T Nation

Front or Zercher Squats...


Does anyone do these? I just can't seem to get comfortable holding the bar on front squats. Any suggestions would be welcomed. Thanks!


what do you find uncomfortable about them? Grip?


i have tried doing front squats the "conventional" way also, like an olympic lifter. i don't seem to have the flexibility in my elbows. i prefer zercher squats if i'm not doing back squats. if you can't go heavy enough like this, try moving the bar up to your shoulders, but still in a zercher type movement, ie arms crossed.


If you do a clean-grip front squat, make sure that your back is very tight, which will help force your elbows up. Your hands should merely be for stability, so loosen up.

And yes, front squats feel weird on your shoulders at first. They just take a bit of time to get used to.


have you considered the possibility that things take time to learn ?

try it for eight weeks.
that's eight workouts -87654321.
come back and tell me you let a simple front squat beat you.

front squat every day for 2 weeks.

big big helpful hint:
learn(there's that word "learn" again) to balance the bar on your clavicles while you hold your arms out in front of you. walk back and forth. squat like a zombie. add some weight.

optional: wave at girls w/ one hand and flip off waiters for the rack w/ the other.


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. If you will take a couple of weeks to practice the clean grip front squat, I promise that the movement will eventually feel completely natural to you.

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.

If you are sick and demented individual (which narrows it down to the entire membership of this board) then consider doing a set of front squats-say for 8-10 reps, rack the bar and immediately put the bar on your back and do back squats with the same weight for the same number of reps!!!

Front squats will produce lower body strength, 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!

Hope that Helps



thats great advice... i'm gona bear that in mind tomorow when i do mine.

To original poster, i started them a few months ago, and it took me maybe 2 weeks to learn, but now they are one of my fav movements... definatly worth sticking to and learning properly.


Front and Zercher Squats are two totally different exercises. Zercher Squats tend to work the posterior chain a lot more.


thanks for the advice everyone...



If that giant, fat Iranian Hossein Rezazadeh, Paul Anderson, Shane Hamman, and all the giant soviet era superheavyweights can find the flexibility to do an olympic style front squatso can we. It just takes some practice. These guys have huge arms and shoulders and can still get in this position...

2. Front Squats: Quads, lowerback, Abs. If you lean forward in the squat, these can help. Will make you core strong.

Zercher Squat: posterior chain, great for upping your deadlift, will also give your biceps the workout of their life if you go heavy enough.


Not to nitpick but I definitely disagree with the biceps comment, and I can zercher squat over 315. Maybe I am not going heavy enough.

In any case I was under the impression that the biceps were forearm flexors, in which case a bar that remains static at the elbow joint shouldn't put much of a load, if any, on the biceps. If you let the bar roll down the forearm (ouch!) then I guess maybe, but the sheer pain of doing that would probably compromise the safety of anyone's lift.


I dunno, maybe it is because I use a thick bar.... but damn my biceps are sore afterwards. The most I have ever donr is 405 for 3 singles and i unrack the weight and walk it back, if that makes a difference.


That static hold is a killer on my biceps. I usually feel sore after zerchers.


Whether it actually works the biceps is difficult to determine (they do hold the bar in place so they probably work a little bit; imagine if you didn't have any forearms, the bar would roll right down your upper arm onto the floor), but the soreness is probably due to the weight sitting on the muscle rather than the muscle being worked.

Anyways I cup one palm in the other so this probably lessens the work my biceps are doing.


ok then...can someone explain the diff between front and zercher?


front squat - bar is held and balanced on the shoulders
Zercher - bar is held in the crux of the elbows.