T Nation

High Rep Front Squatting


#1

Does anyone else do this? I'm a massive fan and have been for years.

A conversation with infinite shore in another thread has gotten me thinking. He said something along the lines of people not being able to create enough tension with the higher rep sets to get any growth out of them.

What does everyone else think? I'd be interested to hear some opinions. I've always recommended high rep front squats for everyone, and it's usually my go-to leg training technique when I train clients.

Perhaps it's because I train the front squat exclusively that I don't struggle with things like core fatigue, but I dunno...


#2

Wouldn’t your upper back be a factor in how much weight you could use and it would fatigue before your legs would?


#3

[quote]chobbs wrote:
Wouldn’t your upper back be a factor in how much weight you could use and it would fatigue before your legs would?[/quote]

see that’s what everyone always says but it’s just never been my experience


#4

I only train the front squat and have gotten much more out of repping 225 than working up to a 315 max. The movement is more natural (to me) and much easier on my lower back.

I never found my upper back to be a limiting factor, but I keep the bar up against my throat.

Even though it’s meant to target the quads more than the back squat and therefore people tend to take a narrower stance, I still use these 2 cues from the back squat: squat between the legs, don’t fold and unfold like an accordian *, and spread the floor with your feet to engage the glutes. I don’t think it takes any tension off the quads to do so.

  • explanation courtesy of Dan John.

#5

I have never done it myself, but I can see how it could work.

Without getting too far into the realm of words I don’t know how to use precisely, I can see how the upper back would have the strength-endurance to hold a lighter weight for longer in a static position. The legs are used dynamically so it’s the movement/TUT that fatigues them more. I’d imagine this is a weight you could hold in the rack position, standing, for a very long time.

Whereas with a heavy front squat, it’s simply too much for the upper back to hold statically for very long.

But I’d never really thought about doing that myself.


#6

I used to train them 5x5, but dropped them in favor of a second low bar squat day.

Nowadays, I sometimes do them as a finisher, but by then I’m usually gassed to the point that “high rep” just means more than 10 but less than 20 with 135 on the bar. My upper back is never the limiting factor in this scenario. It is usually the terrible burning sensation in my quads that prompts me to rack the bar.

As far as growth? Hell if I know. I’m still fat and I just do them as an afterthought, not a consistently trained movement. I have some meaty quads underneath, that’s for sure.

There are things I REALLY like about front squats.

  1. They make you tough.
  2. They are self-limiting, so you can easily dump the bar in a worst-case scenario, especially during a high-rep set.
  3. They helped my mobility, especially as I was learning to squat. I can get DEEP with front squats.

I’ve “trained” one noob, and a week of front squats at higher reps were done before he began squatting low bar with any weight at all. I think it is a great stepping stone move for a new lifter, as well as being an outstanding movement in its own right.

If it works and you like it and doesn’t cause any problems, I see no reason to doubt yourself. Has anyone ever reflected on their lifting history and wished that they never did all those front squats?


#7

They’re a staple movement in Crossfit (along with thrusters and cleans), but usually done with super light weight. On many workouts, 95# is recommended for males and 65 for females. I do find my upper back fatigues, but I suffer from Office Worker posture, so that may be a big part of it.


#8

[quote]LiftingStrumpet wrote:
I do find my upper back fatigues, but I suffer from Office Worker posture, so that may be a big part of it.[/quote]

I think this is important. When you have typical office worker posture (head forward, rounded shoulders, hunched over) you’re putting a constant low-level stretch on the musculature of your thoracic spine. Your rhomboids and erectors are fatigued from holding your upper body up the entire day. Any additional load is going to have them crying, “no mas”.

I do a lot of high rep/low weight upper back work (face pulls, lower and mid trap work, etc) and credit that with my improved posture.


#9

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
I only train the front squat and have gotten much more out of repping 225 than working up to a 315 max. The movement is more natural (to me) and much easier on my lower back.

I never found my upper back to be a limiting factor, but I keep the bar up against my throat.
[/quote]

as is so often the case, your thinking mirrors mine exactly


#10

on the subject of upper back posture and front squats:

that’s actually one of the main reasons I recommend them. Really hammers good posture into you, which most people need.


#11

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
When you have typical office worker posture (head forward, rounded shoulders, hunched over) you’re putting a constant low-level stretch on the musculature of your thoracic spine. Your rhomboids and erectors are fatigued from holding your upper body up the entire day. Any additional load is going to have them crying, “no mas”.

I do a lot of high rep/low weight upper back work (face pulls, lower and mid trap work, etc) and credit that with my improved posture.
[/quote]

Agree on all counts. I’ve been doing many of the same correctives, which definitely help. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to undo 10-15 years of damage!


#12

[quote]LiftingStrumpet wrote:
Agree on all counts. I’ve been doing many of the same correctives, which definitely help. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to undo 10-15 years of damage![/quote]

Oh, I know. I’m right there with you. Try supine chin tucks as well. I do it in the evening while watching TV.


#13

[quote]chobbs wrote:
Wouldn’t your upper back be a factor in how much weight you could use and it would fatigue before your legs would?[/quote]

I would think that would depend on your previous training and development.


#14

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]chobbs wrote:
Wouldn’t your upper back be a factor in how much weight you could use and it would fatigue before your legs would?[/quote]
see that’s what everyone always says but it’s just never been my experience[/quote]
What kind of grip do you use? Rack position, holding straps, or crossarm “bodybuilder style”? That could be a factor too.

Upper back fatigue is definitely the most talked about negative when it comes to front squatting for high or even moderate reps. Of course it comes down to the individual, but on some level I kinda feel like it’s comparable how people say not to do deadlifts for moderate to high reps. It’s hard and there’s a greater need for spot-on technique, but the payoff is accordingly greater.

I wouldn’t have a rank beginner jump right into it, but after some kind of base was built, I think most people could at least give it a shot (with an intelligent approach) and see what’s what.


#15

What are we talking for weight and reps for “high” rep?


#16

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
What are we talking for weight and reps for “high” rep? [/quote]
Not to speak for Yogi, but in the other thread, the context was front squats for 10x10 with a strict one minute rest using around a 20RM.

So, I’d consider it light weight, relatively high volume, and a pretty high density (from the short rest).


#17

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
What are we talking for weight and reps for “high” rep? [/quote]
Not to speak for Yogi, but in the other thread, the context was front squats for 10x10 with a strict one minute rest using around a 20RM.

So, I’d consider it light weight, relatively high volume, and a pretty high density (from the short rest).[/quote]

Got ya

I use a strap grip and find my upper back is the limiting factor for me at least heavier and it stems from hip mobility issues and trying to get deep which makes me tip forward a bit but if I stop a bit short of that I love some high rep front squats. The frequency of my back work also limits front squatting. Everything 2x a week keeps back toasty when hitting front squats too.


#18

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
What are we talking for weight and reps for “high” rep? [/quote]
Not to speak for Yogi, but in the other thread, the context was front squats for 10x10 with a strict one minute rest using around a 20RM.

So, I’d consider it light weight, relatively high volume, and a pretty high density (from the short rest).[/quote]

yeah that’s it exactly.

And it’s funny you say about not jumping people straight into it, as I’ve always thought it quite logical. It’s just a step up from goblet squats which’d likely be the first squat you showed someone. Know what I mean?


#19

[quote]Yogi wrote:
on the subject of upper back posture and front squats:

that’s actually one of the main reasons I recommend them. Really hammers good posture into you, which most people need.[/quote]

Relatively new to consistently front squatting, but but getting my fs in line with my bench has done wonders for my posture and strength. Don’t do any high rep fs’ing but have been thinking about it for awhile. This thread seals it.


#20

Don’t have much to say about high rep front squatting but I’m just wondering if anyone else has ever experienced very sharp pain in the back of their neck (around C6/C7) during front squats or other front loaded movements? Doing them once doesn’t hurt too much but if I train them consistently I get a very intense, sharp pain once I re-rack the weight and it’ll be a little sore throughout the day.

I’ve been told it’s due to shear force but I’ve also been told by multiple people that I have good form and my chin is tucked. Think it may have something to do with my posture as I am a student and look at a computer screen a lot so I’m working on chin tuck exercises to help strengthen the deep neck flexors to see if that will help. I don’t mean the hijack the thread, just thought this might be a good place to see if anyone else has ever experienced this and what they did to correct it.