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What is a strong front squat?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 1:21 PM
by Charles Poliquin
Well let’s first define the technique of what a good front squat is:

For a front squat to count in my book, the athlete has to go ass to grass depth. In other words, the bottom third of the hamstrings should completely cover the calves once the bottom position is reached. None of that quarter or even half squat versions should count.

In my opinion, based on both experience and normative data from colleagues of mine, I think the front squat is the best exercise to truly assess overall maximal leg strength in the athletic world.

Well, the front squat is more highly correlated with performance in lower body extremity sports than the back squat. In bobsledding, alpine skiing, and speed skating, the front squat can help predict times. So, the front squat is a better predictor lift when it comes to testing.

Why? Because if you cheat in the front squat you'll kill yourself. For example, you can lift more weigh in the back squat with some forward leaning. You can't do that in the front squat without hurting yourself.

That said, you can't throw away all your tools. I partly agree with these coaches, but I'll keep the back squat in my toolbox. I use a lot of split squats too. There are over seventy ways to squat; saying you need only one is like saying you only need a hammer to build a house.

By the way, the best front squat I've ever seen was by a 165 pound weightlifter who front squatted 534 pounds. This wasn't an American College Footall version either; this guy was ass down, left a stain on the carpet. The strongest front squatters I've seen are guys doing around 3.3 times body weight.

As for the style of front squat, I prefer the Olympic version rather than arms-crossed style. Now, if the lifter's arms are too big or he lacks flexibility, then he can use straps.
One thing to remember when using front squats is to never do more than six reps per set. This is because your rhomboids tire out isometrically before your squads concentrically. You don't want to get to a point where you're squatting with a kyphotic posture. That's when accidents happen.

Here is a table that illustrates the pound for pound ratio of strength according to different weight classes.  As mentioned in these series, relative strength decreases as bodyweight goes up. So for example, a 3 times bodyweight front squat is Herculean when weighing 60 kg. It would put you amongst the top three strongest men in the World for that weight class,  but double bodyweight for a 140 kg man would have achieve the same World ranking respectively.




Copyright ©2011 Charles Poliquin




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