Last Update On January 9, 2012
The front squat is quite often ignored because the fame of its big brother(the back squat) is way too big. The front squat can be a very valuable exercise for quads, glutes and upper back strength. However it's not a good idea to perform high reps per set.
Let's see why.
The Front Squat Requires A Lot Of Upper Back Strength
Holding a heavy bar on your front deltoids requires a lot of upper back strength. The second your back gets tired you can drop the bar. That makes long sets of front squats very hard to do with meaningful weight and your legs may end up failing to get enough stimulation. This way the front squat becomes more of a back builder. Depending on your goals this may be good but let's face it - you will most likely want to hit your quadriceps with the front squat rather than your back.
Clean grip front squat
The Clean Grip Can Place A Lot Of Stress On You Wrists
If you use clean grip for your front squat the wrists will end up getting a lot of beating if you perform high reps and lack the flexibility to hold the bar properly. This can be a problem because during a long high rep set the rack position tends to become harder and harder to maintain and you may end up placing a lot of stress on your wrists flexors.
The Front Squat Makes Breathing Harder
The back squat allows you to take a small break at the top. There is not such thing during front squats. At the top your back has to work like crazy and the heavy bar is constantly depressing your throat which makes breathing harder. When was the last time you heard the term - “breathing front squats”? I guess never. It just doesn't work unless you use a light weight.
"Ok...bro. But what's the solution then?"
Triples. Three reps are low enough to avoid most of the problems you see above. However triples are considered Olympic weightlifting or strength trainingnprogramming designed to improve your 1RM (one repetition maximum). If your goal is hypertrophy you have to follow a different approach - the rest/pause principle. It goes like this.
Set the power/squat rack according to your preferences for front squats. Use a weight around 80-85% of your 1RM. You DON'T have to test your 1 RM. Just choose a weight you can handle for a comfortable triple.
Perform 3 reps. Rack the weight. Rest 10-25 seconds and perform another 3 reps. Rack the weight. Rest another 10-30 seconds and perform another 3 reps. Repeat 1-2 times more if you can.
That way you achieve two things - You take all the benefits from the front squat while avoiding form breakdown. If you perform 5 sets of 3 heavy reps that's 15 quality reps. There is no doubt that if you try to go for 15 straight reps in a set with the same weight your position will become worse during the set.
Why take the risk when you can have it all - heavy weight, hypertrophy rep range/volume, solid form and bigger quads, glutes and upper back thanks to the rest/pause technique?
High Rep Front Squats?
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