December 9, 2011
December 13, 2011

This was just the week for Front Squats – not that that’s a bad thing. Especially if you’re someone who listed “improving the front rack position” as one of your new goals.

6 x 3 Front Squats + 6 DB RDLs

A big key to success with the front squats will be flexibility/mobility. Getting your elbows up with the triceps parallel to the floor is essential to keeping the weight centered as close as possible to the body’s center of gravity. Not to mention the hip and ankle flexibility which will allow you to sit back into the squat while keeping the chest up.

So, flexibility and mobility will make front squats easier to perform, and thus are key to adding weight and reps. However, they aren’t the most important points. The most important point of the front squat is starting the squat with the hips, not the knees.

It’s imperative that you not initiate your front squats by bending your knees first. This puts the weight forward of your center of gravity, causing the body to pitch forward. The more you pitch forward, the more the weight will start pulling off your shoulders and into your hands. This will make the lift more difficult due to the awkward distribution of the weight, but more importantly, this precarious position can also quickly put you at risk for injury: in trying to correct the movement, most people will try to re-right themselves using their backs, pulling themselves back up into position (as opposed to driving their elbows up, which will re-center the weight and make it easier to stand up without hurting themselves). To avoid this situation, make sure you initiate each front squat – as well as any other squat – with the hips. Tilt the hips back first, accentuating the lumbar arch, and then slowly lower yourself while maintaining an upright torso position with the knees pushed out and elbows driving up.

To further emphasize the necessity for hip movement and core stability, Sunday’s front squats were mixed with 6 DB RDLs (Romanian Deadlifts) per round of squats. While RDLs are often considered a supplemental movement to the deadlift, they have excellent carry over to the Front Squat, particularly in light of the conversation above. RDLs (along with their brethren, the Good Morning) help to develop strong spinal erectors (as well as glutes and hamstrings). The spinal erectors (“erector spinae muscles”) run the length of the back, from the sacrum all the way up to the base of the skull, and are responsible for keeping the head and spine extended while the body is under load, thus allowing a lifter to maintain a “neutral” spine position with the lower back naturally arched (rather than rounded). When you now consider the emphasis on maintaining a strong core and tight back, especially with the weight located forward of the center of gravity during the front squat, you can see the benefit of the Front Squat/RDL mix.

Some really good form and effort. The hard work and effort is paying off, including a few PR’s on Sunday: Erica and Amelia at 100# for all 3 reps, Steph for 3reps at 120#, Sebastian for the 3 at 205 (his old 1rep PR), and Julia for 3 at 190#. Any other PR’s? If so, let’s hear about ’em in the comments section!

Team Met-Con:
50-40-30-20-10 DUs,
10-8-6-4-2 Burpee Pull-Ups,
50-40-30-20-10 Sit-Ups

In teams of three people, complete each descending ladder in order and with only one person working at a time. So, P1 does 50 DUs, then P2 does 50 DUs, then P3 does 50 DUs, before P1 starts on 40 DUs. Scaling for the DUs was 3x single skips. Continue in this manner until all the DUs have been completed, and then move onto Burpee Pull-Ups and then Sit-Ups. Speaking of Burpee Pull-Ups, Tom called ’em “burples,” but I think “Burp-Ups” come much closer to the mark, in both description and the resulting feeling. Yea or Nay?

A cool little team work-out to close out Sunday. Speaking of PR’s, it was awesome to see Ben Brown banging out full burpees after his pec injury! One week left till our CFDC Holiday get-together. Thanks to all who RSVP’d; to those who haven’t please do so! We’ll send out a reminder e-mail today, but I thought I’d remind everyone on here as well. See you all Tuesday.



  1. Erica says:

    I felt very proud of my PR yesterday! Having done front squats two Fridays previously and not making it much past 80#s I think, I was able to lift 100# for the last 5/6 sets. But the best part of it all, I can walk without difficulty today! I worked with Christian and Ami, who both did an awesome job as well 🙂

    Partnered with the winning ladies (Steph and Amelia) to pull out a met-con win, not that it was a competition, right Sebastian? The burpulls were challenging for me and on the larger sets, felt more like Tom Cruise in mission impossible scaling the wall to get up, but on the smaller sets, felt like I was actually using momentum from the burpee to do the pull up.

  2. SBV says:

    It’s always a competition, Erica. Reggie says to “check your ego at the door.” But, damn it — it’s way more fun to bring it into class! Congrats to you ladies for getting the best of us on Sunday. We’ll get our revenge.

    I felt like “Quad-zilla” setting PRs all over the place on front squats. 205# was my previous 1 RM, but I handled that weight for triples on Sunday. Then I found out the weights that Julia and Chris were using, and I felt like a little chicken-legged fool. In all seriousness, it’s great to see people making progress. Sometimes the gains are slow, but they’re real and lasting, and worth the wait.

    I’m excited to apply some of this new-found strength toward a metcon on Tuesday.

  3. Julia says:

    Awesome team workout. I love team workouts. Nice work, Greg and Sara – including: counting for each other, holding down the squat rack for each other, making it through the MI:burpullyupthings together.

    Impressed by: Greg’s smooth-and-controlled kipping pullups, Chris’s monster 300#-plus front squat (+ DU persistence), and Ben’s return to burpees. And, of course, the winning ladies.

    Also, welcome Pamela, Dave, and Tess!

  4. Amelia says:

    Can’t remember the last time I front squated. Happy to do the last set of 3 at 100#. Great to work with Dian, Tess and watch Steph really push herself.

    Fun team workout with Erica and Steph! Steph dominated the double unders of course. Burpulls were challenging but fun and good to focus on executing them properly on the lower rep sets.

  5. Ben says:

    It was good to get some front-squat work done yesterday. Surprise, surprise, this exercise reminded me of my need to work on flexibility in the shoulders and lats.

    Never thought that I would say it, but it was awesome to be able to do burpees yesterday! I partnered with Mark and Sebastian and came in a very close second to the “winning ladies” (whose title will be stripped at the next rematch).

  6. Steph says:

    Did anyone else know that scaling for DUs in the metcon was 3x single skips? The “winning” ladies didn’t and we only did the same number of single skips as DUs. Oops!

    I thought yesterday’s class was great, lots of PRs and good form on the front squats and great energy overall.

    I worked with Dian, Amelia and Tess. Doing the DB RDLs in between sets of front squats made a difference in that I felt that I didn’t get the rest I needed. Was that the point? Or were we supposed to rest after the RDLs instead of going right back to squatting? It was good to get 120 after being at 115 for a few weeks now, but form could’ve been better on that set, especially emphasizing driving the elbows up.

    The team metcon was fun. After the first round, I subbed burpee-to-jumping-pull-ups for burp-ups/burpulls. Also subbed crunches for sit-ups.

    Congrats to all who PRed! A shout-out to Ami who also got 120lbs. I know that’s probably not her PR, but it was the heaviest post-Anthony. Truly amazing!

    Also congrats to Ben on getting back into doing burpees! I know that feeling 😀

  7. Sara says:

    Nice work to all the ladies and gents with the PRs in class yesterday. This seemed to be the first time in months that I front squatted. I went up to 135lbs. I think I could have gone higher but not by much. I used 60lb DBs for the RDLs. After the first set I should have gone up on those. It was just a bit chaotic so I didn’t go get a different set of dumbbells.

    As Julia said I partnered with her and Greg on the metcon. This was a great one. And Julia flew up above the bar on the burpee pulls. She needed both of us holding the rack down for her.

    Nice job to the speedster ladies coming in first. Keep it up.

  8. Steph says:

    Also, it was great to see Chris getting those DUs.

    And thanks to Sara for bringing homemade paleo treats, they were delicious! Share the recipe please!

  9. edgy reggie says:

    I enjoyed yesterday’s class.

    Front squat: Tom A. and I were the only ones on the “six-foot-tall-and-over” squat rack. I worked up to 100 kg (220# for those who use the U.S. measuring system) for two reps. I think that I could have done a third rep at 100 kg; but, my legs were quivering, and I hesitated a little too long (even though Coach was hollering at me for “One more!”). Therefore, I bailed.

    But 100kg x 2 is close to my PR.

    Congratulations to all who achieved a PR on the front squat.

    Thanks to Tom A. for recording my last two sets of squat attempts. It is good to review one’s form in that fashion.

    Met-con: I teamed with Tom A. and Coach Salty (Chris).

    Q: “Did anyone else know that scaling for DUs in the metcon was 3x single skips?”

    A: I did. 🙂 I thought about attempting double-unders, but I didn’t think that my teammates would appreciate finishing this workout on (or near) Christmas Day. 🙂 Thus, I reverted to the 3x-skips scaling and did some double-under work post-class.

    I had a little trouble in finding a rhythm for the “burpulls.” Coach reminded me to keep my shoulders down on the pull-ups, and it’s something that I need to remember in future attempts.

    Seeing Chris and Tom work hard (great job fellas) motivated me to keep going and to finish strong.

    Post-class: Double-under practice (arrgh!…thank you Ben for allowing me to use your rope) and later…yoga with Winnie (who has a new trick bag now that she is an Iyengar-certified instructor).

    Special thanks to Sara for sharing those delicious Paleo treats. 🙂

    @SBV, @Erica: Look in the mirror for your competition. 🙂

  10. edgy reggie says:

    …and I used 85# dumbbells for the Romanian deadlifts (RDLs).

  11. Katie says:

    Oh, wow, I had NO clue about 3x on the single skips!! I thought that part felt a little too easy…

    I struggled through this one due to too much holiday cheer and not enough sleep the night before. I just did the 30# bar for front squats, and that was even difficult for me. I started twisting, so I need to be conscious of that.

    I used 25# DB for the RDLs, which seemed to be easy at the time, but today my glutes and hams are very sore!

    I had the pleasure of working with Tess on the metcon, which went slightly better for me than the front squats. The jump rope part was easy (probably because I only did a third of it…oops). Burp-ups were tough; I need to remember to get my chest all the way to the floor, because now I can! As I’m getting stronger I have to remember that I can do things I couldn’t when I started. My arms, shoulders, and abs are very sore today.

    I wasn’t at my strongest, but at least I made it and I’m sore today! Looking forward to getting back on track on Tuesday.

  12. Sara says:

    Recipe link coming this evening when I get home from work

  13. Sara says:

    I actually thought I heard that jump rope was singles but do doubles if we were struggling too much. I guess I misheard. It was hard to hear all the wagon the other side of the gym.

  14. Sara says:

    I meant singles was Rx but to do doubles if we had them without struggling too much. My group split most of our reps. Doing mostly doubles but when we started failing on every other one we switch to finish off with singles.

  15. Sara says:

    Here is the link to Trident Crossfit’s recipe for the breakfast bars:

    If these were a bit sweet for you, you could try raw honey in place of the agave or reduce the amount of the agave.

  16. Tom Brose says:

    Lots of PRs makes me happy. We haven’t focused on the front squat lately, and even with all the heavy work we do the Front position can be shockingly tough. I think a lot of the success comes from a better understanding of body positioning and core strength developed through all of the hollow work.

    Great to see a lot of people pushing themselves a little past the numbers they felt comfortable with.

    Sebastian, you can still feel good about yourself. Squat envy of Chris and Julia doesn’t mean you’re not still Quadzilla.

    As for the jump rope subs (listen carefully)…there wasn’t one. RX’ed was 50-44-30-20-10 skips, and I left it at that. I didn’t realize that anyone was scaling up except for the Double Under crew.

  17. SaltyHat says:

    Someone better tell that to the moron who wrote the post, because clearly he made a false assumption and… wait a second… aw, crap.

    Anyway, my bad for the false info. And again, awesome work on all the PRs. This turning into a seriously strong crew. I like it.

  18. Greg says:

    I never did burpully thing before so it was a good chance to test my kipping. Thanks to Sara for helping me with the situps. Holding my feet down really made a difference. I did 135lbs for squats. I might have been able to do more. Next time.