If the latest Mike Boyle article on T-Nation has you considering the Front Squat, you may be mindful of just how awkward it can be to hold the bar. Like Zercher Squats, they’re often overlooked simply due to the difficulty.
There are several ways to hold the bar for the Front Squat. If one method doesn’t feel right, or your current flexibility or injury precludes it, try one of the others. It really is a great exercise.
This is generally considered the optimum position – if you have the option, do it this way.
Think of it simply as the top of a Hang Clean (a reverse barbell curl if you like). It will get a lot easier with practice.
Another common method is to cross the arms over the bar, holding the left side with the right hand and vice versa. If the abovementioned Clean method is out of the question for you, try this.
Note that the hands are only helping to stop the bar rolling about, rather than trying to support it.
Whilst frowned upon by many purists, this technique is still used occasionally. Clasp your hands together and use them to push the bar onto your chest/front delts.
A much less common version (but intriguing nonetheless) is the Log Bar Front Squat. As you can see, a log bar prompts a vertical grip, which takes a similar amount of flexibility as the Clean grip.
I noticed this yesterday in Mike Boyle’s article Strong Athlete, Zero Injuries. It’s an excellent idea, and well worth considering if you lack the flexibility required for the Clean.
JV Askem had a similar idea many years ago with two pairs of pliers.
The Stringray device is designed to counter the basic deficiencies of the crossed arms approach. The two pads help keep the bar aligned and stable, allowing the widest possible grip to be used. The Stingray also lifts the bar slightly, keeping the weight over the front delts whilst keeping it away from your throat.
If the Clean position is out due to lack of flexibility, the Stingray is well worth considering.
Front Squat Harness
The Front Squat Harness performs a similar role to the Stingray (making the Front Squat a little more comfortable); although in a very different way. Here the bar is held – again with reasonable stability – slightly further forward, and is held using a narrow hammer grip.
If it looks like a serious, large, strong device; it is. The original version was tested to over 600 lb, the current model exceeds that by a good margin.
Got two kettlebells? Try this. Remember to Clean them one at a time.
The Goblet Squat is often considered a separate exercise, however I’ve included it here for completeness. It can be performed either using a dumbbell as shown, or by grabbing a kettlebell ‘by the horns‘.
If none of the different holds shown above appeal, there’s always the ‘hands free‘ method (thanks Kris for the video). Unconventional to say the least.