Everything To Know About Front Squats And Bruised Shoulders
Updated June 9th 2021
The front squat is a quite popular exercise and many people do them regularly.
But have you noticed bruises on your shoulder because of this?
Getting bruised shoulders from front squats is a quite common problem.
How The Front Squat Creates Bruised Shoulders?
It can be due to various reasons such as improper posture, incorrect gripping and lifting too much. When you are squatting, the bar should rest on the shelf that you have created by lifting up the delts.
If you are doing front squats for the first time, then it can hurt your shoulders like crazy.
Of course, there are many ways that you can try which will not hurt your shoulder as well as your neck and wrist.
Weight is the main concern
Front squats are an important part of the progress for any Olympic lifters or gym goers who want a big squat.
But one of the most important things that you need to know is that weight can be a major concern when it comes to front squats.
Just as you would decide if you wanted to do lat pulldowns heavy or light.
You will be amazed to see that you can manage only half the weight that you use for regular squats when you perform a front squat for the first time.
So, sometimes reducing the amount of weight you are lifting can avoid injuries while you are doing the front squats.
Also, you need to make sure that your posture is perfect while doing the front squat with the weights.
Excess weight can cause severe health issues such as:
- Shoulder pain
- Bruised shoulder
- Pain in collarbone
- Neck problem
- Lower back issues
To avoid all these problems, you need to make sure that you are using lighter weights, at first, that are ideal for your body structure and stamina.
This can help you avoid feeling dizzy after squats if higher weights force you to create more intracranial and intraabdominal pressure.
Besides that, the positions also play a crucial role.
Like if you had weak wrists using heavy dumbbells— starting off with lighter weights to build up exercise tolerance is one solution.
Ending the collarbone pain
One of the common mistakes that people often do during the front squat is that they rest the bar on their collarbones.
This can cause bruises near the shoulder areas as well as pain in your collarbone.
This is a huge mistake and it can hurt a lot too.
You need to focus on keeping the elbows up so that the weight bar rests right on the anterior deltoid.
The anterior deltoid is the meaty muscle that you have on the front of your shoulder.
Even when you are doing the front squats with dumbbells of lighter weight, you need to hold them just in front of the shoulders in the hammer curl position.
Here the elbows must be pointing down.
When you are lifting heavier dumbbells, make sure to rest the weights on your meat part of the shoulders with your elbows pointing forward.
As you progress in experience and in strength, you will be performing other accessories such as the Bulgarian split squat.
You will need to know which is the better exercise variation between Bulgarian split squat dumbbell vs barbell.
How to do front squat pain-free?
The correct posture, mobility, and positioning of the elbow determine whether or not you can continue to front squat without bruising your shoulders.
The bruises from front squats are common but you need to make sure that you do it correctly to stop the bruising.
Faulty lifting, positioning, and posture can lead to various problems.
So, here is the step-by-step guide which will help you to do the front squat with the weights in the most accurate way without causing any pains.
- Step up the bar
- Get started with the setup
- Positioning is important
- Adjusting your grip
- Completing the front squat
Step #1: Set up the bar
You have to load the bar with the weights but make sure to start with lighter weights.
As mentioned above, the weights can be a major concern.
You need to make sure the weight is perfect for you, not too heavy and not too light.
So, select the proper weight according to your stamina and training experience.
Step #2: Get started
Now, you have to start with the exercise once the bar is completely set.
You have to stand inside the squat rack.
You need to set the bar in a position from where you can lift the bar near your chest height.
The best way to do a front squat is by using the squat rack.
This rack has some notches which will allow you to set your bar back down whenever you want to.
Thus, it will not fall on you and hurt you.
Step #3: Position is important
Now, you have to position yourself under the bar.
Step under the bar and set yourself in the middle of it.
It is important to stand right in the middle to make sure that the weight stays completely balanced.
You need to make sure that the bar is placed on your shoulder muscles properly.
You have a shelf on your front deltoids.
The bar should not be resting on any part of your bone.
Once you have done this, you have to slowly bend down your knees to squat.
You will be able to feel the pressure on your legs.
Remember that positioning is extremely important and you need to make sure that you are getting it properly.
Slightly inaccuracy in the positioning can cause great pain.
Step #4: Adjusting the grip
You can adjust the grip two times while you are performing the front squat.
The first is when you will grab onto the bar and position yourself under the bar.
The second time is when you have stood up and you have already pulled the bar away from the squat rack.
The grip can be of various types and you need to choose the one that suits you perfectly.
It can be a clean grip and cross grip.
These are the two most popular grips that you can choose from.
But it is always recommended to choose the clean grip as this will make it easier for you and provides a more balanced form.
But if you have any wrist limitation or tightness in your forearms and biceps, then cross grip may be a better substitute.
Step #5: Completing the squat
Now, you have to lift the bar off from the rack and place it across your shoulder with a stronger and secure grip.
Then flex your legs and push them upwards.
You need to straighten the spine a bit and then a few steps backward away from the squat rack.
Make sure that you are breathing normally throughout the entire process.
You have to adjust the foot position that you normally do when you are squatting.
Squat down to a bottom position and again come back to the starting position.
You have to repeat this a few times to complete the entire squat set.
And for a very comprehensive video, I will provide a video below for you to watch as well:
Positioning of head and elbows
Do not tilt your head in an awkward direction.
You have to select a spot across the room and focus on that spot.
Your elbows must be at the upright position and remain parallel to the floor.
You will be tempted to drop your elbows when lifting but do not do that for preventing any shoulder injuries and bruises.
The wrong positioning of the elbows results in bruised shoulders.
Just like how a wrong hand position during deadlifts can lead to bruised palms from deadlifts.
So, it is extremely important to keep your heads and elbows in the right positions.
You need to stop dropping them every now and then.
The front squat is an exercise that can provide a high-intensity workout for your lower body.
It can increase the strength of your hamstring as well as the other muscles of the legs.
By how much though?
Research shows that the front squats will have significant activation in your
- anterior deltoids
- serratus anterior
- external obliques
- erector spinae
The conversation only gets interesting if you start to compare exercises— for instance, Romanian deadlifts vs good mornings.
We can then isolate a better movement for you to get stronger in your specific tasks.
The front squat has many benefits and hence you will notice that many people try to include them in their program.
If your routine only has squats and hack squats on the same day, you may want to add in front squats as well.
But they complain about bruised shoulders and neck problems after performing this exercise.
To make sure that you are doing the front squats without hurting your back, you need to make sure that you squat with your elbows and head in the right position.
Should I use padding for a front squat?
It is not recommended to use something, like a towel or padding, to absorb pressure from a front squat.
This will likely not fix the issue and you will end up with extended periods of bruising if you do not fix your rack position.
For a beginner, front squats will be somewhat painful, depending on your mobility and pain tolerance.
This can last anywhere from the first session to a few weeks if you have not been actively improving on your wrist mobility, shoulder mobility, forearm mobility, and wrist strength.
However, it will get better as you continue to do more front squats since the bar will not be creating abnormal pressures to purposely bruise you.
Front Squats Hurt my AC Joint
When racking the front squats too aggressively or incorrectly, some lifters may have the barbell resting and landing on their AC joint.
This is not the correct place to place the barbell and is usually a result of a poor rack position.
Making sure the barbell rests on your deltoids is key to avoiding any AC joint issues.
The AC joint is where your collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point on the shoulder blade (acromion).
If you follow your collarbone up towards your shoulder, there should be a dip before you hit your shoulder.
This is your AC joint.
You might have already got the answer that why you are getting bruised shoulders while performing front squats.
Though sore muscles are common in a front squat workout, bruised areas should not follow.
Also, the front squat mainly involves leg muscles and other lower muscles.
So, getting bruised on the shoulder is not all right. Even if someone has told you to ignore it, do not completely disregard it.
It can get worse and become more painful.
The reason behind getting those bruises is simply your inefficiencies in doing front squats.
So, you need to make sure that you follow the right process and do the exercise properly.
Once you are on the right track, you can:
- Continue to get stronger while cutting
- Build more muscle
- Increase performance in your specific sport
- Improve circulation
The list can go on and on with great benefits.
Get healthy and stay active in order to appreciate and build upon these gains.