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.
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.