Front Squats are notoriously difficult to perform. Not because the movement pattern itself is inherently that challenging, it's just a squat, but because most people can't actually suffer through holding the bar in place for the duration of a 30-60 second set. It's often uncomfortably, unstable and downright painful.
So how do we overcome those barriers in a quick and easy way?
The solution: The Strap Hold Position!
Typical setups for Front Squats are the Rack position (looping your fingers under the bar), the Cross-Arm position (forming a shelf for the bar to sit by creating an X with your forearms and touching your opposite front delt) and the Zombie position (exactly what it sounds like; arms straight out in front of you).
But unless you're hyper-mobile and have the will-power of a monk, these will almost always be suboptimal and force you to end sets before your legs are actually approaching failure. We want to reduce the prerequisites for performing the Front Squat and enable more effective use of this variation in a hypertrophy or strength focused program.
Here is how we're going to setup the Strap Hold:
1) Loop your straps around the bar and bring them in to just outside shoulder width
2) Hold onto each while you get under the bar. You want to make sure it's sitting in the divot created by your front delts and slightly pressing into your throat. Pro tip: it's not going to feel good no matter what.
3) As you unrack and walkout the bar, use your hands to "steer" the straps and dictate the positioning of the bar. Remember, the bar will follow your elbows and your elbows will follow your hands in this case.
4) During the squat, maintain the same relationship of hands/elbows/shoulders to control the bar and prevent it from slipping out of it's divot.
As a coach, I have often avoided prescribing the Front Squat in favor of other squat variations due to the all of the limitations of a traditional setup. However, shifting to the Strap Hold has been a game-changer and is now the only setup that I recommend.