T Nation

Front Squats

When I do front squats my upper back tends to round forward and I end up with a bit of throbbing lower back.

Is this some kind of flexibility issue? I’ve tried stretching my hip flexors - would hamstring stretches help too? I just don’t want to reduce power by stretching them before squatting.

Try lowering the weight so you can concentrate on form. Keep the scapula pulled back, the lower abs held in (what Ian King calls the thin tummy), and squeeze your cheeks when you come up. I’m pretty sure that this will help you keep a better position on your front squats. You might also concentrate on keeping your elbows in line with the wrists and pointing to the floor.

http://images.t-nation.com/forum_images/./1/.1113230184249.BBFrontSquat.gif

This is how it should be done…

For me I needed someone’s help to show me exactly how to hold the bar when doing front squats (FORM is key)

Try lowering the weight until you have near prefect form, also (I know i’ll get flammed for this) try front squats on the smith machine BUT only until you have it right.

Sounds like you’re using too much weight.

It would probably be easier to give an opinion based on video footage. But, I would say it probably simply has to do with lack of strength in the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae). Flexibility could be an issue too, its hard to know without seeing your form. In general though, back squats can handle greater weight than front squats, but some specific lower back work may be in order, particularly if your lower back is a weak link in your back squat.
-Matt

Could be upper back flexibility too.

Try the stretch where you put your tricep/upper arm flat against the wall and push into it. I imagine you are not getting your elbows high enough on your front squat.

Also make sure you are sitting between your feet, not poking your ass out.

This is NOT how it should be done.

The clean grip front squat is far superior both in safety and ability to handle weight than this silly arms crossed variation.

It also has carryover to your clean. In short, don’t cross your arms.

[quote]RIT Jared wrote:
This is NOT how it should be done.

The clean grip front squat is far superior both in safety and ability to handle weight than this silly arms crossed variation.

It also has carryover to your clean. In short, don’t cross your arms.[/quote]

you gotta get used to it, but to each his own, I tried it and it works for me. But cross arms aside that pic shows proper form.

[quote]
Try lowering the weight until you have near prefect form, also (I know i’ll get flammed for this) try front squats on the smith machine BUT only until you have it right.[/quote]

Could someone explain to me how the smith machine, which does not mimic the bar trajectory nor the balancing issues of the front squat, can help to improve your form? This is a terrible idea, and you will get flamed for it because its foolish and has no logical basis, not because you mentioned the smith machine.

I had the same problem, especailly on the lower part of the lift when doing heavy weights.

What helps a lot is focusing on contracting your abs while you do the lift. You want your midsection tight.

Smith Machines Rule!!

[quote]RIT Jared wrote:
This is NOT how it should be done.

The clean grip front squat is far superior both in safety and ability to handle weight than this silly arms crossed variation.

It also has carryover to your clean. In short, don’t cross your arms.[/quote]

Assuming you have the forearm flexibility to do the clean grip properly.

You have a weak lower back and abs. Don’t think of having a thin tummy while you’re squatting either. Read squatting articles by Dave Tate. Strengthen your lower back&abs so they can handle the weight and you can keep an arch. I recommend doing zercher squats in place of front squats for a while.

[quote]RIT Jared wrote:
Also make sure you are sitting between your feet, not poking your ass out.[/quote]

That’s useful - I’ve been sitting back as if it were a back squat.

[quote]RIT Jared wrote:
I imagine you are not getting your elbows high enough on your front squat.
[/quote]

[quote]Music Muscle wrote:
You might also concentrate on keeping your elbows in line with the wrists and pointing to the floor.
[/quote]

Don’t these two ideas contradict each other?

[quote]Breakdown wrote:
RIT Jared wrote:
I imagine you are not getting your elbows high enough on your front squat.

Music Muscle wrote:
You might also concentrate on keeping your elbows in line with the wrists and pointing to the floor.

Don’t these two ideas contradict each other?[/quote]

Go with the elbows up as high as you can. This encourages a proper shoulder position for holding the bar. With your elbows down, you will have a tendency to hold the bar with your hands instead of just using them to balance the bar.

[quote]Breakdown wrote:
RIT Jared wrote:
Also make sure you are sitting between your feet, not poking your ass out.

That’s useful - I’ve been sitting back as if it were a back squat.

RIT Jared wrote:
I imagine you are not getting your elbows high enough on your front squat.

Music Muscle wrote:
You might also concentrate on keeping your elbows in line with the wrists and pointing to the floor.

Don’t these two ideas contradict each other?[/quote]

He means the upper arm parallel to the floor.

elbows to the floor is wrong regardless of what grip you choose. if the elbows are down when you squat down the elbows will hit the tops of you thighs try it with the clean grip and you will see.

while i think you should use the clean grip if you can the alternate is ok.

ethier way keep your elbows up! during the whole rep if you got the bar racked correctly that will keep it in place and keep your upper back straight.

use less weight! get the form down and build up to the big weights.
look on some oly lifting sites for a better video clip. the one posted isnt bad the clean grip i feel is better however and front squats are a staple fo oly lifting so you will get good guidance from them.

and stay the fuck away from the smith machine!!! only thing you should be using the SM for is explosive bench.

I picked up the idea of doing no hands front squats from J.V. Askem’s website. I’ve only done them a few times, but they really seem to force you to hold your hands, arms and chest in the right place or else you lose your balance and the bar goes rolling off!

So I guess I reccomend using a very light weight and trying no hands front squats.

Here’s the link:

http://jva.ontariostrongman.ca/FS.htm

[quote]conorh wrote:
I picked up the idea of doing no hands front squats from J.V. Askem’s website. I’ve only done them a few times, but they really seem to force you to hold your hands, arms and chest in the right place or else you lose your balance and the bar goes rolling off!

So I guess I reccomend using a very light weight and trying no hands front squats.

Here’s the link:

http://jva.ontariostrongman.ca/FS.htm
[/quote]

I agree. This is how I learned to front squat and how I show people at the gym who want to learn how to do it.

Sometimes it only takes a few sets with a light weight to find your groove and figure out where the bar needs to be. From there, it’s a lot easier to setup and squat regardless of how you hold your arms. I use both for the record. Just kind of depends on how my wrists are feeling.

Many have overlooked the obvious idea that your legs might simply be a lot stronger than your upper back. It takes a lot of strength endurance to keep your shoulders retracted and in the proper position when holding a heavy barbell on your shoulders.

How many reps are you doing in the exercise? A lot of coaches recommend doing no more than 5 in a set because of the very problem you describe.

To help with the elbows, think of bringing them both up and squeezing them inward a little. Your upper arms should be about parallel to each other, in contrast to your elbows splayed out to the sides.

Remember to fill both the belly and chest with air on this one, too, then brace hard (another reason for the 5 rep maximum recommendation).

Don’t use the Smith machine for learning the form. As has been said, it’s colossaly stupid.

Use the clean grip - it’s safer, more stable, and you can handle more weight once you learn it. If you lack the flexibility for it, short of a genuine structural abnormality, stretch.

-Dan