Why Do Coaches Cue High Elbows?

May 14, 2024

 by Thomas Sampson

Front squats are a staple exercise in strength training and are highly effective for targeting the quadriceps, glutes, and core muscles. One key aspect of proper front squat form is keeping the elbows up throughout the movement. But why is this so important?

  1. Maintains Upright Torso: When you keep your elbows up in front squats, it helps to maintain an upright torso position. This alignment is crucial for distributing the load evenly across your lower body muscles and preventing excessive strain on the lower back. By keeping the torso upright, you engage the quadriceps and glutes more effectively, maximizing the benefits of the exercise.

  2. Improves Stability: Elbows-up positioning also enhances stability during front squats. By keeping the elbows high, you create a "shelf" with your deltoids for the barbell to rest on. This stable platform allows you to control the weight more efficiently and reduces the risk of the barbell slipping forward or losing balance during the squat movement. Improved stability enables you to lift heavier weights safely and with greater confidence.

  3. Facilitates Proper Bar Path: Another benefit of keeping the elbows up is that it helps to maintain a straight bar path throughout the squatting motion. When your elbows drop, the barbell tends to shift forward, placing excessive stress on the wrists and shoulders and compromising your form. By contrast, keeping the elbows high encourages a more vertical bar path, allowing you to execute the squat with proper biomechanics and optimal muscle engagement.

  4. Enhances Front Rack Mobility: Keeping the elbows up in front squats also contributes to improved front rack mobility over time. Consistently practicing this positioning helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles and connective tissues involved in shoulder and wrist mobility. As a result, you may experience greater flexibility and comfort in the front rack position, enabling you to perform front squats more comfortably and efficiently.

In conclusion, maintaining proper elbow positioning by keeping them up during front squats is essential for optimizing your squat form, stability, and muscle engagement. By prioritizing this key aspect of front squat technique, you can reap the full benefits of the exercise while minimizing the risk of injury and achieving better overall performance in your strength training routine.

Coach Tom CFL-3, USAW-2, Sports Nutritionist