Breaking it Down

There was a time not long ago when I struggled miserably in my attempts to front squat. I couldn’t find a hand position I was comfortable with, the “bodybuilding” style with arms crossed didn’t work and I gave up on the lift shortly after every attempt to try again. What I didn’t realize was that my front rack position was non-existent, and that is the key to front squatting.

Bored one December day, I saw a sale price on Greg Everett’s Olympic LIfting training book that came with video demonstrations built in. I jumped on it and spent the next few months learning how to Snatch and Clean and Jerk. I’ve always been amazed by those two lifts and had absolutely no idea how to perform them. Greg’s system was to break each lift down to its basic components and to practice them with a very light bar of some kind. I practiced in my dining room with a 20-lb Gold’s bar I picked up at Wal*Mart.  As anyone who’s ever done a proper Clean knows, you have to use a front rack position, so I got a lot of practice.

After a few months of Oly Lifting I went back to a more Powerlifting focused plan, but my newly acquired skills have stayed with me and my Front Squat is now a thing. Instead of being a lift I try on occasion,  fail at and give up immediately, it’s now a regular part of my training and sure enough, progress takes place. Anyone who struggles with keeping the bar in place or with holding the bar Olympic style can benefit from a step-by-step approach to developing a strong front rack position.


Front Squat

  • 190 x 7 (Rep PR)

That set took a lot of me, so even dropping the weight 5% my next set was a fatigue-shortened affair:

  • 180 x 4

I felt strong though, so I wasn’t going to let a little fatigue prevent me from doing more quality work, so I decided to put a little weight on the bar and knock out some singles.

I can still recall the first time I attempted to put two plates on each side for a Front Squat. It was intimidating as hell, but no longer. Practice, progression, consistency.

Weighted Dips

Weighing in at a solid 179.5 this morning, I added 37.5-lbs to my belt for a 217 total poundage and proceeded to bang them out.

  • 217 x 6, 6, 4

That’s all I had on tap for today, so it was decision-making time for any “assistance” work. I left.


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