Front Squatting: Mobility

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Did you know?

One way to develop front rack flexibility is to practice it; have a friend help drive your elbows up for assistance.

You know how to perform a front squat. You know why you should be doing it regularly. Now we have to deal with the pains associated with the front squat that may prevent us from doing them well (or at all). A widespread fault among the fit is the thin patience and scarce vigilance to perform self-maintenance on joints and muscles. Admit it: we are all guilty of this crime. However, just as the front squat should be a regular component of your program, so too should mobility work. Without stretching and myofascial release, you will not go far with the front squat – or with building strength in general.

“I’m not flexible enough to front squat…”

As previously stated, the front squat should be performed with the clean grip front rack position as opposed to the crossed-arm front rack position. Aside from the stability issue, the crossed-arm position also changes the dynamic of the front squat. As stated by Bill Starr of Ironman Magazine:

Your shoulders must be flexible enough to rack the bar across your front deltoids so that your triceps are parallel to the floor. The form often shown of a bodybuilder crossing his arms to hold a bar while he does front squats is not acceptable. Since you can’t lock the bar in place, you can’t use much weight. Thus it becomes an auxiliary exercise rather than a primary one.

Whether or not you possess this flexibility largely affects the entire front squat movement from improper thoracic rounding to hyper protruding knees. If you find yourself lacking the flexibility to perform a proper front squat, here are a few sources to begin developing the mobility to do so:

Fixing the front rack position

  • Straight from MobilityWOD, Kelly Starrett puts forth a comprehensive guide to improving positioning in order to reduce pain so that the front squat can be optimized. As a coach or an athlete, keep it simple and address the specific pain or problem area accordingly. In this case, consider whether it is a question of one of the following:
    • thoracic extension
    • shoulder position
    • wrist flexibiliy
  • also provides some simple stretching exercises to improve the front rack position, which mostly involve, well… holding the rack position.
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