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How to Rack the Barbell for a Front Squat

Properly racking the barbell ensures safe and effective form

Date June 02, 2021
Author Patrick Wong
Tags Fitness

A common form mistake when it comes to barbell front squatting is positioning the barbell too far forward or letting your elbows droop. Both of these mistakes can mean you'll lose the barbell when descending in the squat or it can mean the weight of the barbell will bring you too far forward not allowing you to anchor your heels to the ground to execute a proper (and safe) rep.

Since many in our community seemed to have questions about what to do when it comes to safely racking their barbell for the front squat (especially if you don't have a rack), we consulted Tempo's Head of Exercise Science, Dr. Joel French for some tips for when you want to tackle some front squats during your home workout.

Choose the Right Grip

If you’re not using a rack, make sure you have proper clean form so you can safely get the barbell from the ground to your shoulders.

Once you get the bar up, you can have either a clean grip or a cross grip on the bar.

For the clean grip, aim to have your hands a little wider than shoulder width and keep your elbows high and triceps parallel to the floor. This will keep the bar stable across your shoulders and clavicles and use them as a shelf. If the bar begins to slide forward or downward, lift your elbows.

For the cross grip, cross your hands on the barbell so that your arms create an ‘X’ on top of the bar, in front of your neck. Again, keep your elbows high to keep the bar stable across your shoulders and clavicles. As with the clean grip, if the bar begins to slide forward or downward, elevate your elbows. Please note that Coach Melissa is doing a side lunge above using the cross grip.

The front squat can really test your shoulder, lat, and wrist mobility. While you work on developing that mobility, the cross grip may be the best choice to ensure a more stable lifting position.

If you’re still working on being strong enough to clean the bar, consider getting a rack.

Why Front Squats Matter

Besides being an exercise that recruits and strengthens your legs, including your quads and glutes, front squats are also great for improving your posture and mobility.

The front squat forces you to engage your core and upper back to ensure that the barbell remains in a stable and safe position for the entire lift. Strengthening the core and back can help make sure you're sitting up straight with impeccable posture even without a heavy barbell in your hands.

Front squats also force you to test your mobility in several joints — as mentioned your wrists and shoulders will be engaged throughout the entire lift, and at the bottom of a front squat, your ankles and hips will also be employed. Doing a proper front squat can help improve strength and mobility at the same time (and help identify any areas of your body lacking mobility and flexibility).

Why do these benefits matter? Stronger legs will literally carry you through daily life, whether it's walking uphill or picking up something heavy. More mobile hips and ankles mean a lower risk of injury if you happen to trip while walking up that hill or fall while carrying that something heavy.

Author Patrick Wong
Tags Fitness

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