lyorn: (Default)
lyorn ([personal profile] lyorn) wrote in [community profile] lifting_heavy_things2015-01-24 05:50 pm

Front Squat Trouble: Mobility, biomechanics, or doing it wrong?

Hi you all,

I'm back to doing front squats and I'm at a loss at what to do with my arms and how to even begin fixing it.

I hope the following makes any kind of sense:

I can do any two of the below at the same time, but not all three, which would, as I understand it (I studied the online descriptions but did not find a closeup of hand/shoulder area), be needed for correct bar position in a front squat:
#1 Keep my upper arms parallel to the floor
#2 Bend my elbows and wrists to that the back sides of my fingers are on my shoulders
#3 Put a bar on my shoulders in front of my neck so that it rests stable and support it slightly with my fingers.

What happens:
#1 fail: If I do #2 and #3, my elbows are pointing to the floor at 45°
#2 fail: If I do #1 and #3, I have to bend my wrists more than 90° backwards, which I can do only with outside force and a lot of pain.
#3 fail: If I do #1 and #2, the base of my fingers is in line with my spine. Can't put a bar through my neck...

Now, my right shoulder isn't what it used to be, and my wrists won't bend backwards more than 90° without a lot of pain, so that might be part of it. It might be possible to train that. (It seems that the guy on the image in "New Rules of lifting for Abs" is bending his wrists like ouch.)

When I compare posture with a friend, in (it seems) identical pose the base of his fingers is in front of his neck. I know that if one assumes oneself to be a freak of nature, one is usually wrong, but, what?

Also, it says to put the bar on the shoulders so that it will stay in place even without hands. Um. I can either round my upper back a *lot* and put the bar on the shoulders, or put it on my clavicle, which does not seem to be made to support that kind of weight, or, well, support it with my larynx, which seems an even worse idea :-S.

Any hints how to go about that? I can do front squats with 25kg (55 lbs) quite well, but only with elbows very out of line, and some pain in my wrists.
ratcreature: FAIL! (fail!)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2015-01-24 08:05 pm (UTC)(link)
FWIW, considering that I have never tried to do a front squat, but looking at online front squat instructions and your description, when I try to arrange my arms like this with a broom handle to stand in for the bar, I run into the same problems you describe, so whatever the problem is, I don't think you are particularly freaky.

That said, I found a positioning explanation for learning front squats that says for the bar position you should do a "Frankenstein squat" first, i.e. keep the arms outstretched with a bar supported by the shoulders, and that that would be the same bar position as in the front squat, and that instruction said that the shoulders should be forward and the bar resting against the throat, but the thoracic spine should not be rounded. I can balance my broom handle on my shoulders in that position, but when I then bring my hands back I can't bend my wrist far enough to get my fingers beneath it, to match the pictures of front squat positions I've seen, even if I don't want to grip.

Sorry I can't give advice how to resolve the problem, but you are definitely not alone.

ETA: I've seen instructions that explain a front squat variety with crossed arms, as an alternative for people who lack wrist flexibility/have trouble with the wrists in the standard "clean grip" variety:
The disadvantage is apparently that the bar rests less secure, but maybe that variant might work better for you?
Edited 2015-01-24 20:51 (UTC)
daedala: line drawing of a picture of a bicycle by the awesome Vom Marlowe (Default)

[personal profile] daedala 2015-01-25 01:06 am (UTC)(link)
I can't do the clean grip at all (my wrist extension is super lousy). I keep meaning to try the crossed-arm grip; thanks for the reminder.
weirdquark: Stack of books (squats)

[personal profile] weirdquark 2015-03-15 03:09 am (UTC)(link)
This is a pretty old post, so maybe you've figured things out by now, but here goes.

Okay, I had to go do some front squats with the bar to see what I do, and I think that in addition to keeping your upper arms parallel to the floor, you also need to keep your shoulders up, kind of. Which is part of keeping them parallel, but you're also...holding the shoulder a little higher? Not shrugging, but pushing them forward a bit. And I don't think my wrists aren't actually bent back more than 90 degrees. I tried taking some pictures, but it's night, so the lighting is terrible and I'm not actually sure you can tell what's going on in them anyway.

I never had trouble getting into front squat position, but from talking to other people, having mobility problems and not being able to hold your arms in the correct position is pretty common. So you might look up mobility exercises.

But if your problem is that when your arms and hands are correct your fingers are at your spine, pushing your arms forward should fix that.
Edited (Changed icon to picture of squat form) 2015-03-15 03:16 (UTC)