The front squat is dynamite for strengthening your core, quads, and upper back, all of which has direct carryover to improving your back squat as well — along with almost every other exercise.
This is something the 8-time USA Powerlifting (USAPL) National Champion and 6-time International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Championships medalist Mike Tuchscherer seems to know well. He routinely posts videos of himself performing extremely heavy front squats on his Instagram page.
Most recently he shared a monstrous 256kg/565lb front squat on a safety bar, which he followed up with a 238kg/525lb double — both personal records. Check them out below:
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Damn fine day of front squatting. 565 for a PR single and 525 for a PR double. ***** Warm ups were off, but I'm finding that it usually isn't predictive of much, especially in the Front Squat. I brought more energy to the top set, but still managed to get really light headed on the walk out. I stayed patient and managed to grab a pretty solid rep. This is the heaviest single I've ever done. I can smell the 600. Just a race now to see if I can grab it before we move. The e1RM was slightly down from last week and if I look at my data, I can see that I actually feel better and volume is a little lower. So I don't think this is fatigue. That's encouraging though since it suggests I can push it this week and still have a better performance next week.
[Related: Learn the importance of variation and four benefits of using a safety bar.]
“This is the heaviest single I’ve ever done. I can smell the 600.”
Both of these PRs come right on the heels of Tuchscherer’s front squat PR of 252kg/555lb that he posted only a week prior:
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Kinda pulled a dumb decision on the top single. Warm ups were good, but nothing incredible. The last two weeks, 550×1 has been an overshoot. I loaded 555 anyway. Normally this is a bad choice. You should take the weights you've earned. If you were in this situation and asked, I'd tell you to take 550 and smoke it. Well, I seem to have gotten away with it though as I took the 555 and tacked it solidly. Now you may wonder if a 5lb difference here (1%) is really that noticeable. For me, and for Front Squat… yes. I tend to go from quick/solid reps to ugly reps rather quickly. Rep work today was another all-time PR building off of last week. I felt like I was fighting a little dip and maybe rotation on the right side — like my right side was collapsing slightly. This is also the side where my mid-back gets sore when I push the volume.
Although this lift was successful, Tuchscherer went against his own advice by putting a load on the bar —252kg/555lb — that might have ended up too heavy for him, since he’d struggled in the last two weeks to squat 249kg/550lb.
“Normally this is a bad choice. You should take the weights you’ve earned. If you were in this situation and asked, I’d tell you to take 550 and smoke it.”
But hey, Mike Tuchscherer may be made of different materials than the average person — the guy’s a powerlifting machine.
According to Open Powerlifting, Tuchscherer made his competitive powerlifting debut in 2003 at the age of 18 at the USAPL’s Maryland state championships, where he placed second. Since then he has competed an additional thirty-two times and has fifteen first place finishes. (He is known to eat an entire loaf of bread’s worth of peanut butter and jellies during competition.)
His heaviest back squat in competition was 410kg/904lb at the IPF 2009 World Games in Taiwan, where he claimed gold. Tuchscherer has gone on to found Reactive Training Systems (RTS), a company that has helped over a dozen athletes set IPF world records.
We’re looking forward to that 600-pound front squat he’s cooking up.
Feature image from Mike Tuchscherer’s Instagram page: @miketuchscherer