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Nicholas Burgett 07-13-2006 01:16 PM

I've been doing some reseach on the boards and haven't really seen the answer to my question yet, so I thought I'd throw it out there and see if the vast amount of knowledge contained in this community can help me.

First some background info and data. I'm 36, 6-2, 210, 17%BF. For the last several years I've been doing LSD triathlon and running training almost exclusively.

Before coming to CrossFit, I had never done weighted squats before. By never, I don't mean not for a really long time. I mean never. Ever. In my life.

When looking at my results compared to others though, I've noticed something that stands out in my mind. It's not the amount of weight I can squat relative to others here. I have no ego issues with that (I know I'm weak :happy:). It's the ratio of what I can front squat to what I can back squat. I've seen several threads in the archives about what the ratio should be, and there is some disagreement with the exact numbers, but in general there seems to be concensus that you should be able to back squat more than you can front squat.

When we did the 5x5 back squat WOD at the end of June, my max was 115# for the last set of 5 (told you I'm weak :biggrin:!). Doing the 7x3 front squat WOD a couple of days ago I was able to put up 155# twice before failure on the last set.

My thinking on this when compared to everything I've read on the boards is that this difference is pointing out an imbalance or weakness that I have in my musculature that gets exposed doing back squats, but not when doing front squats (or not as much :wink:). Only I'm not sure where/what it is and what I should do about it if this is the case. I can say that I feel MUCH MORE comfortable doing front squats than doing back squats. The only way I can describe it is that I feel more stable and balanced.

If this is a muscle imbalance issue, short of doing more back squats (which I'm not opposed to, btw), are there other exercises, skill work, etc., that I can and should be doing to help correct this?

Any and all help that y'all can offer will be much appreciated. Seeking to understand...

Lincoln Brigham 07-13-2006 02:56 PM

There could be a difference in depth between the two. Cutting your front squat short, for example, could easily account for the increase. Coming up on your toes in the back squat but not the front squat could also be a big difference.

Jeremiah Hurley 07-13-2006 04:09 PM

what is your back position like in each of the movments? improper back position could be holding your back squat weight down

Jerry Hill 07-13-2006 05:35 PM

A video of the two would be golden.

How is your OHS?

If you are more comfortable front squatting, I'd say stick with it and heck with the back squat.

As for your question:
With your fitness background I would guess your weakness is the posterior chain. Most likely you are quad dominant thus some success in the front squat.

Good luck!

Nicholas Burgett 07-13-2006 06:13 PM

Thanks for the responses.

Lincoln, I've been using a 12" block to mark my bottom for overhead, back, and front squats. Perception wise, even though I'm going to the same depth, the back squats feel like they are much deeper to me. Based on some of your posts (and others) that I've read on squat form I've been focusing on pushing through my heels and making sure I track my knees over my feet. I don't think I'm coming up on my toes during the back squat, but I'll watch out for that next time.

Jeremiah, I think I definitely exhibit what coach refers to as an immature squat. I know that I feel VERY bent over when doing the back squat and I don't feel that way doing the front squat. When I failed on the last rep of the 7x3 FS WOD, it was because I couldn't get out of the hole, not falling forward.

Jerry, I'll work on getting a video of both and posting them. I've got the same experience with the other lifts that I do with squats. That is to say only what I've done during CF. Below are my max's (or close to them):

OHS = 55# for 3 reps (same 12" depth)
Deadlift = 215# 1RM (but I think now that I've got the groove on this lift I can go heavier)
Push Jerk = 155# 1RM
Snatch = Not sure, but I did Isabel with only the 45# bar because I was trying to get to full squat depth.
Clean/C&J = Again, not sure, but I did Grace with 115# a few weeks ago.

I was assuming that my posterior chain is weak, but I was thinking that weakness would exhibit itself in both types of the squat. I hadn't thought of the front squat being more quad dominant, but that would definitely go aways toward explaining the difference.

Craig Van De Walker 07-13-2006 07:55 PM

The long and short is that you need to increase strength on all of your lower body lifts
I am not even sure I would really worry about the ratio of your strength at this point. The big point you made is that you have never done this kind of work before. The great thing about that is that in two years you will literally be a new man. If you were front squatting 225 and back squating 115 I would be all over addressing the imbalance but with the numbers you are puting up compared to your BW there is probably a huge comfort/coordination issue that needs be corrected.

It will be corrected if you put in 50-100 lower body weight sessions. Be patient and "show up" to do your workouts. I am not implying you won't just saying you need to get some experience lifting.

You may want to look up ME black box workouts on the message board.

Good luck, and hang in there. Craig

Keith Wittenstein 07-14-2006 05:27 AM

I agree with Craig. It's a little too soon to worry about the ratios. Keep plugging away. I would recommend "Starting Strength" by Mark Ripetoe. Awesome book that will help you with the slow lifts. It added pounds immediately to my back squat.

I also agree on trying the Maximum Effort Black Box. Add more heavy lifting days to your program and it will pay off. Don't be discouraged. Just work the back squat, deadlift, press, front squat, overhead squat all the time. Watch videos, read books/articles and get some footage of yourself for review.

Also do a set of tabata squats once a week.


(Message edited by musashi on July 14, 2006)

Nicholas Burgett 07-14-2006 08:41 AM

Thanks guys. "Starting Strength" is now on its way courtesy of Amazon. I'll look into the ME Black Box approach as I've seen a number of threads on it.

You guys are absolutely correct about being patient and "showing up". In retrospect, given that I've never done lifting like this before, I guess it stands to reason that at least one of these lifts would "feel more natural" (or maybe less unnatural :wink:) than others. I suppose that in my case it's the front squat

Keith, one question about the tabata squats (he asked with a cringe :angry:): would you suggest standard tabata, or B2B tabata squats?

Thanks again guys for the help and encouragement.

Keith Wittenstein 07-15-2006 03:38 PM

Personally, I find it hard enough to make myself do a round of tabata squats. I can't motivate myself to do B2B unless someone else is pushing me.

Perhaps alternate 1 rest at the top and the next rest at the bottom if you really want to punish yourself.

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