T Nation

Clean Grip/Zombie Front Squat Question


Trying to troubleshoot my front squat.

I’ve been finding that I can squat roughly the same amount of weight with a clean grip as with a zombie set up, but my form feels far cleaner with the zombie set up. My torso position and overall integrity markedly improves when I zombie front squat.

Would this be due to tightness of the shoulder/chest or weakness when externally rotating the elbows to rack the bar? Trying to fix my upper back caving during heavy cleans.


I’ve had similar issues. I found doing front squats while gripping straps is the ticket for me. It feels SO much better and my numbers went up day 1 because of how comfortable it was compared to the clean grip. But if you’re trying to make corrections to improve your clean position, sorry. I suck at cleans


Yeah, my focus is on Olympic lifts, thus fixing my rack position is important


When doing front squats/clean do you keep your full grip in the front rack or are you holding the bar with your fingers only?


I’ve experimented with both; I usually just hold with my fingers, focusing on keeping my arm relaxed and driving my elbows up and supporting the bar with my torso.

I can keep the full grip and it definitely feels a lot more secure, but I feel my elbows aren’t high enough when I do it.


Work on keeping a full grip while having the elbows up. A full grip REALLY helps maintain tension in the upper back both when front squatting and cleaning. I have all my lifters go for a full grip even if that means a regression in weight or difficulty of the exercise for a while.


Cool, much appreciated as always, Coach!
Took a full two weeks off so now is a perfect time to get some technical flaws out and dial technique in.


At first it will feel weird on your cleans. But it is well worth making the effort to change that


I just remember a few coaches advising against it, saying the arm should be relaxed, but maybe I was confusing that position with what’s advised for initiating the jerk.

I’ve tried cleans with it, and it cleaned up my form very quickly, bar stayed close/didn’t crash down, and the racking was very crisp. I guess I should stop second guessing myself and go with what seems intuitive.


Yes it is likely for the jerk, to avoid driving with the arms first. But even then I still recommend keeping a full grip on jerk as it gives the hands a greater contact with the bar which allows better force transfer. Pretty much no high level Olympic lifter cleans or jerk with an open grip


Put it into effect today; lift changing. Everything feels better, no more caving on my front squats, and my torso position is much better.

Would the initial discomfort come from the wrist/elbow loosening up?

Also, I’ve noticed that almost exclusively after back squatting I get gnarly trigger points in my scapula/trapezius area, especially where the trapezius attaches near the acromium. Have you experienced this/ got any ideas how to prevent it?


It is likely due to lack to triceps/lats flexibility forcing the wrists to compensate and the elbows would of course absorb a lot of force. Work on triceps and lat mobility and the problem should be fixed in no time


Understood. I’ve spent lots of time reflecting on why I’ve stalled on many lifts, and it came down to neglecting isolation movements; I’ve done no work for my extremities and with long limbs, it’s been holding me back quite a bit.

I’ve been doing my best with what I have; I don’t have dumbbells or anything of the sort, just my barbell/squat stands/bumper plates. Would barbell triceps extensions as isolation work for the long head and developing flexibility in the tricep?

Also, my front delts are lagging very badly. On top of snatches and push presses/dips, what would be best to add?