The CrossFit front squat WOD is just 15 reps long—5 sets of 3 and you’re done for the day. Simple, right? But, as with every other brutal CrossFit workout that looks easy on paper, that should be your first clue that you’re in serious trouble.

The first few times you do front squats, you may notice that your upper and middle back are sore for days. That’s because those portions of your posterior chain take a beating as they work overtime to keep your torso vertical throughout the range of motion.

You may also notice that your wrists are sore from supporting the barbell in the “rack position,” which finds you resting the bar on your front deltoids, with your elbows up. In this position, a lot of guys put only their fingertips on the bar for added balance, but it still requires a good degree of wrist flexibility. These aches and pains are normal, so don’t be alarmed by the soreness you experience the first few times you do the 5×3 front squat workout with very heavy weight.

Regarding technique: When you take the bar out of the rack, your elbows should be pointing forward and the barbell should be sitting on the meaty part of your front delts. Your chin should be neutral to pointing slightly downward. Don’t think that your eyes need to look skyward in order for your upper back to be vertical. Instead, think about coming out of the bottom of the squat leading with your chest. Drive the knees out on the way down and up.

The WOD itself is simple, but it’s meant to test athletes of all strengths and abilities. You can choose to do all your sets at the same weight, or you can vary the weight from set to set depending on how each one feels. If your form starts to break down—your chest begins to fall forward, your elbows drop, your knees collapse inward—adjust the weight till you regain it. Try to establish a strong set of 3 reps without sacrificing form. Rest periods can vary.

The Front Squat WOD is:


Front Squat*                5/3

*As heavy as possible

Rob Orlando’s heaviest-ever weight used in the front squat WOD is 375 pounds.