The Back Squat will likely always be the most popular Squat variation, but my favorite rests the barbell directly on your collarbone and can put you to sleep if your front rack positioning is incorrect. Yes, I am talking about the very underutilized Front Squat.
So why is the Front Squat the Squat variation that people tend to avoid most often? Well, because it is hard work and can be extremely uncomfortable.
The Front Squat is one of the most effective lower-body exercises, and if done correctly, can translate to huge increases in several of your other compound lifts such as your Back Squat and your conventional Deadlift. However, a common mistake that I see is people doing the Front Squat incorrectly and letting their front rack position break down.
Your front rack position can make or break your Front Squat, and when your front rack position breaks down, the whole lift can break down, no matter how strong you are.
There are several cues that I use when I Front Squat to ensure that my front rack position is strong and unbreakable.
Keep Your Elbows High
I like to focus on throwing my elbows to the ceiling. The first thing that wants to go when I am front squatting is my elbows, and if I can fight them up, I can almost always fight through the lift if my lower body and core are strong enough.
Four Fingers on the Bar
When I first began front squatting, I could only get two fingers around the bar in my front rack position. I can now get all four fingers wrapped underneath the bar. I got to this point by practicing my positioning.
I would load up close to a max weight and just practice getting under it with two fingers, three fingers and eventually until I could get enough wrist flexibility to get all four fingers underneath it. I would not unrack the weight, just practice getting underneath it.
I am not saying there is a right or wrong way to put your hands/arms when front squatting, but I am saying that I am able to lift much more weight when I keep all four fingers wrapped underneath the bar.
Front Rack Holds
The next step in this progression would be to unpack the weight. Start with about 60-70 percent of your max Front Squat and unrack it, walk it back, and hold it for 10-15 seconds or until you feel your front rack position begins to break down. Really focus on keeping your elbows high on this.
Keep Your Core Tight!
You are only as strong as your core is. One of the lost leaders of the Front Squat is your core strength. Most people lose their front rack position because their core is weak. During your Front Squat, if you feel like you are falling forward and your back begins to round, I would really put a big focus on your core strength. I would do as many weighted core exercises as you possibly can to help combat this. Standing Cable Crunches and Weighted Planks are some great examples.
If your front rack position is still breaking down and you feel that your core is strong, the problem could be your lat mobility. Immobile lats will not allow you to get your arms/elbows in a great position to hold the barbell through a max effort lift. If you think this is you, try rolling your lats out with a foam roller five days a week and see if that helps. Be consistent with it and you should see a major improvement in your positioning.
The front rack position is a huge key to nailing your heavy Front Squats, but it seems like something the majority of lifters struggle with. Give these five front rack cues a try to help improve your front squat performance!