Leaning forward on the Front Squat is common. It’s also bad:
- You stress your spine more. More leaning forward is more torque.
- You can injure your wrists. Heavy weight on fully flexed wrists hurts.
- You might lose the bar. The weight can drop of your shoulders.
You should therefore avoid leaning forward on the Front Squat. Keep your torso as erect as possible. The following tips will help you avoid leaning forward.
Bar Close To Throat. Front Squats pull you forward because of the front bar placement. This makes you lean forward. The further the bar from your torso, the greater the forward pull.
The solution is to put the bar close to your throat, behind your clavicles. This feels uncomfortable at first. Breathing problems or clavicles that hurt are common. Start light, focus on your technique, progress slowly. You’ll adapt.
Elbows Up. Put your left hand on your right shoulder. Do it. Now lift your right elbow up. What do you feel? Your shoulder muscles contracts. Put your elbows down again and it relaxes.
The bar will roll off your shoulders if your elbows are down. Your flexed wrists will end up carrying the weight, which hurts. You’ll lean forward. You’ll feel the bar dropping of your shoulders.
But if you place the bar close to your throat with your elbows up, it can’t move. Elbows up, pointing to each-others, upper-arms parallel with the floor. The bar stays where it is and it’s much easier to keep your torso erect.
Chest Up. Lift your chest up & your back goes erect. Put your chest down & there’s more chance your lower back rounds, resulting in forward leaning. Again you want your torso to be erect. Keep your chest up.
Push From the Heels. The center of gravity moves forward if your heels come off the floor. You can never end up on your toes. You’ll lose balance, lean forward & will have to step forward to avoid falling.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Video of myself doing a Power Clean some months ago. The catching position is the same as with a Front Squat. You can see that I step forward to avoid falling. Why? I didn’t push from the heels.
Strengthen Your Abs. Your lower back keeps your torso erect from the back. What keeps your torso erect from the front? Your abs. Leaning forward can be a sign you have weak abs.
One exercise I did in the past, but totally neglected until recently are Turkish Get Ups. This exercise is performed by holding a weight overhead while moving in different positions. Here’s a video of the lift explaining the technique.
The weight tries to bend your torso during Turkish Get Ups. Your abs try to prevent this, keeping your torso erect. This is similar to the forward pull during Front Squats. But Turkish Get-ups are harder on your torso than Front Squats.
Maximum Attempts. Technique often goes loose when going for personal records. Front Squats are no different. While you should strive for perfect technique, it’s very hard to achieve when doing heavy singles.
If you lean forward during a heavy Front Squat, so be it. Just don’t make it a habit. Strive for perfect technique when lifting non maximal weights. It’s better on your back & wrists.