T Nation

Front Squat Knee Travel



I'm not an olympic lifter; I train primarily for strength and aesthetics, but I figured you guys know front squats the best so I thought I'd ask here :slightly_smiling:

Lately I have been experiencing some knee pain. When I squat with bodyweight my left knee cracks and I get some pain just above the knee caps. I feel this pain when I flex my knee joint fully as well. It's not severe as I almost don't feel it at all when I train, but it's there none the less.

Recently I acquired a pair of Do-Win olympic lifting shoes. These allow me to front squat deeper, but with more knee travel. I've heard that too much knee travel in front of the toes may be harmful when squatting. I tried to google around, but it seems like people disagree about this, so I wonder if you guys could take a look at my front squat form and tell me if I'm letting my knees go too much forward. I filmed a recent session from three different angles; the last one from the side. Here's the YT clip:

Thanks! :slightly_smiling:

  • cyberwar


I have an injury that sounds exactly like yours. It started off as very minor and felt a lot like the pain felt when a muscle is sore but it got worse and worse. A doctor suggested its tendonitis, another suggested its a patella tracking issue. I'm still unsure as to what it is.

Mine however was caused from training too much, too often, too quickly... I think. There are many things that factor into why it started hurting. You can try a bit wider stance to keep the knees a bit more behind, but there are many many lifters who have their knees go more forward than their toes in a deep squat. In a parallel-powerlifting squat it might be possible to keep them behind. In a deep squat though, its probably only going to be possible for lifters with short legs.

It's highly likely that I'll be able to ask a coach and go to another doctor who will both be much more knowledgable about weightlifting and be able to figure out what exactly it is. and how to fix it. I'll let you know if that happens.

The only difference is that my knee didn't make any popping/crack sounds. Although it does them now but there's no pain with the pop.


I don't see anything wrong with your squat!! You could widen your stance somewhat, but I wouldn't do it by much. Have you increased your frequency or volume recently?? This can cause the pain there from what I've read. I've never gotten it, but I know several people who have and it's usually from one or both of those things!!


knees traveling forwards is okay. some peoples knees will travel forwards more than others. how far forwards they need to travel depends (among other things) on the relative length of your femurs.

knees caving in (coming closer to your midline than your ankles / toes) isn't good.
smashing meaty calves into meaty thighs in the hole can put some nasty pressure on the knees as well.

i would try and see someone about your knee issue. doesn't sound good that you have pain on knee flexion.


Knees travelling forwards is fine.

Your squats look good. You could widen your stance a smide though but it's really personal preference as it's not uber narrow.



Thanks. The cracking sound itself doesn't cause any pain, but the left knee feels sore when I put it into full flexion, and I experience a general soreness when I get up and walk, though it seems to go away after I have moved around some.

Thanks for answering. I recently had over two weeks off from lifting. I was out on a military exercise for 12 days, and lost about 12 - 13 kg of bodyweight. I have gained pretty much all of the weight back now, and I have been working the weights up slowly. I have increased frequency and volume just recently, but if that was the reason the pain should have appeared after a while and not as acute as it did. The only big change I did is that I switched from bare foot to olympic weightlifting shoes.

Thanks for the reply. By smashing your thighs into your calves do you mean using a really fast descent and bouncing out of the turnaround point? I think I have a relatively controlled eccentric. I have contacted a coach who is an expert in performance training and rehab, so I'll see what he has to say about the case.

Thanks. I'll try to widen it a tad, but it feels natural to have a somewhat narrow stance on front squats.

I have doubled the dose of my fish oil intake in hope that the anti-inflammatory effects will help. I'm training lower body tomorrow with deadlifts, romanians, split squats and reverse sled drags, but I will lay off front squats for another 5 days to see if they are the cause of the problem.


The only advice I can give you right now is to warm up a lot and wear a knee sleeve. Other than that the only thing that seems to help is sleeping/resting.

If you find out anything else that helps let me know as well. It's been 4 months and I've tried so very many things and nothing seems to help enough.

the recommended dosage on the fish oil i take says 1-2 capsules 3 times a day. I take 3x3 so 9 capsules a day. I also started taking something that's supposed to help with joints and tendons. Has glucosamine and stuff. I don't see any noticeable difference yet.


Don't go to rock bottom them. Go to about an inch or two off rock bottom. This will still be well below parallel for you. This should help your knees out.



I take 20 mL of fish oil per day with a pretty high EPA and DHA content. I don't have access to any other anti-inflammatory substances, and don't have a pair of knee sleeves, although I really consider getting a pair. Rest seems to help. My knees have actually been feeling better today, and I haven't really noticed any pain. I just came back from the gym where I did a lot of deadlifting, some light abdominal work and eccentric less training with a sled. My knees felt a tad sore after the sled dragging, but not as bad as they used to. I don't think it's the sled that causes the pain, since it appeared before I started using it frequently, but it might have aggravated it back a bit today. Ironically I would suggest trying out eccentric less training such as sled drags and pulls. I know CT and other coaches use it to train legs and rehab if there's joint issues. In my case I'm starting to believe that's it's a matter of getting my knees used to the stress I'm putting them through. The combination of deep front squats and sled drags could simply be something my body isn't accustomed to. Time will tell though. I'll try squatting after 3 or 4 days and I'll take it from there.

Thanks for the tip. I'll implement it next time and see how my knees react.


I got my pair of knee sleeves for 1 euro. Since all they do is keep your knees warm and apply a very small amount of pressure I don't see how good "quality" ones would be better.

You also made me look around and found out I've been taking far too little fish oil. I'm going to double my dosage(maybe should even triple it now that I got the pain) and see what happens. Problem is its way expensive. Greece must have the most expensive supplements ever...


i found something on this site about the knee as a screw... that there was some mechanism that involves the tibia / fibula rotating... about how that can get a bit wacky with knee extension...

might be worth asking over on the injury forum or using the search function here to find articles on the knee. there are bound to be some pics of the knee structures and movement tests you can self run to figure out what is going on...

i meant that some people (who have large calves and thighs who squat with a naturally narrow stance) actually physically smash their calves into their thighs before they hit their natural bottom position. that puts weird pressure on the kneecap so is best avoided. i don't have that problem. i can get to the natural bottom position without my thighs making contact with my calves (for a bunch of reasons).

using the stretch reflex in your hammies / glutes is okay. i mean, you will get stronger if you pause to break the muscular stretch reflex, but a smooth bounce out of there shouldn't create problems for your knees.


grab a lacrosse ball, lay on your stomach and put the ball just above your knee cap in your quad. Take your knee through flexion and extension. It'll be like foam rolling but more precise. Tack around and see if you can find any nasty spots. If it hurts, stay on the area until you've made changes to the tissue. Work your way up your quad. Should help out.


Try a little foam rolling. The entire quad and it band. Doing it before warmup sets gets blood in there faster. I also put on the knee sleeves at home before driving to the gym so that they are already warm before I do anything.


Squat looks fine...

Try foam rolling the quad, or digging in by lying on a tennis or lacrosse ball, also stretch the quad.
Also, try rolling the tibialis muscle (front of shin, outside tibia)


I'll try to find some cheap knee sleeves :slightly_smiling:

Regarding fish oil you should buy liquid, and not capsules. Capsules are more expensive considering the amount of oil you get, and the recommended dosing is way lower than liquid (think about it - who wants to pop 15 capsules per day?). The one I use costs 18 USD for 300mL. 10mL gives me 2,8 g Omega 3, 0,8 g EPA, 0,9 g DHA and 0,4 g DPA. Mind you, I'm reside in Norway. Shit's expensive here.

Ah, thanks :slightly_smiling: I understand now. I won't have that problem unless I build legs like Tom Platz :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks guys :slightly_smiling: I don't have a foam roller or a lacrosse ball, but I'll test this out with a tennis ball and a PVC pipe.


fish oil expensive in Norway? crazy. If I remember correct it's made from salmon and there are plenty of those close to Norway.


It's pretty cheap in England imo. I can get 1000 capsules for £40 or so? Or less?



What some of you guys are describing with the knees is exactly what happened to me during my senior year in college wrestling. I ended up really pushing myself more and more and it turned into chondromalacia. If it starts to bother you, you may want to take a week or so off to rest and ice the knee.

If it gets bad like mine did, the only thing that worked for me were platelet rich plasma injections. My doctor told me they were easier to get in Europe than over here so that may be something to look into if your condition worsens.


mine has gotten better after increasing the fish oil to around 10grams EPA+DHA total or whatever which comes up to around 30 pills a day with the one I'm currently using. I made an order from the US that will have 180 capsules instead of 100 with 750mg EPA+DHA each instead of 300 and its at the same cost. so its like 3 times as good. I hope it goes through customs.

I also restarted off slowly. Started lifting from 20% with bunch of reps and slowly increasing it around 5% every 2-3 days.

Now its been 2-3? weeks and I'm doing ~60% at oly lifts(doubles-triples) and 50% squats (sets of 6)

I also increased protein intake by roughly doubling it, which is what I should have been taking all along


I got some super-industrial-strength liquid fish oil. fruit flavored. ew. the only thing worse than the fruity fishiness was the texture :frowning:
i bet it would have been better if they hadn't have fruity flavored it and i could have put it in my tins of tuna. too late now, taste aversion developed.