Before I jump into talking about this week's exercise of the week and why I think you should try incorporating it into your own programs I wanted to share a short bit of information and ask for a favor. If you don't know I work and live in Joplin, MO. It has been my home for all 20 years of my short life. Two years ago on the day I graduate from Joplin High School, Joplin was struck by an F-5 tornado. It literally went through the heart of the town taking with it one of the two hospitals in town, my former high school, and a countless number of homes and businesses.
It was one of the most awful experiences of my life and many others to see your hometown in ruins. But this terrible diaster brought my community together. Resident's of Joplin rallied around one of another to lend help to those affected. We also received an overwhelming amount of support from distant as well as near-by surrounding communities. It was an amazing thing to watch. No one waited for some one to come help people just picked up their chainsaws, shovels, and gloves went to the nearest ruined house and got to work clearing debris then moved on to the next house. It was a relentless effort.
It has been two years now since it happened and I am proud to say that Joplin has risen from those ruins and the recovery is well on it's way. But I share this experience to hopefully strike a chord of sympathy in your heart because for the past two days we have been experiencing severe weather again throughout the Midwest. A day ago a town called Moore, Oklahoma was hit by what is being reported as an F-5 tornado. Two elementary schools were destroyed as well as a countless number of homes. The death toll is already high and is expected to continue to rise. I can literally feel what these people are going through as I write this. And I know they are going to need every bit of help they can get. Just as we did here in Joplin.
Now Moore, Oklahoma is no stranger to tornados they have a long history with them and I am sure they are already well on their way to beginning to work towards recovery, but they will need support. I don't know how many people read this blog, but for those who do if you could please help by either donating to the Red Cross or by spreading the word about the help that is needed in Oklahoma I would be very appreciative. I know the citizens of Moore will not wait around for help to come before they begin recovery, but I do know that help and support will be appreciate and lend speed to their recovery. Anything you can give will help. Whether it is money, time, or a simple post on Facebook to make others aware of the need.
Now let's talk about the Front Squat.
Man do I hate the Front Squat! It is by far the most uncomfortable exercise out there. I mean really who wants to press a metal bar up against their throat voluntarily? But it is a wonderfully beneficial exercise for lower body strength. It also challenges your mobility and stability in the appropriate areas. Most of my clients hate this exercise, but love the benefits. I am sure you will develop a similar love-hate relationship with the Front Squat.
The Front Squat is different from the back squat in one major way and several minor ones as well. The big difference is that the barbell is held across the front of the shoulders against the front of your neck instead of across the back of your shoulders and neck. But the Front Squat is also different because it requires a more upright posture, less hip extension, and more ankle mobility to maintain proper positioning of the load.
It can be used as a great progression tool as well to bridge the gap from exercises such as bodyweight squats and goblet squats to barbell based squat patterns. I personally use it as the bridging pattern from goblet squat to the back squat because it keeps the load in the same position as during the goblet squat, but it allows people to get use to stabilizing a barbell effectively.
How to Perform the Front Squat
Before I give my numbered detail let me preface by explaining that this is how I prefer to coach and perform the Front Squat. There do a exist a few debated points regarding proper execution, but this is how I feel it best works for me and my clients. There are also a few different grip varieties that can be used and I do choose the grip based on comfortability my clients find with each, but in this video I am going to use a clean grip.
1. To begin pick up a barbell with an open overhand grip. Reverse curl the barbell so your elbows are flexed and level with your shoulders pointing straight ahead. The barbell should now rest you shoulders and allow your hands to relax their grip on the bar. Below is a picture of what this position should resemble.
2. Position your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed straight ahead.
3. Next descend into the bottom of the squat by driving your hips back and knees out while maintaining an upright torso and elbows pointed straight ahead at shoulder level. Below is a picture of the bottom position of the front squat from both the side and front.4. Now ascend up out of the Front Squat by driving your knees out, feet into the ground, and keeping your elbows up.
Below is a video of me demonstrating the full Front Squat. Remember depth is personal. The more mobility you can acquire the deeper the squat can be. I hope you try working the Front Squat into your normal cycle of lifts.
There you have it the terrible, yet wonderful Front Squat. I think this will make a great addition to your exercise arsenal. Start light and slow. Master the form before going any heavier. If you feel like you don't have the proper mobility to perform the exercise then please regress to the goblet squat (shown below) and continue to work on obtaining adequate mobility.
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training