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How Much Weight Should I Use For Front Squats?
I read your articles on Bodybuilding.com called with interest. I've got a couple of questions on front squats that I hoped you might be able to answer.
For background, I've been lifting pretty steadily for about 5 years now (4-5 days per week) and consider myself "advanced" in an overall sense. I'm always looking for new things to try - the "Sting Ray" product for front squats has enabled me to handle a lot more weight than before.
As I make front squats a regular part of the routine, about how much weight should I expect to be able to handle as a percentage of what I can handle with regular squats?
Second, when I use heavier weight I have trouble dropping my elbows as you described in the article. That, in turn, limits how deep I am able to go. Do you have any rules of thumb of how to keep the elbows up at the low end of the rep under heavy load?
It is hard to say an exact ratio of front to back squats, however, many experts promote the idea of approximately 85%. The Sting Ray is a nice product, but I also like to teach clients how to use a clean grip. While many people will not begin with the proper flexibility in the wrist, in a short amount of time it can be developed. The reason I choose to also teach the clean grip is so when the client is capable of performing cleans they have the ability to perform it well.
If your elbows are beginning to drop then there could be two reasons. The first being the most common, lack of strength through the trunk. Because the placement of the load there tends to be more stress on the abdominals than in the back squat. Therefore, you may have to increase your abdominal strength through using more low rep higher load methods. The other possibility is a potential flexibility issue. This tends to be rarely the case, but can relate in the latissimus dorsi and hips. If you are able to achieve the depth with lighter weights it will tend to be an issue of strength.
The answer is very simple. Don't use a weight that does not allow you to maintain proper technique. In addition, take the time to increase your abdominal strength. This should be done incorporating various methods and exercises such as windmills, various sit-ups, and I love barbell rollouts.