Creating FORCE

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Front Squat 1RM

        Compare to March 2011

Bench Press 1RM

        Compare to July 2011

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Fix Your Front Squat

by Lee Boyce, T-Nation

Front squat rack

"Elbows up" is a cue that resounds throughout the movement, and it's especially important in the bottom position, when the bar will want to roll the most.

Front squats will do three things if you do them correctly:

  • Increase depth achieved
  • Improve core strength
  • Activate glutes

When a barbell is loaded on the front of the body, the pelvis gets to tilt backwards somewhat, which makes the hamstrings less taut. This gives them the freedom to allow a greater ROM at the bottom of the lift. This pelvic tilt also allows the lower abs to contribute to the lift more, and takes the hip flexors away from "blocking" the movement.

Bench Press Setup. You need a strong base to press the weight from. Tighten your upper-back. Grip the bar hard: try to break it apart like breaking spaghetti.

  • Grip Width. Too narrow & you'll lose strength. Too wide & the distance the bar travels shortens. Grip width should be about 55-71cm/22-28" depending on your build. Forearms perpendicular to the floor when the bar touches your chest.
  • Gripping the Bar. Secure the bar with your thumbs by rotating your hands in. Put the bar in the palm of your hand, close to your wrist. If you put the bar close to your fingers, you'll get wrist pain.


Correct Bench Grip on the right: bar in hand palm.

  • Tight Upper-back. Squeeze your shoulder-blades before getting on the bench. Keep your shoulder-blades back & down at all times like on the picture below. This gives your body a solid base to press the bar from.

Zhang Guozheng's Back
Tight upper-back, squeezing the shoulder-blades.

  • Chest Up. Don't allow your chest to go flat or shoulders to roll forward. You'll lose upper-back tightness, losing power & increasing risk of shoulder injury. Keep your chest up at all time.
  • Feet. Use a wide foot stance to increase stability on the bench. Feet flat on the floor, weight on the heels, lower leg perpendicular to the floor. This prevents extreme arching of your lower back.

The Bench Press. Remember to keep the tight position during the Bench Press from start to finish. Squeeze the bar, keep your upper-back tight & your chest up. Unrack the weight with straight arms. Bench.

  • Bar to Chest. Touch your chest where your forearms are perpendicular to the floor when looking from the side.
  • Press in a Straight Line. Don't look at the bar. Fix a point at the ceiling. Press the bar in a straight line above your chest, not towards your face. Keep the bar above your elbows during the whole lift.