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Front squats are no joke

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
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I've had a nagging shoulder injury for a long time now and every time I squat it aggrivates it just the way I have to bend my shoulder to grab the bar on the right side. So today I decided to give front squats a try for the first time.

And damn are they very strange/odd feeling.

I watched a couple videos on youtube prior in order to get the proper form down. I simply am not close to being flexible enough in my wrists to use the clean grip, so I opted to cross my arms and just use my hands to help keep the bar in place on my shoulders.

I first started with the bar and instantly noticed how wobbly it felt, even without weight. Then tried 95lbs and it actually felt more stable with some weight on without lol.

I then tried 135 and got 10 reps pretty easily, but damn it just felt odd. I was going slow to try and get the form down and I noticed my body shaking quite a bit just not being used to this form.

I put on 10lbs more on each side than did 2 more sets of 155lbs, and the second set of that I started to feel a bit more comfortable with them. There was one rep in my 1st set of 155lbs that I thought I was going to fall back when I stabilized with my core and was fine. I finally just tried 165lbs for my last set and did 6 of them and felt okay about my first attempt at front squats.

When I do normal squats I usually start with 275lbs and do 8 or so, then 295 and do 8, then end with 6-8 of 315lbs. That's just for reference, and only being able to do 165lbs front squat felt super humbling, but it also felt good to try them and kind of feel a bit better doing them at the end of the sets. I definitely feel like your core gets noticeably more work with these, trying to stay vertical, than doing normal squats. I'm sure it's also just that I'm completely not used to them.

Anyone have experience doing them? Just curious to hear other opinions.
 

repoman0

Diamond Member
Jun 17, 2010
3,394
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It’s much more of a quad exercise than normal back squats. I used to do one day of front squats per two days of back squats and have been thinking about adding them back in. At the time my front squat was around 195 for sets of five and back squat around 235, so you can close that gap quite a bit.

Can’t imagine doing them with arms crossed grip though, seems like it’d be super unstable. I have small flexible girly wrists so clean grip is no problem. In fact I started doing them in the first place because I could power clean (and therefore full clean) more weight than I could front squat back up. Never closed the gap lol.
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
It’s much more of a quad exercise than normal back squats. I used to do one day of front squats per two days of back squats and have been thinking about adding them back in. At the time my front squat was around 195 for sets of five and back squat around 235, so you can close that gap quite a bit.

Can’t imagine doing them with arms crossed grip though, seems like it’d be super unstable. I have small flexible girly wrists so clean grip is no problem. In fact I started doing them in the first place because I could power clean (and therefore full clean) more weight than I could front squat back up. Never closed the gap lol.
My arms are also pretty long though. Like even if I had the flexibility to hold it clean grip, with my elbows pointed up in what I think is the proper position based on videos I saw, my wrists are like at the side of my head so it's strange.

The bar actually didn't really feel unstable. Like when I put my shoulders in the position to front squat and have my arms crossed, my shoulders stick up and kind of create a little valley between my shoulders and my collar bone, and the bar rested perfectly in that spot. It's kind of hard for me to explain though so not sure if that makes sense what I said.

And yeah, I definitely noticed it more in my quads than normal squats. I did leg presses right after (which I normally did after squats) and can definitely feel so much more glute muscle firing in leg presses than front squats.
 

repoman0

Diamond Member
Jun 17, 2010
3,394
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My arms are also pretty long though. Like even if I had the flexibility to hold it clean grip, with my elbows pointed up in what I think is the proper position based on videos I saw, my wrists are like at the side of my head so it's strange.

The bar actually didn't really feel unstable. Like when I put my shoulders in the position to front squat and have my arms crossed, my shoulders stick up and kind of create a little valley between my shoulders and my collar bone, and the bar rested perfectly in that spot. It's kind of hard for me to explain though so not sure if that makes sense what I said.

And yeah, I definitely noticed it more in my quads than normal squats. I did leg presses right after (which I normally did after squats) and can definitely feel so much more glute muscle firing in leg presses than front squats.
Yeah my wrists are basically in line with my cheek bones with the clean grip, so I think what you’re describing is normal. I know what you mean about the valley, that’s how it stays in place with the clean grip too. Just flexes shoulder muscle a little more and puts it in a position to make the “valley” bigger and deeper, and therefore more stable. Based on your back squat level your shoulders are probably bigger than mine though.
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
Yeah my wrists are basically in line with my cheek bones with the clean grip, so I think what you’re describing is normal. I know what you mean about the valley, that’s how it stays in place with the clean grip too. Just flexes shoulder muscle a little more and puts it in a position to make the “valley” bigger and deeper, and therefore more stable. Based on your back squat level your shoulders are probably bigger than mine though.
Prior to my shoulder starting to hurt again, I was back up to dumbell pressing 80lbs 6-8 times. Now though I'm just doing standing barbell presses pretty light because those don't hurt my shoulder. I was doing sets of 105lbs 15x this past monday for that, which is pretty light to me. I'm hoping to get back to dumbell presses in a month or so though because I love doing them.

And my shoulder actually hurts the most when barbell bench pressing right now, so I'm doing dumbell presses for incline and flat, and doing sets of 15 with those as well. I want to get back to barbell incline because those are like my favorite chest exercise.
 

repoman0

Diamond Member
Jun 17, 2010
3,394
1,707
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Prior to my shoulder starting to hurt again, I was back up to dumbell pressing 80lbs 6-8 times. Now though I'm just doing standing barbell presses pretty light because those don't hurt my shoulder. I was doing sets of 105lbs 15x this past monday for that, which is pretty light to me. I'm hoping to get back to dumbell presses in a month or so though because I love doing them.

And my shoulder actually hurts the most when barbell bench pressing right now, so I'm doing dumbell presses for incline and flat, and doing sets of 15 with those as well. I want to get back to barbell incline because those are like my favorite chest exercise.
My right shoulder always hurts at first after not working out for a while. I took an extended break recently due to covid, which is why I’m pretty much starting from scratch over the past few months. It was killing me for the first few weeks, but now is pain and discomfort free for all chest and shoulder exercises. It’s definitely a little messed up but putting some muscle on it fixes whatever it is lol.

My barbell overhead press is 90lb for sets of 10 right now or 100lb for 5. Best I ever got “before” was 135 for 5. I’m ~160 lb body weight though. I’m assuming pretty different build based on your numbers.
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
My right shoulder always hurts at first after not working out for a while. I took an extended break recently due to covid, which is why I’m pretty much starting from scratch over the past few months. It was killing me for the first few weeks, but now is pain and discomfort free for all chest and shoulder exercises. It’s definitely a little messed up but putting some muscle on it fixes whatever it is lol.

My barbell overhead press is 90lb for sets of 10 right now or 100lb for 5. Best I ever got “before” was 135 for 5. I’m ~160 lb body weight though. I’m assuming pretty different build based on your numbers.
Yeah I'm usually lingering between 200-210, around 195 when I am at my leanest. I used to do standing barbell presses but once I got up to repping 155lbs I definitely noticed it was not comfortable on my back so I stopped them. It's been years since I was doing them and got up that high though.
 

repoman0

Diamond Member
Jun 17, 2010
3,394
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Yeah I'm usually lingering between 200-210, around 195 when I am at my leanest. I used to do standing barbell presses but once I got up to repping 155lbs I definitely noticed it was not comfortable on my back so I stopped them. It's been years since I was doing them and got up that high though.
I do a “sitting overhead press” now that I bought all my gear and put it in my low ceiling basement. But yeah you really need to keep a super tight core for them to keep your spine neutral throughout, same thing applies for my ghetto sitting on the bench version. I could imagine that becoming very difficult when weight gets up that high. It’s very much a full body exercise.
 

deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
5,902
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I'd be interested in video of the form - that's one of the hardest things to correct on your own with front squats. Like you noted, don't worry as much about your grip - yes a clean grip (remember you don't have to fully grip the bar in a front rack) - will give you the most transition to actual cleans, more stability, etc, but the crossed grip is something I give a lot of my athletes who have poor shoulder and wrist mobility.

Other thing with front squats is to not get as worried about your knees tracking over your toes. Back squats are always taught to push back to prevent your knees going too far over the toes, but in front squats (if you have the ankle mobility) your knees will naturally track over unless you have excellent hip mobility.

My best front squat is in the 305/325 range and best back squat around 365 or so, so that should give you a fairly good feel of what you can generally do in terms of your BS (about 20% lower) (this was at ~185 BW).

If your shoulder is giving you problems and you still like back squats, see if you can get a safety bar, or get one of the conversion straps https://www.amazon.com/Spud-Inc-Attaches-Powerlifting-Bodybuilding/dp/B07WX51FQ2/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=Safety+Squat+Bar&qid=1615473445&sr=8-3
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
I did them again today and felt more comfortable.

After warming up, I did the following working sets

155x8
165x8
175x8

I definitely felt more stable this go around for sure. I tried 185 after those 3 and got it 6 times easily, probably could have done 8 but I opted not to go for more since I still am new to them. So it's definitely starting to feel a bit more comfortable.

I actually find it "easier" when I put on more weight. Like my warm ups I did just the bar, then 95, then 135. The more weight I put on the more stable I felt.

My shoulder is getting better I think but I'll probably stick to these for at least a month or so and see how I feel after doing them for a period of time.
 

deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
5,902
350
126
I did them again today and felt more comfortable.

After warming up, I did the following working sets

155x8
165x8
175x8

I definitely felt more stable this go around for sure. I tried 185 after those 3 and got it 6 times easily, probably could have done 8 but I opted not to go for more since I still am new to them. So it's definitely starting to feel a bit more comfortable.

I actually find it "easier" when I put on more weight. Like my warm ups I did just the bar, then 95, then 135. The more weight I put on the more stable I felt.

My shoulder is getting better I think but I'll probably stick to these for at least a month or so and see how I feel after doing them for a period of time.
Playing around with waves will get you comfortable with heavier weights also without a lot of volume.

Try out 165x8 / 175x6 / 185x4 / 175x8 / 185x6 / 195x4

Love doing waves. You can also do them the other direction as drop sets.
 

killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
5,880
372
126
It’s much more of a quad exercise than normal back squats. I used to do one day of front squats per two days of back squats and have been thinking about adding them back in. At the time my front squat was around 195 for sets of five and back squat around 235, so you can close that gap quite a bit.

Can’t imagine doing them with arms crossed grip though, seems like it’d be super unstable. I have small flexible girly wrists so clean grip is no problem. In fact I started doing them in the first place because I could power clean (and therefore full clean) more weight than I could front squat back up. Never closed the gap lol.
i cant bend my arms and must use the crossed arm technique as well. maybe if you have rubber wrists or something :p love front squats never injure my back with them like when i do ass to ankles regular squats.
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
So apparently today I pulled my right groin muscle doing legs. I don't even know exactly when it happened either and did my normal full leg workout lol.

But damn, it hurts to walk right now. I'm really hoping it will be much better in the morning and not worse.
 

killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
5,880
372
126
So apparently today I pulled my right groin muscle doing legs. I don't even know exactly when it happened either and did my normal full leg workout lol.

But damn, it hurts to walk right now. I'm really hoping it will be much better in the morning and not worse.
damn have you pulled your groin before? i never go as heavy as i can for fear of injuries, how long do you plan on taking off leg work outs (even tho im sure even a arm work out would be painful at this point)
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
damn have you pulled your groin before? i never go as heavy as i can for fear of injuries, how long do you plan on taking off leg work outs (even tho im sure even a arm work out would be painful at this point)
I had pulled it long ago playing football.

Last night I took advil and the pain went away big time and this morning it's basically non-existant.

So maybe I just did something strange to it last evening or something that was just very temp.
 

deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
5,902
350
126
I had pulled it long ago playing football.

Last night I took advil and the pain went away big time and this morning it's basically non-existant.

So maybe I just did something strange to it last evening or something that was just very temp.
If you have bands, I definitely recommend some good abductor and adductor warmup before front squats. Since there is more emphasis on the quads over the glutes, if you don't do a good job driving your knees out you can get really wrecked on the insides of your thighs which may feel like groin. YMMV
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
Anyone have any pointers on how to get your wrists flexible enough to use the proper clean grip for front squatting?

Last week when I was doing front squats, I just didn't like how hard it is to try and hold the bar with cross grip when going a little heavier, and when I did my 5th rep of 185, the bar simply rolled off my left shoulder and I had to drop it onto the squat rack. It's not even that 185 is too heavy, it's just trying to keep it in the right position without it rolling was tough.

So yesterday when I did legs I tried doing front squats with the clean grip, a bit wider than I had seen for comfort purposes, wrists back and elbows up, and when I did my first warmup set with 25's on each side, it felt fantastic. Like holding it in that position and doing the front squat motion felt much better than the cross grip. I felt so much more balanced.

I then put a 45 on each side and tried it again, but my left wrist was just hurting. I did 2 reps and again, it felt fantastic as far as the squat position/feel goes, however my left wrist was just in pain so I stopped.

I ended up doing normal squats and going lighter to test out my shoulder, and thankfully it feels better now and I may go back to them. My left wrist was actually bothering me on normal squats holding it just because doing the front squat first, but I put on my wrist straps and it helped a bit.

But I would like to be able to do front squats with the right grip and am wondering how I can get my wrists used to that position.
 

repoman0

Diamond Member
Jun 17, 2010
3,394
1,707
136
Anyone have any pointers on how to get your wrists flexible enough to use the proper clean grip for front squatting?

Last week when I was doing front squats, I just didn't like how hard it is to try and hold the bar with cross grip when going a little heavier, and when I did my 5th rep of 185, the bar simply rolled off my left shoulder and I had to drop it onto the squat rack. It's not even that 185 is too heavy, it's just trying to keep it in the right position without it rolling was tough.

So yesterday when I did legs I tried doing front squats with the clean grip, a bit wider than I had seen for comfort purposes, wrists back and elbows up, and when I did my first warmup set with 25's on each side, it felt fantastic. Like holding it in that position and doing the front squat motion felt much better than the cross grip. I felt so much more balanced.

I then put a 45 on each side and tried it again, but my left wrist was just hurting. I did 2 reps and again, it felt fantastic as far as the squat position/feel goes, however my left wrist was just in pain so I stopped.

I ended up doing normal squats and going lighter to test out my shoulder, and thankfully it feels better now and I may go back to them. My left wrist was actually bothering me on normal squats holding it just because doing the front squat first, but I put on my wrist straps and it helped a bit.

But I would like to be able to do front squats with the right grip and am wondering how I can get my wrists used to that position.
I would use the same principles you’d use for any stretching. Couple times a day hold each wrist back for 30 seconds for a couple “reps” with the other hand so you can feel the muscles, tendons and ligaments stretching out without it feeling too uncomfortable. Luckily it’s easy to do that one while sitting at a computer and thinking or taking a quick break.
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
I would use the same principles you’d use for any stretching. Couple times a day hold each wrist back for 30 seconds for a couple “reps” with the other hand so you can feel the muscles, tendons and ligaments stretching out without it feeling too uncomfortable. Luckily it’s easy to do that one while sitting at a computer and thinking or taking a quick break.
Yeah I will give that a go until I go next week and see how it feels. I wasn't sure if there were specific exercises that helped with it as well.
 

pauldun170

Diamond Member
Sep 26, 2011
7,950
3,343
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Anyone have any pointers on how to get your wrists flexible enough to use the proper clean grip for front squatting?

Last week when I was doing front squats, I just didn't like how hard it is to try and hold the bar with cross grip when going a little heavier, and when I did my 5th rep of 185, the bar simply rolled off my left shoulder and I had to drop it onto the squat rack. It's not even that 185 is too heavy, it's just trying to keep it in the right position without it rolling was tough.

So yesterday when I did legs I tried doing front squats with the clean grip, a bit wider than I had seen for comfort purposes, wrists back and elbows up, and when I did my first warmup set with 25's on each side, it felt fantastic. Like holding it in that position and doing the front squat motion felt much better than the cross grip. I felt so much more balanced.

I then put a 45 on each side and tried it again, but my left wrist was just hurting. I did 2 reps and again, it felt fantastic as far as the squat position/feel goes, however my left wrist was just in pain so I stopped.

I ended up doing normal squats and going lighter to test out my shoulder, and thankfully it feels better now and I may go back to them. My left wrist was actually bothering me on normal squats holding it just because doing the front squat first, but I put on my wrist straps and it helped a bit.

But I would like to be able to do front squats with the right grip and am wondering how I can get my wrists used to that position.
Bruh
Wall stretch warm ups
Elbows up
Profit

Or go gangsta and go no hands

It's the shelf thats important. Not the finger tips
 
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deadlyapp

Diamond Member
Apr 25, 2004
5,902
350
126
Time is the only thing that will help. Wrist flexibility is a hard one to train - just need to spend time doing it. Lots of good wrist exercises out there. The one I use the most is to kneel on all fours, palms flat to floor, arms locked out, fingers stretched forward. Rock front to back for about 30s-1m then start rotating the hands until fingertips are pointing towards you, keep rocking. It will be uncomfortable.
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
50,860
3,552
126
So I tried them again today and just pushed through the discomfort. I was wearing my wrist straps for all sets.

I definitely felt better on the 135lbs this time than last week. Like last week I couldn't do 3 or 4 before I had to stop cause it hurt. This time I feel like I started to figure out a position to keep my wrists from not hurting and I did 2 sets of 10 easily. After every set when I put the bar on the rack, my wrists definitely ached. But like 2 minutes later they felt okay.

Then I did 155lbs 8x and I felt a bit of discomfort. After that set my wrists again ached, more than previously, but after a minute or two it wasn't as bad and I did one more set of 175lbs and this felt a bit more uncomfortable. I just did 3 reps and stopped because I figure I might as well not hurt myself and just ease into this.

But it definitely felt "better" than last week even though it hurt a bit, but I also think I'm starting to get the grip/form down better. I definitely can go much deeper with this grip than the cross arm grip just because of the way the bar is balanced and my overall balance/stability.
 

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