T Nation

Front Squat Problems

Does anyone with a natural “forward head position” do front squats? I attempted these last night for the first time and when I try to get the bar back in the proper position my throat gets in way, causing quite a bit of pain and well as making it impossible to breathe. So next I tried holding the bar with my arms crossed and resting it on my shoulders, which was also somewhat painful, but I stuck it out for all of my sets. Today my shoulders are bruised and aching. There’s got to be a better way. Any help would be appreciated.

Steve, I recently started doing front squats for the first time as well…I had the same problem you did the first time with the throat and aching shoulders. It’s been a few weeks now, and I have adjusted to them. Just think of how uncomfortable you were the first time you did back squats…I bet you got used to that too. Bottom line, as long as you have good form and the bar is in the right place, you will adjust and they won’t be so bad. By the way, I really prefer to hold the bar as if I’m doing a clean instead of with arms crossed.

I really like the clean grip also. I really have to stretch my forearms first, but the bar is much easier to control with this grip. To stretch my forearms, I get down on all fours and then externally rotate my arms so that my palms are facing forward and then I support my body weight with them. Bring the arms in for more of a stretch.

I asked a similar question a while back and got some great responses from the posters here. I started out with clean grip, then went to actually resting my hands on my shoulders (hands opening somewhat), but as soon as I upped the weight I was doing some serious damage to my fingers. I finally just bit the bullet and went to cross grip, and now it’s no problem. As for the choking thing, remember to keep your head UP! Look straight up if you have to.

Theres also that device called the stingray, you use the search engine to find the link to it. have not tried it but it supposedly works great.

I use the Manta Ray (same people make the Sting Ray) all the time and love it. Never used the Sting Ray, though I’ve been told it (they, really, as it’s a two-piece thing held together by a rope) puts the bar too far forward (out over the delts) and makes the lift even more difficult to control.

i got the stingray and the mantaray. The are both well worth the investment if you are serious about getting some hard workouts in. You have to use the cross grip with the stingray because the pads are on your delts. Also with the manta ray, the back squat becomes more difficult do to the elevated position of the bar. It becomes a true high bar squat instead of the powerlifting low bar position. laters pk

Hmmm…adding to my PRE-Christmas NEED List…“manta and string” -ray, devices.

Thanks everyone - lots of good replies. I had tried the clean grip at first but didn’t have enough flexibility to keep my elbows high. I’ll have to try some of the other ideas while I continue to work on the flexibility issue.

Thanks for the info. I have been debating whether or not to get one. I still might give it a try. If I do, I will let everyone know.

Steve, here’s a short and somewhat painful way to stretch those forearms to learn the clean grip. First make sure that you are riding the bar fairly far back – not enough to choke yourself, but not way out onto the delts either. Then load on more weight than you could possibly front squat, get your clean grip ready, and just unrack it. Fight to keep your elbows high, and when you’ve had as much stretch as you can take, rack it again. When you’re more comfortable, do some partials with this heavy weight to make sure that you can keep the weight resting on your shoulders and not on your hands and forearms. Eventually you can learn to front squat with little or no help from your hands. I had flexibility problems when front squatting and after a few weeks my coach had me finish my front squat workouts with these little heavy bitches – it worked quickly, but I had to ice my wrists and elbows for a week.

Another thing to consider with front squats that will make them easier is your achilles tendon/calf flexibility. Since good clean grip front squats require you to keep your back pretty straight, think about how much ankle flexion is required to crunch your leg up like that without bending forward! Hope this can help.

Wrist flexibility is key when starting front squats. I know it is uncomfortable at first, but as your wrists become flexible you will be able to keep your elbows high. This creates a natural shelf for the bar and makes it easier in the long run. I never do the cross-arms. Good luck!