like ankle mobility and calf tightness. Elevate your heels by an inch or two and repeat the squat pattern - no problems with ankles elevated? Likely you need to address your calves/ankles.

    Just a couple of ideas to test off the top of my head.

    Of course you may need to keep experimenting with stance width and foot angle, too. It may be you haven't found that magic position for you yet that allows you to activate everything and works with your current mobility.