T Nation

Front Squats or Zerchers?


#1

I'm having trouble staying upright on my back squats. I think this has to do with my weak ab strength so I want to add in an exercise that will help with my back squat. I am deciding between front squats and zerchers. I think front squats would be better bec it would get hard to keep a heavy weight in the crooks of my arms. But i haven't done either of them before so I'd like to hear other peoples' opinions.


#2

I dunno, but this reminds me of the threads people will put up complaining about a "sticking point off their chest" in the bench. And they've been lifting for 3 months. And can't even bench 200#.

You realize that one of the difficulties of the lift is, infact, staying upright? It's not supposed to be easy. You get that, right?

I'll answer your useless question anyway. Throw in some good mornings and ab work as assistance.

I really think you need to do a few things to get real help, though. Post a video of you squatting (a work set!) for review. Post your training history. Post your program.


#3

I don't have a camera or footage of my squats. But i was looking around on youtube and found this


Its Matt G. My squat looks exactly like that(less weight though) but without the knees coming in. But i always thought this was considered falling forward.

And then i see videos like this


Jim is much more upright and when i see it i think, "why aren't I that upright?"

Maybe i've been misunderstanding something here...


#4

I'm doing 5/3/1 and i'm on my 3 month. I started training for a year then focused mostly in high school wrestling the second year without much heavy lifting and just started getting back into weights about 5 months ago. So i guess 1.5years of training.

According to the rep formula, my best lifts are:
133 military press
357 Deadlift
202 Bench
307 Squat
Mostly with a body weight around 180

But bec of reintroducing hard conditioning and carb cycling 3weeks ago, my lifts are now as of this week:
132 Military press
342 Dead
200 Bench
279 Squat
With a body weight around 174-176 this week.


#5

Matt's squat looked fine; except for those knees caving in.

I have a question. How do you know how upright you are, if you don't have video? It's hard to tell except from a side view.

My experience has been that it's very difficult to determine body position when exercising. The fact is, you can't see yourself, and it's difficult to tell what position your body is in exactly, without a lot of experience.

Lots of people are surprised when they see themselves on video. "Wow, I thought I was squatting lower!" "I didn't realize I was rounding my back!" "Damn, my hips raise faster than my shoulders!" For me, I've had the opposite experience: "Shit, I thought I did a good morning to get that up, but that looked great."

Get some video. Use someones cell phone. Buy a cable to get it off the phone if you have to.


#6

The gym i go to has mirrors that cover the walls and the rack is in a corner so i can see my side and my front. So everytime i squat i'm always watching my squat technique.

So Matt's squats are fine. But Jim's squat is too but is a lot more upright. Is this a weakness thing? Personal choice? Or a body leverage thing?


#7

Looks like more forward lean now, doesn't it? I edited my previous post explaining the lean, a bit.

There can be "bad lean" and that's when the hips rise faster than the shoulders. If this happens, you've got problems and are going to good morning the weight up.

I don't recommend looking in the mirror while squatting. You could seriously hurt your neck. You're also no way focusing on squatting if you're looking in the mirror trying to see if your form is ok. That's no good, either.


#8

well.... I prefer front squats by defaul.
You can get deep AtG on a front squat, on Zerchers the arms hit your thighs when u get close to parallel. Also on FS the bar is higher up on your torso giving you less slack to lean over.

my2cents


#9

Ahhh so forward lean doesn't mean abs are weak or technique is wrong. But hips rising faster than shoulders mean it is. And you said "good morning the weight up" on bad forward lean so meaning the shoulders would be in front of the knees? If so then damn that sounds bad.

I've been squatting in front of mirrors ever since i started so i'm kind of use to it. But i often forget to drive my head back into the bar and have strained my neck few times too so i'll take your advice and stop paying so much attention to the mirror.


#10

Box squats. My technique for back squats was horrible till I started doing some box squats. I had the same problem along with a couple others (sitting back, tight back, pushing through heels, etc.). Did box squats for 4 weeks and now my form is pretty solid.


#11

You should invest in a camera of some sort. It is a great training tool, especially if you are training without a coach there. Save up for it you won't regret it.


#12

I prefer front squatting to back squatting. For me at least, the zerchers seem like a hybrid of both. They destroy my quads and I feel it a little in my back like when I back squat. But after a couple of weeks of zerchers my back squat increasing and form really tightens up. Experiment by adding both, I would do the zerchers first in the workout because they are harder, then finish with FS.


#13

Buy the book "Starting Strength." It has a fantastic chapter on the squat. Wendler recommends it. :wink:


#14

Get stronger. You might just be a leaner. No shame there. If you bend over with your max weights, it probably means you are stronger doing a borderline good morning. Try this- get three spotters to watch you carefully with something shy of a PR squat weight- say 30 to 50 lbs less than your max.

Get your stance out wider to accomodate the upright position. Don't worry about making the weight, just maintain the upright stance- if you miss it, you miss it. No try it again- this time with your regular bent-over groove. What feels stronger?


#15

A wider stance is going to necessitate less lean? Doesn't a wider stance usually result in less forward movement of the knees, which in turn means the bar moves forward less from less knee movement, which in turn means more lean is needed to get the bar over the middle of the feet? (Did that make sense?)


#16

quick question: goochadamg you said that if your knees cave in like the first video show'd then thats bad?

I have that problem alot on my backs squats when going deep what would you recommend to fix that?

Thanks in advance!


#17

Alot of the time people with excessive forward lean ( ie the angle of the torso being excessively greater than the angle of the tibia ) have tight hip flexors and weaker glutes than needed to perform the lift and turnthe squat into a kinda good morning/squat like the previous poster said.

PNF the crap out of your hip flexors and focus on strengthening the glutes. I second box squats as they teach you to hit depth and force your glutes to work harder by taking the stretch-reflex mechanism out of the lift. Not that there's anything wrong with bouncing outta the hole :slight_smile:

All this obviously doesn't matter so much when setting a new PR but you should be able to maintain your torso through all your prep work.


#18

What work are you doing for low back and abs? Get those stronger and you won't lean excessively


#19

A wider stance means your ass is going to have to travel a shorter distance during the descent in order to keep the shins upright, so your torso will stay more upright. Guys that squat in multiply feds with super wide stances are very upright when squatting for this reason.


#20

to answer your original question-

don't choose one, do both. i rotate between back squats, front squats and zerchers off pins. they are definitely my bread and butter.