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Old 09-19-2012, 12:04 AM   #1
Ruan Keyser
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Improving the FS drastically

Hi Everyone,

I have finally decided to post something on this forum, hoping to grow part of this community in the coming years.

I started Crossfit about 3 years ago, did it for a year and then stopped. Eventually started again this year, around April. Can't say how much I've missed it. At the moment it's one of the most entertaining aspects in my life.

Anyways, the one and only problem I have at the moment is my front squats/squat clean. For some reason I just suck at it. I enjoy the back squat more and am able to do more as well. What I really want to know is, what are the best assistance workouts for front squats/squat cleans? I'm looking to focus on only this for the next few weeks to improve my fs/clean.

22 y, 98kg, 1.86m

RM's:
Power clean = 110kg
Squat clean = 80kg
Front squat = 80kg
Deadlift = 180kg
PP = 100kg

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:15 AM   #2
Ruan Keyser
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

Just an FYI, I would say my technique is about 90% correct. I get under the bar quickly without raising the bar too high (about just below my chest). The issue is sitting in the squat position with 90kg's, I just can't get up. My legs suck!
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Old 09-19-2012, 06:27 AM   #3
Struan Potter
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

The best assistance for FS and cleans is to FS and clean more often.

EDIT: Pulling the bar to just above your chest is too high for the clean. The highest you need to pull the bar to is to about 3 or 4 inches above the bottom of your FS. The lower your bottom position is and the faster you are getting under, the more you'll clean.

Last edited by Struan Potter : 09-19-2012 at 06:29 AM.
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Old 09-19-2012, 06:29 AM   #4
Ruan Keyser
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

I was expecting an answer like this, thought I'd just push my luck.

Thanks anyway
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:55 AM   #5
Andrew N. Casey
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

what program are you currently following? what do your workouts look like?
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:58 AM   #6
John C Corona
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

I like 1-1/4 front squats: where you [decend all the way down (a$$ to grass), come up 1/4 the way, then go back down, then back up] = 1 rep. I also like pause front squats, where you decend down, all the way again, and hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds, then come back up. In case of pauses, I've seen a bounce out of the hole, as well as I've seen no bounce out of the hole. Try both.

I also like High Bar back squats, but unsure if it's better than just pure front squatting for transfer over, more for just leg power I think. Just pepper in some high bar in case you are a low bar back squatter.
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Old 09-19-2012, 05:01 PM   #7
Steve M Herman
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

Ruan:

About the cleans... One thing i notice a lot of CF athletes in my gym do is stand up with too much of a deadlift position at the beginning of the lift. Then there is a hitch in their movement and then the pull.

IMO they are losing a lot of their upward power that their legs are generating from the ground. The clean needs to be real fluid to get the maximum out of it. That deadlift position most people get in can also throw off the straight upward momentum that is so important.

Obviously i don't know if this is a problem of yours, but like i said i see it often in my gym.

Relating this to your question...

For practice dont power clean light weights, but instead focus on getting under the bar. Even if you pull it high and catch it high go into a full front squat. Sit down there at the bottom for a bit and hang out (you decide what amount of time is comfortable). Get used to having weight sitting in the full squat. I think a lot of people have a mental block at a certain weight and just cant get under the bar because of fear. So get comfortable sitting in the squat.

Sitting in the squat will help your flexibility too. You need a lot of flexibilty for the Oly lifts. I am still super flexible in my squat position 20 years after Oly competing because of all the full squat cleans. Having all that weight pushing down on you is better than partner stretches.

Practicing your squat cleans will obviously also help your front squat. A long time ago a coach i had would have us do front racked lunges, front racked 24" box 1-legged step ups, and a billion clean and jerks. I think we did 135# but at the time we were competing at a national level, you'd have to scale appropriately.

(By the way i always thought the 1-legged step ups onto a 24"box was crazy and possibly dangerous, but it helped identify if one leg was weaker than the other. At heavy weight it is important to be symmetrical. You want everything in as perfect a straight up and down line as possible. If you are pushing with one leg harder than the other you can lose balance or possibly injure yourself. You'll definitely feel the burn with this exercise.)

I believe front squats utilize your quads more than back squats so any other ancillary exercise focusing on the quads will be helpful.

I hope this helps.
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Old 09-19-2012, 06:44 PM   #8
David Meverden
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

I donít think you need to front squat more. With your lifts as out of whack as they are I'm willing to bet that you have a specific, identifiable, weakness. Most of your body is plenty strong so to bring this lift into line you need to find the localized part(s) that ISN'T strong, and focus on that.

Why do I think this? Because I was in the same boat. After more than 6 months of no progress on my front squat I adjusted my training and 2 months later hit a big 25, should have been 35, lb all time front squat PR. It went up more than any other lift of mine in that time despite doing almost NO front squatting (I did hang squat cleans twice and front squatted once in the two months leading up to that PR). The difference was working the weak point an experienced coach pointed out to me.

More detail, since my above account sounds sketchy: From December through April my front squat with a belt was around 300 lbs (hit 305 in Feb, missed 300 in April) and felt terrible. Squat cleans felt awful. I back squatted 385-395 lbs and felt like I should be better at front squats. Nothing improved until I visited Coach Rick Scarpullaís gym and he started helping me a lot more with programming and my lifts. He immediately identified that I needed way more core work. WAY more. The torso collapsing, back rounding (like I knew happened most in my front squats and squat cleans) was an ab problem he said. So I started programming ab and/or core stability work 4 days/week. With better programming all lifts were going up now in 5 or 10# jumps until I maxed front squats. Was blown away at an EASY 330, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2n6q...ature=youtu.be (WFS). Iím confident I would have gotten 340 if I hadnít jumped right to 350. Suddenly staying upright wasn't very hard and I didn't collapse. The lift didn't feel terrible. My gains on front squat were basically triple my other lower body gains, despite very little front squatting because, unlike my backsquat or deadlift, my front squat had a main identifiable weakness that, once attacked, made a HUGE difference.

Your power clean and deadlift show us that MOST of you is plenty strong enough to front squat a lot more. Get us a video and see if we can find the few parts that arenít. If we can properly identify that weakness and you hit it HARD your lift should come in line and a lot faster than if you just try to front squat your way out of this problem.
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Old 09-19-2012, 10:49 PM   #9
Ruan Keyser
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

I freaking love this community!

Getting so much insight and different pov's really gives me a lot of different approaches.

@Andrew - We mostly do short explosive workouts (not sure if this is called metcon, still very new to the crossfit lingo) like for instance, our workout tuesday was 1min on, 1min off of 30 k/b swings doing 7 rounds. And then 5 rounds of 5 deadlifts @120kg and 10 burpees for time. Very short but intensive workouts.

@John - Thanks John, sounds like a very interesting method I would really consider trying.

@Steve - Thanks Steve, I will try out the one leg exercise to check if one of my legs could be the weak point.

@David - David, I'm leaning more to your point as this really does seem likely. I've always hated front squats and loved back squats and never knew why. Because I can back squat more does this not automatically mean that it is not a leg problem? All my lifts/presses are way better compared to my clean and front squat, which obviously led me to think that something is wrong. I think it might be a core issue. The reason why I think so is that the front squat is REALLY uncomfortable and I never had a strong core, can't even do a decent L-situp. What core exercise did you do? I will check if I can get a video posted this weekend of both my squat and clean.

Really thanks guys, Crossfit would be nothing without this amazing community.

Last edited by Ruan Keyser : 09-19-2012 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 09-19-2012, 11:10 PM   #10
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: Improving the FS drastically

Your power clean is 30 kilos more than your front squat. Your deadlift is 100 kilos more than your front squat. You're not even close to front squatting bodyweight. These are wacked ratios.

Your front squat is broken.

Your front squat is not "90% correct". I'd guess you usually squat high and have trouble keeping an upright position, which would explain why you get stuck in the bottom position of a clean. My other guess is that your deadlifts are done almost entirely as a back lift. I'd guess a strong back that takes over for weak legs whenever it can. But you need to figure that out for yourself. You need to identify the problem and fix this.
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