5 Front Squat Tips to Help Increase Your Max
It was 534 days ago when my training forever changed.
For those who don’t know much about me or the craziness that ensued more than a year ago, my training style had a total rebirth. I started squatting everyday – yes, every single day – with a conjugate style format in hopes of great increasing my strength and muscle mass. It’s been more than 500 days, and every day I’ve challenged myself on the squat, rotating squat-specific exercises daily.
Throughout this process and training overhaul I utilized many different versions of the program, but one of the most popular has been the Squat Everyday 2.0 plan that is on my YouTube page. I urge you to subscribe to my channel and take in all of the squat everyday madness on there.
Now when I first started, the initial 100 days were back squats only. I neglected the front squats for all the reasons I’m about to share and help you with in this article.
For one, I dodged the front squat because I simply didn’t have the wrist flexibility to hold it properly in a clean grip. This, in my opinion, is the most effective way to utilize the front squat as opposed to the folded-arm route, which I feel isn’t as athletic or allow for maximum strength in the movement.
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Second, I previously could never hit true depth on front squat due to ankle flexibility. When I mean true depth, I mean dropping into the bucket, getting in a catcher’s stance, going ass to grass, whatever you want to call it. Before of having poor flexibility in my ankles, I wasn’t getting close to any of those terms, which means I sure as hell wasn’t getting maximum benefit out of the front squat.
That needed to be fixed and I also needed to stay upright, a problem that revealed itself because I wasn’t sure where the bar should truly sit. With all of this, I felt like my back was at risk because I never felt comfortable in the lift, in part because of all the contributing factors previously mentioned.
It all added up to a complete mess and that was evident in my absolute lack of strength in the front squat, initially. I was trying to avoid injuring my back, but in the meantime I just felt incredibly weak.
Well, that was it. I had enough of feeling that way and said, “F*** it, it’s time to fix my front squat.” I went in the gym, got under the bar and got to work – which is always the best solution when you’re trying to improve a lift. It’s also the most obvious one but also a solution some seem to forget about.
I wanted to get better at front squat. The solution? I needed to front squat a heck of a lot more, both in frequency and in weight, and I needed to start now.
Hitting the Front Squat Frequently
The first day I front squatted was simply awful. I did a measly 205 pounds, almost dropped the weight, didn’t hit depth, almost choked myself out due to improper bar position and I just felt awful in general. It was clear I had plenty of work to do.
But as I got better and fixed those problem areas – bar position, wrist flexibility, ankle flexibility, hitting depth – a funny thing happened. I never had to worry about injury as my back, and specifically my lower back, got immensely stronger. My deadlift skyrocketed like never before and, working hand-in-hand, my front squat shot up as well. I didn’t truly realize the front squat is so core-oriented until I saw how much it helped my deadlift.
My conventional deadlift was 425 when I started and I recently hit an easy 520, also pulling 405 through 200 lbs. of band tension. My sumo deadlift is at 575 pounds, which I did weighing 198, and, oh yeah, my front squat is markedly better as well.
That 205 I did the first day is a distant memory as I have maxed out at 405, routinely hitting 315 or more for paused reps on the front squat.
It has come a long way thanks to fixing those problem areas and these tips can undoubtedly help your front squat game out as well.
It can be one of the most difficult lifts to master at first, but take note of each of these tips and watch not only your front squat reach new levels but your deadlift as well.