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Old 10-26-2009, 07:47 PM   #1
youngandfree
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Front squats, leave them in or switch them up?

Hey guys, it's been a while since posting. A few weeks ago I finished my first "test drive" blast. I made decent strength gains across the board even on calorie deficit since I am cutting up right now. So after cruizing, I started a new blast last week. My B1 quad exercise was free bar front squats. Now I haven't done front squats in 4-5 years, and then was on a smith machine. I wasn't expecting miracles, but they kind of sucked. I knew the first week would be kind of trial and error, but my problem was my shoulders gave out before my quads. I do arms across shoulders and elbows up grip instead of wrist bent back style. Balance was fine, but I only got up to 185 for 5 reps on heavy set. As comparison, today was back squats, and I did 250 for 5, and widowed 185 for 20. Last week my quads didn't feel like they did much at all.

So my question is, should I just tough it out and get my shoulders stronger as I go, or just swap it out for something else. Last blast I did squats, hack squats, and leg presses. This time, I have front squats, back squats, and single leg leg presses in that order. I just felt like my quads got cheated last week, and smoked them today. Maybe I will keep them, and take advantage of being able to do some additional cardio every other week until my quads start working hard at them. BTW, I am planning this blast for 8 weeks, since I am going on a cruise Dec 11, so I only have 3 more cycles until then. After the cruise, I am going to start eating above maintenance cals and start my winter bulk. I can't wait to hammer DC while on plenty of cals instead of low cals.

Thanks for the responses!
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:59 PM   #2
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use straps as handles for front squats and see if that makes a difference. i can't go very heavy with the arms crossed style and my wrists aren't flexible enough to hold the bar so i use the straps as handles. the heaviest i had ever gotten with the arms crossed style was 260 for a single because the bar slipped off after that rep. i am currently at 295 for 5 with the straps as a handle style. it's all about finding what works for you. you can also just take some time away from the fronts and come back to them a in a few months and see how that goes.
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:59 PM   #3
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yeah I have this challenge. I usually keep do fronts when i am losing body fat or when I want to schedule more taxing exercises and back squats are too much so Ill use front squats.

I have done them front squats on a few blasts and stalled pretty fast each time it seemed. if you are not progressing just switch them out and add them in another time.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:01 PM   #4
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yeah I have this challenge. I usually keep do fronts when i am losing body fat or when I want to schedule more taxing exercises and back squats are too much so Ill use front squats.

I have done them front squats on a few blasts and stalled pretty fast each time it seemed. if you are not progressing just switch them out and add them in another time.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dropshot001 View Post
use straps as handles for front squats and see if that makes a difference. i can't go very heavy with the arms crossed style and my wrists aren't flexible enough to hold the bar so i use the straps as handles. the heaviest i had ever gotten with the arms crossed style was 260 for a single because the bar slipped off after that rep. i am currently at 295 for 5 with the straps as a handle style. it's all about finding what works for you. you can also just take some time away from the fronts and come back to them a in a few months and see how that goes.
I'm having a hard time picturing what you mean about the straps?
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:09 PM   #6
dropshot001
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Originally Posted by youngandfree View Post
I'm having a hard time picturing what you mean about the straps?
+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


it feels more stable as you go up in weight. with just the bar it feels a little "loose" and it moves around on the shoulder too much.
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dropshot001 View Post
use straps as handles for front squats and see if that makes a difference. i can't go very heavy with the arms crossed style and my wrists aren't flexible enough to hold the bar so i use the straps as handles. the heaviest i had ever gotten with the arms crossed style was 260 for a single because the bar slipped off after that rep. i am currently at 295 for 5 with the straps as a handle style. it's all about finding what works for you. you can also just take some time away from the fronts and come back to them a in a few months and see how that goes.
x2 for me. I had given up on performing the exercise but threw them into my blast this time. I started at 95 lbs but I'm up to 165 lbs. It's rough but seeing your 295 for 5 is giving me hope! Nice work man.
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:14 PM   #8
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x2 for me. I had given up on performing the exercise but threw them into my blast this time. I started at 95 lbs but I'm up to 165 lbs. It's rough but seeing your 295 for 5 is giving me hope! Nice work man.
thanks. you're making some nice progress on fronts as well. it's not about the weight that you can move, its about progressing in weight/reps everytime you do the exercise.

front squats have been one of those things that keep progressing for me and everytime i go in there i know that i will make progress on it. basically i've found that dante refers to as the "power groove" on them which is awesome. now i need to find the power groove on all my other exercises.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:29 AM   #9
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Hey new to the board and the sight, I completely agree with the suggestion to use the straps. I have been doing the same with front squats and find that I am getting more and more flexible, and thus able to get closer and closer to the olympic style grip. I also agree that they work better as you go up in weight. Good luck.
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:58 AM   #10
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Thanks for the help guys. I will try the straps next time.
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Old 10-27-2009, 12:10 PM   #11
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i like to do my front squats ronnie coleman style. He is all over youtube, so you can find a video of him doing those.

The only problem i've had is trying to widowmaker front squats, last time i did that i tore up my shoulders. So i just do a hack squat widow or whatever...

The way to not make the shoulder feel that much pressure also corrects your form, because it forces you to lean slightly back to keep you straight, and it takes the pressure off the shoulders.
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Old 10-27-2009, 02:25 PM   #12
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Thanks for the visual on that. I had a hard time picturing the straps. I have to try those; my delts give up way too easily as well.
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Old 10-28-2009, 10:47 PM   #13
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I used to have a lot of trouble with front squats, by used to I mean my first 4 years of lifting...yeah. It all had to do with not being able to keep the bar up.

What I ended up doing was switching to front squats in the smith and having someone else turn the bar for me. I built up to doing 3 plates for 10 reps or so. Whether from that progression or from other increases in shoulder strength, I found that I could now do free bar front squats with heavy weights.

Another trick is to elevate the heals which will help keep the torso more upright and therefore making it easier to rack the bar accross the shoulder girdle, like so:

+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


Also, I wouldn't do front squats for the widow due to the shoulder/breathing being such a limiting factor.
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Old 10-29-2009, 01:09 AM   #14
Yev33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by youngandfree View Post
Hey guys, it's been a while since posting. A few weeks ago I finished my first "test drive" blast. I made decent strength gains across the board even on calorie deficit since I am cutting up right now. So after cruizing, I started a new blast last week. My B1 quad exercise was free bar front squats. Now I haven't done front squats in 4-5 years, and then was on a smith machine. I wasn't expecting miracles, but they kind of sucked. I knew the first week would be kind of trial and error, but my problem was my shoulders gave out before my quads. I do arms across shoulders and elbows up grip instead of wrist bent back style. Balance was fine, but I only got up to 185 for 5 reps on heavy set. As comparison, today was back squats, and I did 250 for 5, and widowed 185 for 20. Last week my quads didn't feel like they did much at all.

So my question is, should I just tough it out and get my shoulders stronger as I go, or just swap it out for something else. Last blast I did squats, hack squats, and leg presses. This time, I have front squats, back squats, and single leg leg presses in that order. I just felt like my quads got cheated last week, and smoked them today. Maybe I will keep them, and take advantage of being able to do some additional cardio every other week until my quads start working hard at them. BTW, I am planning this blast for 8 weeks, since I am going on a cruise Dec 11, so I only have 3 more cycles until then. After the cruise, I am going to start eating above maintenance cals and start my winter bulk. I can't wait to hammer DC while on plenty of cals instead of low cals.

Thanks for the responses!
Front squats can be a bitch to learn and get comfortable with, but they are worth it. Getting strong on them will carry over in all your other quad movements. They are the most direct way to hit your quads with free weights. It sounds like you're still not comfortable with them, so if you switch them out and decide to put them back in you will not be any better off than you are now. It's one thing for your strength to stall out on them and then switch them out, than not having the technique down right and switching them out. If your strength stalls out, you can come back to them and blow past your previous strength levels. I like to do mine with the arms crossed style, I actually got 275 for 5 last workout which is a PR. You should definetely try the straps version and see if it works better for you, I have tried it before and decided it wasn't for me, but it may very well work for you. Elevating the heels definetely helped me learn the movement in the beginning until I got the hang of it. Doing widowmakers with front squats is a bitch, Im going to expirement with doing the pumping style reps like Ronnie on my widowmakers and see how it goes. Because when I got 275 for 5 on my heavy set, I only got 185 for 15 for my widowmaker which was disappointing.
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:08 PM   #15
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I too couldn't do anything free at first....I learned for a while on the smith mach....I wouldn't say that I've mastered the movement but I have now come back to doing them free barbell style.
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:52 PM   #16
Yev33
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Its definetely a good idea to learn them on the smith machine until you get the hang of it. Then progress to plates under the heels, then you can do them flat footed. I remember how excited and proud I was when I was finally able to them flat footed, I made it a point to learn how to do them and was able to accomplish that.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:52 AM   #17
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What im about to say will most likely ,borderline on heresy,but that is just the controversial guy I am.

I tried to do front squats for a period of time,really could not get the hang of it,let alone make substantial progress with it.

Then I found the solution,smith squats ,with placing my feet way in front of the bar,there you have it a front squat,which is technically
not difficult to do,puts the focus on your quads,without the damn postural, grip and other problems one might have.

An I personally never felt my knees just in case some are wondering
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Old 10-31-2009, 09:06 PM   #18
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Using straps seemed more ineffective for me than crossing the arms....I find usually the larger the shoulder development a person has the easier front squats become. It gives you a "shelf" to sit the weight behind.
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