T Nation

Front Squats - Arm Pain



Yesterday I did some heavy (for me) front squats. I find the barbell on my front shoulders so painful that it's no longer funny. I tried using a barbell pad and even a towel, but it hurts.

Being an idiot, I worked through it - did my 5x5 with a new max weight. Legs felt fine (could handle more weight) but the discomfort makes the exercise intense in a non-constructive way.

Well today, I have small electric shock pains in my right arm. It's sporadic but sharp and painful when it occurs. My left (especially) and right shoulders are also really sore to the touch where the padded barbell rested (not DOMS sore, bruised sore).

Is that Manta/Stong ray (whichever does the front...) worth trying? Right now, I feel like I'm going to drop front squats from my routine, which will probably sabotage my longer term plans for getting better at Oly lifts.

I don't have the flexibility to hold the barbell with my finger tips and arms out, so I use the "bodybuilding" method of crossed arms.

Any suggestions welcome...I'd like to keep doing these, but I don't want to cause some nerve damage (assuming I haven't already) or even have to put up with useless pain during a workout.



That's likely your problem right there, Wiz. Work on your flexibility, and change that grip. If you're looking to improve your O-lifts, that extra range will come in handy anyway.

I know it's a huge pain -- my wrists take a kicking during front squats as I get more fatigued -- but with time and effort it gets better. By changing the way you're holding the bar, you're changing the way that the muscles of the shoulder flex beneath it. Doing it as you are, you're probably getting less cushioning and more pinching.

Just two cents worth. Best of luck.


That was one of the whiniest posts I have ever read. I feel a bit out of character saying this but seriously, get some sack.

Your shoulders will eventually get used to it. After a while you probably won't notice any discomfort.

Also, can you do powercleans? Do those hurt your shoulders as well? If you just powerclean the weight up to start your front squats I bet you won't notice the bar being uncomfortable.


Could well be. I tried some practice holds with an empty bar - it moves the bar completely away from the affected area. Perhaps dropping the weight down and using this grip whilst my flexibility improves (forcibly) is the smart move.

I was closely comparing the shoulder position between the two holds - they are hugely different.

Heh - that's why I went for the BB hold in the first place, but all I did was move it from wrists to shoulders - worse because the pinching was clearly much more serious.

"Less cushioning more pinching" I literally couldn't describe it any better. This is worth "more than two-cents" to me. Thanks!

I'm going to stop trying to lift heavier weights and instead just practice-practice-practice using the correct form. I'm not going to bother with the Manta Ray, as it's not going to help long term on the Oly lifts.

The stupid thing is that I must have already known that, I was just looking for an easier way that enabled me to keep lifting heavier weights.

I appreciate you telling me the obvious. It's what I'm going to do. When I get my bar weight back where I am now using the proper grip, I'll post it here, so others can see how long it might take to get there. :slight_smile:

Thanks! :slight_smile:



Jolly good. Moving on:-

The shoulder pain may get easier, I agree. My major concern is the "electric shocks", which suggests possible nerve damage? If my "form" is somehow pinching a nerve or worse (as Northcott has convinced me of - "less cushining more pinching"), then I needed to find a better way of eliminating that to prevent possible long-term damage. Even the padded bar didn't help, which really surprised me. Unfortunately, I can still feel the effects in my left arm this morning - uncontrollable movements and a sharp pain every now an then (not associated with movement). It's a lot better, thankfully, and I am hoping for a full recovery (not that I deserve it - I should have stopped much sooner...dumb ass).

Yes, right now I can Powerclean a lot more than I can front-squat because my form is different for the Clean - I support the bar more with my hands (elbows down), so there's no bar contact in the same spot on my shoulders as there is with the front squat. It's not the weight, it's the position.

I know that my current Clean / C&J grip is not considered good form. (I pick a bar up and put it over my head, as opposed to doing a Clean and Jerk, if you take my meaning?).

I think if I can learn to front-squat correctly, I will Clean even more weight - my real goal. CT suggests doing front squats in his Oly lift training programs as one of the ways of improving the C&J lift.

You're quite right. If I hold it with elbows down, there's no significant discomfort at all, and not even a hint of the "nerve issues". All I can feel is the weight of the bar. But both Dan John and CT make it clear that elbows in and gripping the bar is not the way to go if you want to learn to lift heavy.

I will practice the correct grip and forget about "trying to lift more". :slight_smile:



Yeah, practice a clean grip front squat with less weight and do less reps per set, but more sets. When I started doing them I had to wear a thick sweatshirt due to discomfort, but now I have maxed with about 80lbs more in a t-shirt with no discomfort. It takes time.