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My Pitfalls of Programming Front Squats



Hey folks, I have some questions regarding front squat programming.

Lately with my lower body training I have Lower Body Day A, which includes beltless front squats and deficit deadlifts along with assistance work. On Lower Body Day B, I use back Squats and assistance. I typically get 48-72 hours between each day and typically do each once a week.

Right now I’m just building strength with 3 week waves in which I do my squat variation at 75% on week one, and on week three I have 80% on the bar, and week two is just the weight that is in between them. Within these loads I hit 5 sets of 3-5 reps. I make sure they’re clean and this way I don’t need to be incredibly anal about the numbers I’m hitting, and the program more or less auto regulates itself. ( Deadlifts I do 3x3-5). After three weeks I increase my “max”. Sort of a high volume 5/3/1
So when it comes to simply building pure strength in the front squat, is it reasonable to approach it with the same strategies often used in the back squat? Or does the nature of the movement make it more optimal to do things differently.
For instance, maybe instead of 5x3-5@75-80% on the front squat - would it be more effective to maybe hit something like 7x2-3? I sometimes feel like my upper back and core fatigues so fast that reps take me out FAST.

Also was thinking of ( and probably will) throw a very reasonable top set or two of front squats in along with my backsquat day. ( something like 2x3@75%.)

Anyways, sorry if this a ridiculously long and stupid post, I’m tired and of course, confused.

P.S: I can’t handle ridiculously high volume or frequency as I am a competitive thrower and can’t afford to be fried all the time.


You should not really program it differently. Yes it is more taxing on the upper back, which can give up earlier, but on sets of 5-6 reps this won’t be a problem


Are you a weightlifter? Why are you doing front squats?


I suppose that’s fair… is it a little deadlift like in the sense that maybe you’d do it less often that the backsquat?


I am not a weight lifter. I’m a d3 football player and thrower. The front squat is a good movement for both of these sports. Also I fear that if I just backsquat until I’m a great squatter, that may just me I’m a good squatter, but not that I have strong legs… so variation is key


I would actually say the opposite, at least for me! Since I put more weight on the back squat I find it more draining. And weightlifter are basically front squatting every day. Anyway since you’re an athlete, you’re very smart by not doing it too intensely, and indeed the front squat is superior for your sport. But if the model you’re using works with the bs, it’ll work with the fs


OK, so the issue is what program will help you the most for football and track & field. I know someone who was a multi time national weightlifting champion, competed internationally for the US. In college, he trained at a facility that prepared guys for the NFL combine. One day, after training, they talked him into being tested. He did a 41in vertical, broad jump was over 12ft (they told him it would have broken the record for Dbacks). Ran an electronically timed 4.62 40, in weightlifting shoes, after heavy C&Js and squats. The running coach told him he could teach him to run and he would break 4.4. One guy told him he could “win” the combine. His response? “Guys, just one problem. Don’t know how to play football.”

I hope that makes my point. You will improve your throws by practicing the skill of throwing. Same for football. Google Bill Kazmier. He had his lunch handed to him in a brief stint with the Green Bay Packers.

Of course, you want to be, and need to be, as strong as possible. A weightlifter will utilize squats differently than you. One could argue the pros and cons of front and back squats, which is better for football, which has more “carryover” or whatever. Some, due to physical limitations, have no business doing front squats. On the other hand, I know a strength coach who does not employ back squats as he feels the risk of lower back injury is not worth it and front squats, which force a more upright posture, are better. Whenever possible, I would do both as they utilize muscle groups differently and, in the case of back squats, allow for heavier loads.

As for you, emphasize strength over endurance. You’re not making 6 throws in two minutes. I would keep the front squats around doubles and triples, back squats around 3s to 5s. You can throw in the occasional 5s front and 8s-10s back on off days. Whatever you are doing, finish with a hard set. In other words, your last set for the day should be a difficult, limit or close to it, set with whatever rep scheme you’re doing that day. Go by how you feel. On off days, do fewer sets and more reps. Do not “program” in that you stop at 75% for 5 if you could have done 8 with it on that day, or 90% for 5. Of course, this will vary during football season and when peaking for meets.

Remember the SAID principle. Don’t let your strength training interfere with practice. If you are too sore or exhausted from lifting, your throws will be off and you’ll be practicing technical faults which could become habitual. But, I imagine you already know that.

Bottom line, don’t over think it. You want to be strong? Lift heavy weights. You do not need to focus on limit singles, but lift heavy enough to induce strength adaptation. Hope this helps. Good luck.


I hadn’t asked the question but this is really great advice.


Thanks boss, seems reasonable to me!


Yeah, I guess I should just squat and get strong!


You’re out of season program should be your volume, if you are competing with your throws, that’s when you switch to a peaking style rep scheme.