Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Real Athletes Front Squat--Correctly!

It doesn't have to be heavy. Put a med ball or a hold a DB at the chest.

The front squat, a staple of weightlifters, is a fabulous lower body pushing for any athlete. It helps to create and challenges lower body mobility, shoulder girdle mobility and torso stability. If you can overhead squat and front squat, chances are you are pretty good to go with your basic lower and upper extremity mobility.

I prefer not to do more than 5 reps in a set, ever. I require all athletes learn to use the "clean grip". There is no crossed-arm front squatting in my house. There are no Sting Rays either. There are no straps. And I haven't come across anyone who hasn't been able to master this grip with a little effort and practice--unless there is a fixed wrist deformity secondary to injury. That's another story.

If the athlete has lat/teres major tightness, do a little contract relax work with an empty bar in the hands. The position may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable to the athlete at first, but with practice it will become second nature. Learn how to elevate the shoulder girdle to support the bar and put the bar on your deltoids. The elbows are up, up, up as your hips go down, down, down. You should not have to hold the bar in your hands.

If you are an old fogie like me and male, you might have to work a little harder to rid yourself of your shoulder girdle inflexibility. If your athlete exhibits excessive thoracic flexion, you need to work with him (and it is almost always a him that has this issue) and help him get it before he attempts higher weights.

This lift is ESSENTIAL and a prerequisite for anyone who is required to learn a power clean or clean. Why it is not regularly and properly taught in many high schools is beyond me? Is it because the staff cannot do it themselves? Hmmm....

My preference is to teach this lift in conjunction with or possibly even prior to a back squat. If the athlete has hammy/posterior hip flexibility issues, they should be able to front squat without lumbar flexion. They will learn to descend by lowering the hips down vs. sitting back. Burly high school males cannot get away with cheating on this exercise and will be dissuaded (hopefully) from loading the bar with stupid weights. Young women will enjoy a new level of confidence doing this exercise with terrific mechanics in a co-ed weight room.

And "mature" women will command a level of respect in a co-ed facility or high school weight room. Nothing better than knocking off 3 sets 5 @ 70kgs in the midst of the football team or the 24 Hour Fitness goombahs. The plateheads will afford you any area you want in the free weight area--kinda like the Alien worker-bees backing away from Ripley when she wields the flamethrower in the Queen Alien's chamber. And the football kids will say "yes ma'am" when you tell them to take some weight off the bar and do that set again, correctly, with a proper grip.


climber511 said...

Cheer - Cheer - Clap - Clap

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Who is in the picture demonstrating? He has very good form!

Very well written article.

The Iron Maven said...

That would be a young Mr. Jason Brown, a competitive weightlifter now at LSU-Shreveport.