T Nation

Can't Do Front Squats, What to Do?


For me, front squats choke me half to death and I don't feel comfortable when doing them and therefore I can't full concentrate and focus when doing the lift.

For my dad(who is 60 but very athletic and still strong, but loves to complain) he simply won't be able to do them. What should we/he do when instead of doing front squats? We are doing the TBT program.

also, how should we add stuff to the program? Is the 4x6 day a good day to add a shoulder workout? is the 5x5 a good day to add an extra back workout? Is the 3x6 day a good day to add...

well i'm not really sure, what could i add with that rep setup?


I usually have the same choking problem when doing heavy front squats, but yesterday i did some oly lifting doing powerclean followed by front squat followed by push press and i never felt a thing. I just realized this after reading your post. I think the bar was finding the perfect groove during the catch of the powerclean. see if this works for you. laters pk


First off, don't use the arms crossed method. If you don't have enough flexibility to use the proper "clean" grip you should prioritize gaining that flexibility. Other than that, toughen up!

Hack squats are a decent alternative or you can stick to the leg press, Nancy. It's not a bad alternative for quads actually.


Keep doing them you'll get used to it and figure out the right position for it.


First off, if its choking you that means its rolling back too far. The bar position should be right behind the delts, there's kind've a groove there un top of your collar bone. If its coming out of the groove, that means there's too much extra motion, your upper body should stay locked into place.

If that doesn't help, try doing them with a clean grip. Alot of people(including me) don't do them this way because it can be hard on the wrists.

On the program it says you can do hack squats or full back barbell squats, so either of those will work, I'd recommend back squats.


You can try using clean straps on the bar to give your rick a break. But like others have said, just keep working on it and Front Squats will start to feel much more comfortable.


if you're looking for an alternate exercise to toss in there, i'm a big fan of the bulgarian (1-legged) squat. however, the hams and glutes seem to do the majority of the work for these, at least when working with a long stance, so it's not a perfect substitute for the front squat.


THis topic has come up before. And I'll repeat what I said last time:

Front squatting is not possible for a normal human being.
Once you get enough muscle to be strong, you won't be able to do it without falling over or breaking your arms.
This is NORMAL. I repeat, this is NORMAL.
What is abnormal is the genetic mutants who CAN do a front squat without incurring bodily injury.

Don't fret. Do back squats and never look in the back.


get a front squat harness


For the record, I've seen plenty of 'normal' people front squat with over 250lbs, not to mention olympic lifters who often front squat with massive poundages in their training.


Your form is off. If you don't have the patience to learn, then don't do them. Substitute back squats or barbell hack squats. Same with your dad.

Why are you needing to add stuff? You choose four compound exercises each day - two for upper body, two for lower body. Then choose two isolation exercises (calves, abs, arms, shoulders).

How can you not fit all that in under the normal program?


That's complete bull (and I'm being nice). I thought I couldn't do these either until I saw people doing them with 225+.

The first time I tried, I gave up after 90lbs felt too hard on my shoulders and it wasn't going to be doing much for my quads anyway. The next week I tried it again, but this time with the clean grip and it felt a LOT more comfortable, but I still couldn't seem to hold it long enough before my shoulders wore out.

The third week, I still used the clean grip but was advised to loosen my grip and hold the bar more with my fingers, and that, along with stretching my wrists, helped a lot.

I'm now up to using 145lbs for sets of 10. My back squat is at 305 for sets of 8.

Eventually I think I'll be able to add more weight, but for now I still need to get used to the form and feel of this excersize that I've never done before a month ago.

Point being, keep trying and your shoulders will get used to it and your wrists should also get more flexable (if you use a clean grip).

Many "normal" people can and should do these, especially if you're used to a wider back squat, like me, and may have been neglecting the quads.

I'm so glad I kept trying these. It was amazing how quickly my shoulders got used to them, and now my quads will benefit greatly because of them.


Tubesteak Boogie.


Front Squats

The barbell front squat is a phenomenal, yet seldom performed version of the regular barbell squat. This exercise directs a great deal of focus onto the front part of the thigh, especially the vastus medalis, which is the part of the lower thigh above the knee that looks like a teardrop, the rectus femoris, or center thigh, and the hamstrings. There is also an effect on the hips, lower back and to some extent, the abdominal wall.

The front squat is not a replacement for the back squat, but if done effectively, can be a tremendous boost to overall lower body strength, development and flexibility.

Front squats are tricky to get used to-but its important that you develop the technical skills needed to become comfortable with this movement. In the majority of cases, people feel awkward when first attempting this exercise, which often results in them failing to include it in their routine. This movement takes a certain amount of practice and there is a certain level of initial pain and discomfort which the body will adapt to over a period of time-just like when you first begin deadlifting-it takes time for the calluses to develop, but once they are there, you never think about it again-the same is true when you first begin performing the front squat.

The benefits of including the front squat in a training routine can be tremendous if performed correctly. However, many people have difficulty with its performance because of the stress that it can put on the wrists-Fortunately there are several ways to facilitate and work around this.

Begin by approaching the barbell in the squat racks and get underneath the bar and place it across your clavicles, as close to the base of the neck as possible. You can use some padding across the upper chest or what seems to give some added cushioning and traction is to simply wear an extra heavy sweat shirt when doing front squats. Raise your arms up until the bar is resting on the groove between the front and middle deltoid. You now have several options for hand placement and support.

You can take a slightly wider than shoulder grip on the bar with the exact same position as if you were cleaning the weight from the floor. This is the best and most stable position, but it is difficult for those with very large arms, those with short arms, those who lack sufficient wrist flexibility, or those with a history of wrist and hand trauma. You will find that increased practice will increase the flexibility of your wrists and hands.

You may also want to practice actually cleaning the weight from the floor and then performing the front squat-doing this seems to set the bar into a natural position for most people. If you still lack wrist flexibility you can still support and balance the bar by keeping an open hand and just using the fingertips to steady the bar across the shoulders. Remember that you only need to support the bar with the tips of your fingers. I use the three middle fingers of my hands to steady the bar and the top part of the phalanges only come in contact with the bar.

Another trick is to take a pair of wrist straps and loop them tightly around the bar where your hands would normally be placed. Tie a knot in the end of the straps and then grab the base of each strap with the fists facing each other. This will put you into the same position as if you were using the normal front squat position. Keep your elbows high and parallel to the floor and you are ready to squat. The last method is to cross the arms across the chest, which is a popular method that bodybuilders use when doing front squats-this works especially well for those with thick development in the upper chest and shoulder region, but it is not as stable as the previous methods.

You will want to begin this exercise with relatively light poundage-You will not be able to handle as much weight in the front squat as you can with a regular squat. It will take some time and practice to get used to the balance and the feel of the exercise bar.

Take a stance that is about shoulder width with the toes pointed either straight ahead or slightly out. Looking straight ahead, take a breath and tighten your back muscles. When going down, you need to keep your knees lined up over the tops of your feet. Descend slowly all the way to the bottom position and without bouncing, start to release your breath and drive the bar back up. Keep your back muscles contracted and your elbows up during the entire movement.

The real key is to hit rock bottom depth without any kind of bouncing or other ballistic activity. I realize that many fitness experts caution against full squat movements, but I feel that as long as the technique is correct, and there is no bouncing at the bottom, squatting rock bottom is the way to go.

Front squats will produce quad roundness and sweeps like no other exercise. The reason they are seldom performed is because they are so darn tough and demanding-but the results will be worth it!


Man, no kidding. :slightly_smiling:

I've posted this before. Front squats take a while to get used to the movement. It took a while before it felt right. I was stuck at 135 for months before I felt like I could finally increase the weight. Now I can comfortably front squat over 250 with either the clean grip or crossed arm style with no pain or discomfort.

Just do them and get used to them. :slightly_smiling: You can also go buy the Sting Ray and try that. I didn't like it myself, but some people swear by it.


Yah, normal if you don't have delts to put the bar on.......

I use front squats as an alternitave to back squats when I start to experience lower back pain. Get your stance out at least to sholder width. I find this helps keep your torso erect. The "clean" grip is the best position for holding the bar in place.

Major Dan doesn't know what he is talking about.