T Nation

Front Squat Help

I tried front squats for the first time today, and they felt pretty shitty setup-wise. Can anybody point me in the direction of good tutotial, or does anyone have some tips to properly executing the front squat?

What exactly is the problem?

Just getting the bar in place felt pretty awkward, and it really dug into my collarbones. I was more or less doing a front raise to keep the bar in place since I couldn’t find a nice “shelf” to rest the bar on like during back squats. I was using a cross-grip, also.

When my brother first showed me how to do it properly, he actually extended both arms fully in front of him to demonstrate how the bar was just sitting in place, between his collarbones, and front delts (which creates a little ‘pit’ if done properly). Admitedly it will be awkward when you start doing it, as the need to keep your elbows slightly elevated will make the bar roll into your neck (until you get the hang of balancing it).


Just did my front squats this morning. I use cross grip too. Here’s a few of things that may or may not help.

  1. Make sure you’ve centered the bar. It’s awkward enough without having to try to adjust for one side sticking out too far.

  2. Elbows up. I think it’s natural as you go into the hole that you’re elbows will drop unless you’re intensionally keeping them up. When you’re elbows drop, the weight will go towards your arms.

  3. Try to find a good shelf spot for the bar. I’ve found a good spot where it’s on the collar bone and top/front of my shoulders. Again, elbows up when you’re setting up will probably help you find the right groove for the bar.

Keep at them. I used to feel like I was being strangled by the bar, but eventually that stopped and I got a decent shelf for the bar. I go with a narrower stance on front squats to involve my quads more.

Good luck.

EDIT: Sorry. Just noticed this is in the bodybuilding forum and I am not a bodybuilder. Apologies.

For me the ‘shelf’ is right behind my clavicle on the neck, and between the traps and front delt on the shoulders. If the bar rolls back I choke, but that is supposed to be normal.

Thanks for all the repsonses guys. I think the elbows pointing down as I descended was the biggest problem, I’ll correct that next week when I do em again.

(EDIT: I think the bear in my avatar is the same bear that’s in Aeyogi’s)

Do them often, and they’ll become “comfortable” pretty quickly. If you get your elbows up high, it will raise the bar a bit and probably be a bit more comfortable.

Also, I only put my first three fingers on the bar (the pinky goes on the other side) which helps a bit with flexibility.

And tuck your chin the best you can so you are looking forward, and try to pull your shoulder blades back a bit.

But ya, if you do them often, and start lifting heavier weights for less reps, you’ll get used to it.

Using straps to hold the bar can help.

They feel a lot less awkward as your delts, upper chest and bis thicken up over time…

I use the strap-trick DD posted on my heavier set(s), but on lighter sets I just raise my arms and that’s it.

Front Squats felt terribly uncomfortable even with proper setup back when I was 180 (started doing them for the first time then I think) to 220… Ended up rarely doing them as a result. Now I like them a lot better than back squats.

That strap trick looks interesting, I’ve seen something like that done with two pairs of locking pliers as well. And as C_C mentioned, I think having some more meat to rest the bar on will help a lot.

Basically do it like this guy.

Heels heels heels
Push knees out on the descent.
Elbows/chest up
Tight core/upper back
Contract glutes hard in the bottom to propel you upward
Squat down, not back

Actively pushing the knees out is also something I never really though about. I just kinda flopped down in the hole. Thanks Andy.

there have already been a lot of good responses.

i started doing front squats because i sucked at them. now i feel more comfortable doing them than back squats.

your ability to hold the bar in place comfortably will have a lot to do with the amount of mass you have on your front delts. one of my training partners has had difficulty doing front squats for this reason. we’ve been really working on getting his shoulders bigger and as a result, he’s getting better at front squats.

i also front squat the same way i do back squats- i force my knees out as i decend and on the way up. doing so allows the bar to stay as close to my hips as possible throughout the lift.

keeping the elbows high by really arching and pushing the chest high is another important part. i do my warmup sets without hands. this reinforces having the bar in the groove behind the delts and elbows up.

other than that, it’s just practice… practice.

for what it’s worth, i learned to do them first using a smith machine (90 degree - the angled ones are terrible) to get the bar placement on my shoulders down well enough, then once i was comfortable w/ that aspect, i moved on to doing them properly w/ free weights. obviously the smith doesn’t help you learn the balance aspect, just the bar placement, but it’s something to consider trying (even though it isn’t very T-Nation approved badass). i think the biggest aspect of learning front squats properly though, was one day i just decided to do about 15 light sets of them until my body just sort-of found it’s own path where the mechanics work out best. (so basically, the practice practice practice theory restated…)

Thanks for the help everyone. I did front squats again earlier today and doubled the reps I did last week.

I suck at them bad with a regular bar…so I cheat with my EFS YOKE bar. the paddling makes it NICE…plus the camber of the bar makes it a little bit different than normal.