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Holding Up the Front Squat


i can back squat 170 for 5 reps but only front squat 125 for 1. the reason is because i simply cant keep the bar on my shoulders. is there a way to specifically strengthen this part of the lift?

edit: oh btw, 170 and 125 is in kgs not pounds. so that would be 375pounds and 275pounds respectively


Do more front squats.



I was front squatting 185x1 before my injury. Had to not squat for a year. Now 135 is tough. It takes time.

Are you using the clean grip or the cross arm?


I love front-squatting, and the only way I can front-squat properly is if the bar is literally choking me.

After a while you kinda get used to it.


of course i use the clean grip. the cross arm grip is shit

but i want to specifically want to strengthen my bar holding strength. doing more front squats will work eventually but i want to just train my weak point and see a jump in front squat numbers rather than grind out front squats and see minimal increases every weak.

what do you guys think of isometrically holding the front squat position? at 120%

what about pause front squats? at 80% or 90%?

there must be a more creative way put more weight on the bar without just grinding out reps.

ill do isometric holds this week and see how much my fs increases next week. next week ill do pause squats at 85% and see how it goes. ill report back with numbers


I think it might be a technique issue rather than strength, especially if the problem is holding the bar rather than moving it. Try to push your chest out/up more so the bar rolls back into your throat. Alternate cue would be to try to lift your elbows higher. Similar to what Claudan said, when I do front squats the bar is practically choking me and I get red marks on my neck and anterior deltoids.

A video of what happens may also be useful.


Weightlifters are the best front squatters because they front squat heavy and often, not because they've found the most "creative" front squat assistance exercise.



It's blood, sweat and YEARS of training. There are no short cuts to making a big front squat. If your not already doing weighted decline sit ups or weighted hypers do these as a matter of course. You will not FS heavy weights if your trunk is weak. It takes a lot of trunk strength to support 400lbs+ throughout the range of a front squat.

Your genetics will dictate if you FS 2x bw or 2.5x bw. Not everyone is meant to FS 2.5x bw or run under 10seconds no matter how much you train.



Great advice on the trunk strength. I added my abdominal exercises to my leg-day since I started FS.

In terms of the grip, or "holding the bar", you definitely want to pay extra attention to your elbow levels while diving down. They need to be as parallel as possible to the floor. If you have issues with that, you might need to look into some shoulder mobility work.

After 5 reps usually, i lose my grip on the bar and I only have 2 fingers on each hand pushing the bar into my throat, and my shoulders do the rest of the stabilizing, while I focus on pushing the weight back up to starting position.


when im attempting 95%+ the elbows just drop automatically and i finish the front squat with a rounded upper back.

do you think itll help to do more triples at 80-85% instead of maxing out?


Elbows shouldn't drop. You need to stretch your wrists and shoulders out. This is the main issue.



If you are leaning forward, the bar will want to roll off, putting unnecessary strain on your wrists, or causing you to dump the bar. When I started learning Olympic lifting, I started and ended every workout with a few sets of "Frankenstein" squats, where you support the bar on your shoulders with your arms pointing straight out. This helps to teach proper positioning of the torso. Work on this and check out glen pendlays youtube video on stretching for the upper body and wrists. My front squat is nothing spectacular, but I can pick my nose while doing it, and not worry about the bar going anywhere.


And listen to everything that Koing and Ape288 tell you, I've learned a lot by reading their contributions to this forum!





Thanks, man. I appreciate that. Though I haven't been contributing much lately haha.


my advice is just a summary of what is said above.

you sound like you've been in the weightlifting game long enough; you should know that "patience and hard work" trumps "creativity." (not trying to be condescending in the least; everyone needs a reminder from time to time).

first of all, if the bar rolls off your shoulders, it's too heavy. drop the weight and do it right.

secondly, i would definitely look into doing more ab work. i highly suspect that your abs are too weak to keep the necessary posture. it's a different animal than the back squat. here is a chance to fix a weakness!

thirdly, stretch your wrists and shoulders. as has been said, keep your elbows up and in. literally, choke yourself out with the bar! for me, i focus on bringing my elbows up first when coming out of the hole.

as far as "creativity" goes, the only thing i would recommend is pausing down in the hole for a few seconds and focusing on keeping good posture. in my experience, if you are going to lose the bar, you are going to lose it in the hole, not up top. therefore, i don't recommend static holds up top.

good luck!


my wrists and shoulders are extremely flexible actually. im just not strong enough in the upper back(?) to hold the elbows up high when squatting. when i ascend from the hole the elbows just start dropping and at the top theyre almost vertical to the ground. when i do this i put enormous strain on the wrists it doesnt feel good.

do you guys ever get faint after a heavy fs? i got knocked unconcious this one afternoon after making a PR in the fs. i suspect its because i blocked arteries and spiked the blood pressure or blocked blood from reaching my brain.


You need to do more trunk work. Focus on decline weighted sit ups, hyper extensions with weights and bent over rows.



If your upper back is caving that much then you need to lower the weight bro. Just because you can grind it out with craptastic form, doesn't mean you should. Focus on getting in quality reps with lighter weight. Your focus on every rep should be drive the elbows up as high as possible. Every single time. And as koing said, do some damn ab and upper back work.

Also, if your upper back is caving over that much, how is the bar still choking you out? It should be practically falling off your shoulders lol.


"You are what you repeatedly do"

Simple do more front squats. No need to supplement parts of the squat to improve your strength just continue the lift. Every little issue you have will fix itself.