Friday, June 6, 2008

Front Squat

The Front Squat

The Front Squat fulfills several roles in a variety of training regimes. In and of itself, it is a variation of the more wide-spread 'back' squat, however the front squat requires more midline stabilization and more flexibility. It forces a more upright posture (by way of bar position) that more closely mimics many athletic skills. An easy example for me is judo; if you are interested you can review an article I wrote a few years ago here.

Shockingly, I can't find a single force diagram on the internet comparing squat styles, so I will urge you to refer to Greg Glassman's lecture here. In it he focuses on Overhead Squats, but you get the picture. In a continuum of load displacement, back then front then overhead describes the progression of sequentially longer or further displaced (from COG) moment arms, and hence greater potential loads on the core, while reducing the actual compression on the spine.

It is this greater training demand while at the same time lessened forces on the spine that make the front and overhead squat variations such powerful training tools. Hence, it is my opinion that with mastery of the most fundamental bodyweight squat, there's no reason why a trainee primarily interested in health or performance shouldn't dive right into the front squat.

That being said, the front squat is also a tool of choice for several communities. Mike Boyle time and again has made a wonderful argument for why he has replaced the back squat in his training programs with the front variation. If you don't know Mike, he's an amazing coach that has found great success training hockey and baseball players, as well as mentoring other coaches.

Pavel Tsatsouline places heavy emphasis on this exercise within the RKC system, perhaps out of necessity, perhaps to balance the posterior demands of the swing and snatch in KB lifting.

Olympic Style Weightlifters can't live without the front squat. It is commonly understood that you can't clean what you can't front squat, and Greg Glassman has suggested that most lifters' clean numbers will be a reflection of a combination of their front squat and deadlift. Not only is the bottom of the front squat the receiving position for a full or 'squat' clean, but the ability to then reascend with that load will dictate success or failure in the lift. For an example, here's a training hall video of former World and European champion Vencelas DABAYA:

He's front squatting 200kg, at a weight of about 70kg. Ie, just shy of 3 times bodyweight. So, don't try that at home folks.

I'd also like to introduce you to the Crossfit approach. Here's a few chicks working on a new PR. Observe the form notes.

My intent is for this to serve as a thorough introduction. As such, I hope this helps to reinvigorate your Front squat practice. If you've never fronted before, I strongly urge you to get a coach. Barring that, find a similarly inclined lifting partner, and start light. Really light. And get as good as you can as fast as you can, because heavy is the only way to lift!


Spider63 said...

cool video. I have never been into the full squats, I am afraid to blow out my knees. I do a lot of cardio, so I wonder if that is good enough?

Jason Struck , RKC said...

one step at a time, i suppose. For weight loss, may I recommend:

you seem to be suffering from A LOT of misinformation, far too much for me to address personally.

Jason Struck , RKC said...

PS- that is Tom Jones.

Oh yeah.