T Nation

Front Squats; HOLY SHIT


Just did front squats for the first time. I never imagined they would be that difficult. Nauseous the entire drive home. Im in my 3rd month of 5/3/1. Sticking to the basics but just changing the accessory exercises. A couple questions:

  1. what do you guys think about doing front squats as an accessory lift after regular squat, with a focus on higher reps(posterior chain vs more quad focus)?

  2. how is the learning curve with front squats. My 1rm with regular back squat is 275, but I was front squatting 95lbs! and it was difficult, more technique wise than strength wise I would say.It took a high level of exertion and focus to stay upright and not pitch forward.



1.) I don’t like it. I kind of treat front squats in the same regard as deadlifting PERSONALLY… but then there was a jacked MFer who use to post here named Bauer87 or something who swore by higher rep (15 or so) sets of front squats. And again, he was a beast.

2.) There is a real learning curve IMO. What kind of grip are you using? Oly, across the shoulders, straps? Front squat weight should probably be a bit lighter than your backsquat. If you’re at a 275 x 1 back squat, I’m guessing you’re 245-255 x 5 or something? You should probably be able to do 225 x 5 with front squats or so, if I had to try to throw an arbitrary number there. IDK though.


I can’t seem to get them right, i like the idea of them but have trouble executing them properly

i can back squat 315 for reps but front squats i can maybe do 225 for reps, but like i said can’t seem to get the form right. Thats ok though because Back squats seem to work best anyways.


I used front squats on 5/3/1 for a good amount of time in the past. It worked, but ultimately, back squats are a better choice because weeks 1 and 2 on 5/3/1 can sometimes be too high of reps for the front squat. A lot of people’s upper back/rhomboids will fail stabilizing the weight before their legs are fatigued, so that’s why you should stick to the lower reps in front squat. The sweet spot, I think, is reps in the 2-4 rep range.

The learning curve is not that big for the F. Squat, you just have to get used to it. Once you start front squatting 275+ lbs, you’ll start to see some serious meat on your quads, glutes, and hams. Shit, even your calves.

Edit: just make sure you go ass to grass. there’s no other way. There’s also not really a need for a belt on front squats, unless your core stability really fucking sucks.


I enjoy high rep front squats…I occasionally will work up to a max 2-3, but normally, I keep it in the 8-15 range.


Bauer used a harness though. It can be a bitch keeping the bar in place when doing 8-15 reps, at least for me. I dig front squats, but if I’m to do high reps on them I prefer to do them in the smith machine.


[quote]Quick Ben wrote:
Bauer used a harness though. It can be a bitch keeping the bar in place when doing 8-15 reps, at least for me. I dig front squats, but if I’m to do high reps on them I prefer to do them in the smith machine.[/quote]

You’re right, my bad - I accidentally omitted that.

Yeah, usually when going anywhere above 6-8 (truly heavy) reps, I’m usually going to find myself leaning down and looking at the floor while I squat - not good.


Really like front squats, use them in the high rep range for hyertrophy, 3x10 generally. Great for really hitting the quads, i tend to do much lower reps with back squats.

I actually find form a lot easier than on back squats, they enable you to go a lot deeper than back squats, this is what i personally find anyway. Main issue is definately with the grip, i initially did cross grip but it hurt my shoulders, then moved on the oly grip which wasn’t bad but takes a while for your wrists/elbows to get used to the stretch. Came across the front squat video by Thibs on the site where he advises using straps and holding them like levers kinda so gonna give that a go.

Definately stick them out, you’ll get used to form in no time, i think they would go well as assistance on your deadlift day of 531.


[quote]bwilliamsr89 wrote:
how is the learning curve with front squats. My 1rm with regular back squat is 275, but I was front squatting 95lbs! and it was difficult, more technique wise than strength wise I would say.It took a high level of exertion and focus to stay upright and not pitch forward.[/quote]

You should be repping out 145 easy with front squats if your back squat is 275. Back when I had that strength level, I was using 175 for sets of 6 reps.

The very first thing you need to learn is the proper bar position. Try putting up a weight and unrack the bar WITHOUT EVEN HOLDING IT. Put it on your deltoids. Your arms must be raised to where your deltoids are higher than your clavicles, and you should let the bar rest there. It’s going to be painful at first, but you will get used to it.

I’ve never had trouble learning the front squat (ATG) even back when I was a newb. The main difference between a back squat and the front squat is that the front squat will force you to maintain UPRIGHT. DO NOT FIGHT THE URGE TO LEAN FORWARD.


I love front squats and I fo them much more often than regular back squats.

Personally, I would do back squats AFTER front squats. This would be a great way to expand a ramp. I might, e.g., ramp sets of 2 or 3 reps on front squats until I reach a weight I cannot accelerate anymore. This would be anywhere after 8 to 12 sets and I can go up to 480 pounds. I can than continue the ramp with regular back squats and, e.g., ramp singles from there up to 610 or so.
This adds a lot of volume to my leg routine. For me personally, the best way to train.

The learning curve will be steep! When I first front squatted I could hardly lift 200 pounds, and I back squatted 580 or so at that stage.
Just be sure not to rush it: make the investment of learning proper technique - this includes using the proper grip. Especially learning the proper grip will slow down your progress at first, but it will really help you later on. You might need to stretch atvthe power rack and aquire wrist mobility. See Thib’s videos on that.

Cheers, PA


i can no longer do back squats for heavy weight due to numerous back injuries and several vertebrae that are bone on bone.

In other words, I cannot have any spinal flexion in the bottom of the squat, or I get injured.

I do back squats for high reps, 15-30, and I do front squats for heavy, 1-6 reps.

I also feel front squats take less out of my low back and let me perform my favorite lift the deadlift better.


Who doesn’t get injured with a flexed spine in the bottom position of a squat though? (other than DieselWeasel I mean).

From your vids it looks like you’re holding up really damn well despite your injuries though, HT.
I’d probably wuss out :slight_smile:


I love the front squat, and am using at as a RE-exercise right now, because my knee stability is actually the most limiting factor in my squat at the moment. You just need to get used to it. I would also guess that if your technique is ok, you must have some severe core stability issues if your front squat numbers are that much lower than you back squat. Don’t get me wrong. The back squat will always be strongest no matter what, but the discrepancy shouldn’t be as big as that.

Here’s a few of pointers:
No matter what type of grip you choose make sure to drive the elbows up hard. Remember to press the knees out, just like in the back squat. Actively brace your abs as if you’re about to receive a punch. Try to think of it as making a wall. Do not breathe in the bottom position. Look up, but don’t hyperextend the neck.


I love front squats, I’m 6.2 foot tall and I get much more benefit from front squatting than back squatting. Bill Starr said it years ago someone ‘front squatting is the purest form of squatting’. I concur.


Love front squats… Alternate week to week between back and front… Did 315 today for 5 singles… Just getting used to the weight again… I took a long break from legs and have been hitting them hard again for 6 months now… Weights coming though… I’ve always had almost as strong a front as a back squat… Hardest part is just holding the weight on the shoulders… Legs have the strength but the shoulders and back give out first… It’s a bitch of a lift but one of the best for development in my opinion… I took video today… May post later…


Fronts 6/5/11 just getting the feel for the heavy weight again… legs have it no problem but the weights feel heavy on the upper body… did five like this today just to get the feel back


video wont load


I like front squatting after back squatting. Great accessory exercise for me because my quads have always been a little bit behind my PC in development, and also because I C&J a fair bit and they help with that. My back squat has been climbing very steadily now for a couple months so I’m not changing anything.
Not a huge fan of the high rep stuff though. I once did a month or so where I did high rep front squats a couple times a week and it was really uncomfortable! And didn’t seem to do much for my leg development (I’ve also now started competing in a sport again which involves explosive power so no real benefit there).


Damn Paragon, 610 on the back squat is no joke.


I like front squatting too, haven’t done it in a long while though sadly. I’m also not a fan of the high rep stuff, for me anything over 6 is too much. If you wanna try to get the benefit of high reps i’d just try either short rest periods or a rest pause as the back and core muscles seem to recover faster than the legs. That way you can still kill the legs while maintaining good form.