T Nation

Building Front Squat Strength for Rugby Athlete


Hi Christian,

I’m looking for advice on program guidance for specifically building front squat strength. I’m a 25 y/o semi-pro rugby player, 6’3" and 222lbs. I have long limbs, therefore as a result front squatting feels more natural. I’ve been training with weights on/off for around 6-7 years & unfortunately have never built any real admirable strength, due to yo-yo-ing between training programs, prioritising fitness and not eating enough calories.

It is advised that I train twice weekly until the end of the season in April. Either on the day after the game (Sunday) or Monday & Wednesday. Ideally I would like to front squat for both sessions and see steady improvement for as long as possible. My 1RM has only ever hit roughly 245 lbs (110kg) for the front squat and I would like to surpass 1.3 x body weight within 3-4 months. I believe that poor glute activation, weakness in the upper back and core strength are holding me back.

I have had a look at other advice you have published with regards to front squatting Front Squat Programming - however, is there any way I could replicate a similar approach to 2 days per week? Ideally I would like to be able to also do at least 1 upper body push & 1 upper body pull exercise for both sessions. I have access to a power rack, but unfortunately no pins.

Any advice on the approach I should take over the next few months or however long would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time,


Getting a big lift to go up at your level of experience is about 1) fixing weaknesses and 2) improving technical efficiency

The one life that would really help you is the Frankenstein squat from the bottom (starting the bar from pins):

(as a bonus you get to see my singing skills)

This movement is awesome to strengthen the torso and upper back rigidity in the front squat.

I would also recommend the fixed weight progression for your front squat:

Using about 75-80% of your max… keep the same weight every week.

WEEK 1: 4 x 3-5 reps, regular reps
WEEK 2: 4 x 3-5 reps with a 2 sec pause during the eccentric (lowering) at the mid-range
WEEK 3: 4 x 3-5 reps with a 2 sec pause during the CONCENTRIC (lifting) at the mid-range
WEEK 4: 4 x 3-5 repos with a 2 sec pause during BOTH the concentric and eccentric

After 4 weeks you would add 5kg and start the cycle over

It is important to not allow yourself to cheat by bending forward, only allow technically solid rep, even if that means starting a bit lighter.

I would do the Frankenstein squats on one day and the fixed weight progression on front squats the other day… On the Frankenstein I’d do something like 5 sets of 3, resetting on every rep. Start from your bottom position.


Hi Christian,

Thank you for the feedback, much appreciated. I will implement both the fixed weight progression and Frankenstein squats from pins into my program.

Just a couple of final questions:

  • Out of the two which would be more taxing on the nervous system? I’m guessing it would be wiser to do the fixed weight progression sets earlier in the week (Sunday/Monday) & then the Frankenstein sets on a Wednesday (3 days before I play rugby)?

  • Is there any guideline with regards to the weight used for 5 sets of 3 on the Frankenstein squats please? Can I use a certain percentage of full front squat 1RM to start off with and say try to add 2.5kg every week?

Many thanks,