Tag Archives: front squat

Squats – can you push your knees too far out?

One of the most common and widely discussed fixes for a person who shows knee valgus (knees coming in) in the squat, is for the person to “push their knees out.” The opposite of knee valgus is known as knee varus which means knees going outwards. However, just like knees going inwards, knees outwards can be undesirable as well.

Knees being out is far less of a problem and far less common than knees coming in. Continue reading

My experiment with Smolov Jr – week 3

Facing Week 3 is a bit like the last couple of miles in a 10k race. You can see the finish line, the brain lets go of its reluctance to supporting your body in this physical effort and there is even enough energy left for the sprint finish! From my experience of running 10k that is how it felt to me. Apparently, there are two key different approaches people can take to physical and mental challenge. One is to at the whole thing with an “I’ve got this” attitude and race all out from the
start, and another is my more cautious one. Break it down into separate challenges and coax myself through stage, one at a time. Whatever works for you! Smolov Jr definitely favors the former approach – 4 sessions, 31 sets, 133 reps each week to be exact. In Week 3, I would be front squatting a total of 7776.50kg!! Continue reading

How do you load your 5×5?

The 5×5 is a common set/rep scheme, for squats in particular. I really like to use the 5×5 for my front squat training as I tend to make good progress on it as well of course the low(ish) amount of reps being good for front squats.

I have come across a lot of queries on forums about how to load the 5×5. Many sources state that the load for a 5×5 should be around 80-85% of 1RM. There are a few variations on how we can work the 5×5 with this percentage range, which I will discuss below: Continue reading

My experiment with Smolov Jr – week 1

Do I even Front Squat? My experiment with Smolov Jr.

I cannot lie. When I first learned about the Smolov Jr. squatting programme, I
was only impressed by its promise that I would have to eat more and sleep more
deeply. Oh yeah, you have to go in the squatting pain cave. Isn’t that what proper
lifters are supposed to do? BUT, what has squatting with such volume and
intensity four times a week got to do with Olympic Lifting anyway? At my age, a
lot!

Why Smolov Jr.? The simplicity of the programming; the chance to focus on
improving volume, intensity and quality of my front squat, not to mention
strength. Why NOT do it?

So here are my reasons for starting this programme. Continue reading

Fixing elbows up in the front squat

Many people – myself included – struggle with keeping elbows up in the front squat. This is an extremely important part of front squat technique however and needs to be learned, improved and executed at all times.

There are a few problems that can arise when our elbows drop in the front squat. All of these link to each other:

Your back rounds

If your elbows drop, your upper and mid back will round and your abs will no longer be able to support you. If the back rounding is excessive, the bar will fall off your shoulders and you won’t be able to complete the rep.

Something more important to be aware of though, is that allowing your back to round like this can really strain your back muscles and your spine.  Continue reading

Ask Alis & Sharon: How can I reduce wrist pain when I front squat?

Sharon says:

As i have had a few issues myself with the front squat, here are a few things i have done to help me progress. I love this movement. It is really helping me have a stronger trunk.

Getting into a good rack position isn’t just about wrist flexibility. It also requires good shoulder mobility, thoracic mobility, and flexibility in your lats and triceps, so those areas can always benefit from opening up the range of movement?

When you are working on the clean grip, you can just have your finger tips under the bar; at first even just two will suffice, the index and middle fingers. This helps many lifters with limited wrist flexibility use the clean grip effectively. Remember it is your deltoids that are supporting the bar so brace your upper back and ensure the bar is sitting firmly cushioned on that shelf.
As the weight gets heavier i really have to drive myself up, not just with my legs and butt, but also my elbows and shoulders (so i don’t tip forward). If i do tip forward at all, that puts more pressure on my hands and wrist as i have to use them to keep the bar balanced on my shoulders. A good front squat should be possible with no hands at all in fact. But like you, i like the security of knowing my fingers are underneath it.

One other tip i can suggest, is to reduce the number of reps you do. With front squats, generally the upper back will fatigue before the legs do. If your upper back fatigues then your back will probably cave and the bar will put more pressure on your hands and wrists.  Keep reps low (no more than 5 is usually recommended); and if you’re worried about the workout lacking volume, you can increase the number of sets instead. With lower reps, you can continue to get the benefit of improving your front squat form and do it more optimally before fatigue or pain compromises your great work.

Alis says:

I agree with the above. There are lots of things that you could do (some people say wrist curls, some say you can use wrist straps to hold the bar…. etc.), but I personally think that, in most cases (for people who don’t have injuries and generally have good range of motion in their joints) the only and best way to get excellent at something is to train the exact movement more often.

I would add one more thing: you can hold the bar in the rack position for X seconds (I like 60-90 seconds) and just get used to that position. So, get into the power rack, rack the bar in the front rack position, and just stand there and hold it. Either stand or get into the squat position. But then stay still and just maintain the rack position for X seconds. This will help your wrists (and your core!) adjust to the position.

Tip: How to find your landing position

If you’re just starting out with Olympic weightlifting, you’ll still be fiddling around with the foot placement for the Olympic lifts.

There are two feet placements you need to be concerned with – the start position (where you first begin the lift) and the landing position (where you catch the bar in the squat in your clean or snatch). Continue reading