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The Best Front Squat WODs for Electrifying Gains

Improve your strength and mental toughness with these WODs.

Add these Front Squat WODs into your training if you want to speed up your mental and physical gains.

Firstly, learn how to lift off and rack the bar properly with these excellent tips from Squat University.

The Lift Off

“The first step in performing a perfect front squat begins at the rack. To start, the bar needs to be set at shoulder height. Inexperienced athletes will often place the bar too high in the rack.

This requires the athlete to over-extend in order to un-rack the bar. While many can get away with this early on, it can be dangerous when attempting to squat a heavy weight.

The next step is to position the bar properly on your chest. Start by gripping the bar at shoulder width. For weightlifters and CrossFit athletes, this will also be the same grip you use to perform the barbell clean movement.

From this position we want to pull ourselves under the bar while at the same time pushing our chest through the ceiling. The elbows should be lifted together to the highest possible position

If done correctly this will create a ‘shelf’ for the bar to sit comfortably on top of the shoulders and chest. Doing so will also increase the rigidity of your upper back.

This will help you maintain an upright trunk position throughout the entire lift. Leaving the elbows in low position can lead to a rounded upper back.

This greatly increases the odds of dropping the weight as it gets heavy. You will also place your body at risk for injury.

Mobility issues at the shoulder and/or thoracic spine (upper back) may cause the lifter to not be able to reach the high elbow position. It’s acceptable to leave the fingers in contact with the bar and have an open palm to reach the high elbow position.”

WOD 1 – Bear Complex

5 Rounds for Load

Complete 7 Unbroken Sets of this Barbell complex:

  • 1 Power Clean
  • 1 Front Squat
  • 1 Push Press
  • 1 Back Squat
  • 1 Push Press

How do you perform the “Bear Complex” workout?

The five movements known as the “Bear Complex” comprise one repetition.

Complete the complex seven times, unbroken (without letting go of the bar or resting it on the ground) to complete one round.

Complete five unbroken rounds, increasing the weight and resting as needed between each round to complete the workout.

Rest as needed between rounds. You may not change the load mid-round.

How do you score the “Bear Complex” workout?

Score is the max weight used for your fifth unbroken round.

What is a good score for the “Bear Complex” workout?

– Beginner: Men 75/Women 55 lb

– Intermediate: Men 115/Women 85 lb

– Advanced: Men 155/Women 105 lb

– Elite: Men 225+/Women 155+ lb

What are the movement standards for the “Bear Complex” workout?

A “strict” Bear Complex requires each movement to be done individually as written.

A CrossFit-style Bear Complex allows an athlete to link movements together, such that one rep may look like a Squat Clean Thruster (when you go from the squat clean directly into the thruster with no pause) then a Back Squat Thruster (when you go from the back squat into the thruster with no pause).

Complete unbroken reps of the following complex: Clean (any style), Front Squat (Squat Cleans are acceptable), Shoulder to Overhead from the front rack (any style- including thruster-jerks), Back Squat, and Shoulder to Overhead from the back rack (any style).

What are the tips and strategy to use for the “Bear Complex” workout?

Big jumps are for chumps! Make conservative increases in load from round to round to avoid early failure.

How do you scale the “Bear Complex” workout?

The “Bear Complex” is a very fatiguing CrossFit benchmark workout. If you’re new to these barbell movements, it’s best to stay with one load for the entirety of the workout (rather than increase weight for each set).

In order to get the endurance benefits from this workout, you need to complete unbroken sets; so pick a load that allows you to achieve that goal.


Go up in weight (conservatively) in rounds three and five. Skip the load increase in rounds two and four.


Choose a light load and stick with that weight through all five rounds.

WOD 2 – Incredible Hulk

AMRAP in 20 minutes

  • 5 Deadlifts (115/75 lb)
  • 5 Hang Power Cleans (115/75 lb)
  • 5 Front Squats (115/75 lb)
  • 5 Push Press (115/75 lb)
  • 5 Back Squat (115/75 lb)

On a 20-minute clock, as many rounds and repetitions as possible (“AMRAP”) perform the prescribed work in the order written.

Score is the total number of rounds and repetitions completed before the 20-minute clock stops.

WOD 3 – Macho Man

EMOM for as Long as Possible

  • 3 Power Cleans (185/135 lb)
  • 3 Front Squats (185/135 lb)
  • 3 Jerks (185/135 lb)

Each minute on the minute (EMOM), starting at the top of the minute, complete one round of 3 Power Cleans, 3 Front Squats and 3 Jerks. Rest the remainder of the minute. Take the barbell from the ground. Do not use a rack.

Score is the total number of rounds completed before becoming unable to complete a round prior the start of the next minute.

Good Score for “Macho Man”

– Beginner: 7-9 rounds

– Intermediate: 10-12 rounds

– Advanced: 13-15 rounds

– Elite: 16+ rounds

Tips and Strategy

To get a good score in this WOD, go as unbroken as possible for as long as possible: 3 unbroken Power Cleans, directly into 3 unbroken Front Squats, directly into 3 unbroken Jerks.

Anytime you put down the barbell during the 9 repetitions, you have to complete at least 1 unnecessary rep. This causes more muscular fatigue and takes away more of your (already limited) time. Go unbroken to find success in “Macho Man.”

Intended Stimulus

“Macho Man” should feel moderately heavy right from the beginning. It should not feel light. The first 5-7 minutes of this WOD should feel pretty doable but after minute 7, the muscular fatigue and breathlessness should be real.

At the end of “Macho Man,” you should feel almost as much mental exhaustion as you do physical: a WOD that requires such a fierce race against the clock will challenge your mental fortitude.

Scaling Options

Choose a load where you can complete all movements in 30 seconds or less for the first several minutes. The load should feel moderately heavy. If you’re brand new to these movements, scale the complexity (see: Beginner B) of the movements so you can get the metabolic benefits of a loaded barbell.

Beginner A

  • 3 Power Cleans (135/95 lb)
  • 3 Front Squats (135/95 lb)
  • 3 Jerks (135/95 lb)

Beginner B

  • 3 Deadlifts (95/65 lb)
  • 3 Front Squats (95/65 lb)*
  • 3 Push Presses (95/65 lb)*

*For the Beginner B option, set up 2 barbells. Take the Front Squats and Push Presses from a rack.

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