Some time back I posted a question about just this, and received some GREAT replies. In my case, I had some wrist issues. Here’s the thread in its entirety:
brider 2002-01-11 17:33:37
I’ve got a question regarding the grips used in front squats. I’ve recently re-introduced them into my routine as a pre-exhaust for the quads prior to standard back squats and deadlifts. I sprained my right wrist about 3 months ago (hyperextended it), and it still bothers me when doing the clean grip. I’m finding that with the cross grip, the bar either chokes me (passing out isn’t a good option), or rests too far down the delts and just plain hurts to the point I’ve gotts stop the set. I haven’t tried the Sting Ray – any input on that contraption? – or towel wraps, but I thought I’d put this out there for some feedback. And please, if your advice is to just suck it up and do the lift, then save yourself the keystrokes and go on to the next post.
Eric 2002-01-11 18:37:21
About three months ago, I began to incorporate front squats into my quad workout on a consistent basis. I can honestly say that it was the best training decision I’ve made in a while. Now, I use them 3-4 times out of every five workouts in place of back squats. I just don’t feel back squats in my quads, but with front squats I’ve both felt it, gotten stronger, and put 2" on my quads (although Mag-10 helped as well). I use the cross grip. Just off the top of my head: you may be setting the pins too high at the start. I set the bar at lower pec height, come from underneath it and allow it to slide up my anterior delts onto my pecs (which are flexed). Also, make sure to keep your head up. Otherwise, you are the one initiating the choke, not the bar. Be sure to keep your arms at or close to 90 degrees. If you don’t, you’ll be forced to adjust during the set by jerking it upwards (almost like a gripless high pull). Obviously, with this much weight on you, it’s hard to make this adjustment perfectly. Until you get the hang of it, I wouldn’t use it as a pre-exhaust. It’s best learned with light weights, so I incorporated it at the end of my workouts at first. I wouldn’t go below six reps, either. If you’re looking for a good way to use it as a burnout set, do three sets back squats, 3 sets leg presses, 3 sets leg extensions, and then use the front squats for 20 super slow reps (painful, especially the next day-but definitely worth it). One thing I can’t advise you on is the bruises I get on my anterior delts, which is a physiological thing out of my control. I’m not worried, though, as I don’t walk around with my shirt off in the winter, and I have a tan to blend them in in the summer. Hope this helps. Good luck, and don’t give up.
Drax 2002-01-11 18:54:43
You can do them without touching the bar with your hands at all, just hold your arms straight out in front of you. Make sure the bar is in that divot your delts make though.
Joey Z. 2002-01-11 20:51:58
I am currently employing an X-handed grip. (The inside of my hands is about 8 inches apart.)… While being careful to keep the elbows high, I GRIP THE BAR FIRMLY and pull the shoulder blades together which helps stabilize the upper back and keep the shoulder joints TIGHT! I balance the bar high on the chest, resting it in a groove between clavicle and the upper-pecs. This posture helps me distribute the load over a larger area: the anterior deltoids, clavicle/ upper pecs, and fingers/hands. (It’s also easy on the wrists) I love your method of doing front squats before back squats. (It truly works as a GREAT pre-fatigue!) When I do them your way, I find it a lot easier to go super deep on the back squats afterwards (and my quads blow up like balloons). I would also love to hear some feedback on the “Sting Ray!” My gym has a “Manta Ray” and nobody uses it because most find it VERY awkward. While using the “Manta Ray,” I feel like I’m going dump the load off my back at any moment during the set. I have heard that the “Sting Ray” functions much better for front squats than the “Manta Ray” does for backs. Is this true…?
Skizac 2002-01-11 23:02:47
I own a Sting Ray. I’ve tried front squats with many different grips and with the Sting Ray, but I can’t find a good way to do them that doesn’t have me leaning over too far at the bottom of the lift. The Sting Ray is very taxing on the delts, as the bar sits accross the anterior delts, farther away from the center of gravity than with an olympic or X grip. I find that when using it, my delts fatigue faster than my legs.
The end result was that I started out using a wierd grip, with the hands supinated, and keeping the fingers BETWEEN the bar and my shoulders. This allowed me to get used to the motion at lower weights and stabilize my stance, THEN work on the proper grip. When I started upping the weight, my fingers couldn’t take the pressure any more, so I changed. I now use a crossed arm grip, but can go handless (as in take my hands off the bar and only have the delts holding it) should the need arise. Keep at it, it’ll come.