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View Full Version : Front squat, form breakdown and rep-ranges


Stacey Greenway
09-10-2009, 12:18 PM
I have a question, but first, here are some stats:

Male
30 yrs. old
5 10
204 lbs.
19% bodyfat

My goal is to lift as much weight as possible at the fastest rate possible on my chosen lifts (keeping proficiency high, of course) while maintaining a decent level of GPP.

Currently, Im using the Crossfit Wichita Falls program, which consists of the following:

*All sets are sets across, except where indicated
**Met-cons last no longer than 10 min.

MONDAY
Squat 3 sets x 5 reps
Press 3 sets x 5 reps
Chins 3 max-rep sets

TUESDAY
Power Clean 5 sets of 3 reps

Met-con

WEDNESDAY
Rest day

THURSDAY
Squat 3 x 5
Press OR Bench Press 3 x 5

FRIDAY
Deadlift 1 set of 5 reps

Met-con

In place of back squats, Im using the front squat because of posterior chain dominance (I tend to goodmorning both my high-bar and low-bar squats; I continue to do this despite having reset the weight a number of times to emphasize form).

Right now Im only front squatting 160 lbs. for 5 reps (not impressive, I know). The problem right now is that 5 reps seems like too much for one set before my form starts to break down. I've built up to this weight slowly and carefully by adding 5 pounds a workout, always making sure the lifts feel strong before I move on. But my back goes a little into flexion after the 3rd rep on my first sets now, and this just gets worse as my sets go on. I'm fighting like hell to keep the chest lifted and the elbows up while I lift the chin up slightly to counteract the thoracic rounding.

So I know that in Coach Everetts book he recommends sets of 5 on the front squat in his beginner Olympic routine, while Rippetoe makes the comment in Starting Strength that, due to the lever arm involved in the front squat and the tendency for form to breakdown, sets of 3 might be a better option. While I understand that these recommendations are being made in different contexts, might something like 5 sets of 3 reps for the front squat work better for me? Ill be getting the same amount of volume while reducing fatigue, thus maintaining a higher degree of technical proficiency for the long haul. I also recognize that the training stimulus is different when applying triples vs. fives, but Im more concerned about getting stronger than, strictly speaking, the little bit of hypertrophy associated with the 5-8 repetition end of the spectrum; and besides, Ill still be using 80-85% of my 1rm but for 3 reps.

Anyone else find that sets of 5 are too much and has utilized triples exclusively?

Thanks ahead of time to all.

Emily Mattes
09-10-2009, 06:11 PM
Oly lifters go for singles to triples at their heaviest sets, and they do OK with squatting.

I'd say go ahead and see how the triples work out for you. If you're finding back flexion to be a problem, you may need to work on your upper back strength--maybe add in rows once or twice a week (especially if you are doing chin-ups and not pull-ups).

Greg Everett
09-11-2009, 11:23 AM
So I know that in Coach Everetts book he recommends sets of 5 on the front squat in his beginner Olympic routine, while Rippetoe makes the comment in Starting Strength that, due to the lever arm involved in the front squat and the tendency for form to breakdown, sets of 3 might be a better option.

the beginner program is actually 5 sets of 3 reps. check the notation explanation.

Stacey Greenway
09-11-2009, 11:52 AM
Sorry, just reread pg. 231 and saw that I was in fact wrong. Sorry 'bout that, Coach Everett. I guess my question is moot now. 3 reps it is from now on. And now that I've had more time to think about it, I'm really confident that the only thing that matters is getting adequate volume and adding weight while keeping proficiency high from workout to workout.

Cheers,
Stacey

Garrett Smith
09-11-2009, 01:51 PM
I'm getting good results so far doing 5/3/1 with front squats, making my front squat max 85% of my back squat max...FWIW.