2 Things Limiting Your Front Squat
Updated: Feb 13, 2020
Two common problems I often see in the gym in regards to correct performance in the front squat are:
Tight scapula retractors and
Weak scapula retractors
If your infrasprinatus and teres minor are too tight you will struggle to grip the bar correctly,
it will be tough to keep your elbows up and in, and will have a hard time staying upright in the front squat.
To correct this problem, we can get some quick results with our performance sessions, or you can go and see a good soft tissue practitioner. On top of this, some correctly programmed mobility exercises will help. Our exercise physiologist, Gem, takes care of this for all of our clients.
Whilst you are working on correcting these limitations, you can use straps to help keep your elbows high whilst performing the front squat. But don't use these as the solution long term. Make sure you try and correct the problem, which is often the tightness in the shoulder. It will help reduce the risk of injury to the shoulder.
Rounding of the upper back is a common problem in the front squat. This can be due to fatigue or just a lack of strength in the upper back muscles. We don't front squat for more than six reps, as fatigue of the scapulae re-tractors becomes the limiting factor (another tip I got from Charles Poliquin that has served me well). I still do see some rounding of the upper back at times when athletes are performing heavy front squats, so this is a clue that they need more work on the strength of these muscles.
All types of rows are used to help address this issue. Seated rope rows to neck, single arm dumbbell rows, bent-over barbell rows, all sorts of variations are used.
Strengthening the upper back will help all lifts, not just the front squat, so it is worth the time putting in the work. You will find your bench press and deadlift will improve and just the general health of your shoulders will be better.
Hope this helps.