The front squat is a lift we rarely — if ever — see tested under “competition” circumstances, but it makes up a big portion of strength training for athletes across disciplines. It’s a pillar of weightlifting, increasingly common for building strength and stability in powerlifting, and also used by strongman competitors to train heavy loading on the chest. Oh, and functional fitness athletes do a ton of them, often really fast and for time. (That sounds exhausting.)
But despite the front squat’s prevalence in training, there’s not really a standard “world record” for the heaviest lift — and people perform the lift differently depending on what they’re training for. Weightlifters take a standard, fingers-or-hands under front rack position, whereas many powerlifters do cross-arm style to support the massive loads.
In fact, there’s only one competition we can find where elite athletes worked to max out their front squats in a competition setting; more on that, along with some other historically heavy lifts caught on video, below. And if we missed anyone, we want to know.
Powerlifter Derek Kendall has the second heaviest front squat on video. Kendall’s lift is 373kg/825lb in cross-arm style, on a powerlifting bar and with several spotters (including Eric Lilliebridge from the back; complain all you want about him touching the bar, it’s still an impressive lift). And please, do NOT question this man’s depth.
That isn’t Derek Kendall’s only verified 800+ pound front squat, as evidenced by this video.
After Kendall, we’re back to champion powerlifter Jezza Uepa with a 360kg/792lb front squat on video.
Australian strongman and sometimes powerlifter Warrick Brant’s 783lb front squat is next up. The video isn’t great quality, but you get the jist.
Next, we get to the weightlifters, and though we have yet to see a video of someone going ABOVE 300kg with a standard front rack grip, we’ve got a snappy 300 posted below. In prep for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Brazilian superheavyweight lifter Fernando Reis goes for what looks like an easy (well, easy for that much weight) 300kg in the training hall.
Next up is Russian giant Chingiz Mogushkov — who hovers close to 200kg in bodyweight at times — with a 295kg front squat on video. Video courtesy of Dmitry Klokov’s YouTube account, himself a pretty accomplished mover of heavy things.
Next up is Ilya Ilyin, who we can see blasting through 290kg in training. Ilyin’s said there’s really not much of a reason to go heavier for him.
Finally, All Things Gym has a great video of the front squat event from 2015 Klokov Power Weekend. Nothing record-shattering compared to the above lifts — the competitors top out around 290kg — but it’s done to at least semi-legit competition standards. We’re excited to see (hopefully) more Klokov Power Weekends in the future to test all those lifts that never get the stage time they deserve.