T Nation

Superior Front Squat Style


I bring this up due to a problem I have ran into. Im not sure if it is due to tightness, body composition, or arm length but for the life of me, I cant do a clean style front squat. If I rest the bar on my front delts, I cant bring my hands far enough down without dropping the bar off my shoulders. If I place my hands on it first, I cant get my shoulders up and it rests on my collar bone at best. With either style, my elbows wont flip forward enough if I want my hands on the bar. Sorry if its hard to picture what I just said but I really dont know how to phrase it. I have checked out numerous videos for technique and nothing helps. So with all of that said, would the crossed arm style benefit me just as much? Thanks


You don't front squat for your arms. You do it for your legs.
It doesn't matter whether you use clean grip, crossed arms, or arms straight out. All can be equally beneficial.


In the last 10 years I think I have trained with 3 people who could squat with a clean grip and one of them was a former competitive OLY lifter and only 20 years old who had never done any appreciable benching up until he started training with us. (In other words he had a pretty flexible, healthy upper body as opposed to the rest of us.)

Crossed arms are just fine.


Good to know. I read somewhere that clean style is far superior. Although it didnt sound right, it made me start stressing about performing it properly.


I also do crossed arm. I just support the bar with both of my thumbs. A clean grip can be achived by anyone, but it takes time and patience if you're inflexible, but everyone can do it if they want it bad enough and work on it hard enough.


If you're dead set on the clean grip, there's this option.

Most comfortable for me is with crossed arms. Some do it with arms out in front of them, not holding the bar at all even.


If you really wanted to be able to do a clean grip front squat you could, but you would have to do some flexibility work for a while. Tight wrists and triceps would prevent you from being able to get into the proper rack position. If you can't hold a clean grip front squat, you can't properly rack a power clean, which eliminates a really good exercise form your arsenal. I would recommend acquiring the flexibility necessary to properly rack a clean, but like everyone else has said, it's not necessary at all for front squats, if that's all you're interested in. Anyway, in case you wanna give it a go, here's a video by Glenn Pendlay with a stretch for it: www.californiastrength.com/olwete.html . Go to the flexibility tab and watch the video on upper body flexibility.



Cool thanks man.


Cool idea.


There is also the option of buying a front squat harness to use. That being said, whatever grip is more comfortable to you is the one you should use.


Ive heard of em before and I just checked them out. Cool invention. Though I will probably go with a cross arm style.


Yes you can front squat.....if you really want to.

I'm 50, NEVER front squatted before EVER, last fall after watching some Oly lifting video told my self "i'm gonna front squat....deep"

I ran into the same excuse you did. And i also considered the wrist-strap thing, the plastic thing, and the crossarm method. But then i looked at all those Oly videos and said "hell, they ain't using any of that pussy stuff, they ain't using no belts, no knee wraps, no hoists and they ain't doin no 4 inches down and up"

Give this a try, it worked for an old stiff fart like me.

Start out goblet squatting. i know, i know.... it looks really sissy. Fine, try doin a set of 20 reps with a 150 lb dumbell ATG. Do these until the heavest db in the gym is easy. Then go to the barbell, take the weight you can back squat for 10 reps, now take off 75% and start out there. Thats the worst and most embarassing part. My delts and wrists hurt like hell for a month, but not nearly as much as my pride. Its been four months now, and the lift is just now starting to feel somewhat comfortable. And yes its still embarassing. I use to backsquat 275 lbs for 20 reps on a good day. I struggle with 225 lbs for a double in the front squat. But i'm gonna get better. Plus i'm really squatting now (i.e. not parallel half squatting). So far i've found it easier on my knees, at least for me my knees don't buckle in during front squatting. My lower back and i are now good friends again for the first time in 10 years. The front squat takes the stress off the lower back and moves it up to the upper back, which i love because the next day my upper back feels as good as my quads. I only wish someone had made me do these when i was younger.

its just not gonna come easy, and you have to swallow your pride a little. Its like a good boxer walking into an MMA gym, looks similar, ought to be no problem...until the bell goes ding.

good luck



I take about a shoulder width grip on the bar, and rotate my elbows to the far side of the bar and get them up high and relax my grip until the barbell is sitting just on my finger tips. i never felt really stable with the crossed arms approach, my only complaint with the way i do it is that it sometimes puts a hell of alot of tweakage on the wrist so i occasionally use wraps.

I hope that helps...try dropping the weight and experimenting a little.


I feel like using a thumbless ("suicide") grip helps hold the bar in the clean position, at least for me


The clean grip really isn't that hard. If you can apply pressure to your hand and get it to touch your shoulder, you have the flexibility. But if it's more comfortable to you, do the crossed arms or straps. I've done both, and I prefer the clean grip, but I do them in cycles.


I don't think the grip particularly matters to front squat. Like someone wlse wrote, your working the squat, not the grip. I use a clean(ish) grip but have the bar high almost to my collar bone and only have my first three fingers under the bar more to just support it against my delts. My pinkies and thumbs aren't on the bar. It's not the same grip I use when I do cleans because I don't need to accelerate the bar; just hold it there and it's tough to maintain a tight clean grip for a number of reps. I've never had luck with the crossed arm style. It never feels stable.


I'm in the same boat. Clean grip is hell on my not-so-flexible wrists. I'll do them cross armed most of the time. I probably should work on better flexibility though.