Front Squat has the potential to be one of the
most effective thigh-training exercises a person
can do. But what stops most people from doing
it? The answer: holding the bar can be just plain
"Sting Ray" from Advanced Fitness, Inc.,
maker of the excellent "Manta Ray" for
the squat, is designed to address this problem.
attaching two specially-shaped polyurethane polymer
forms to the bar, the Sting Ray is reported to
distribute the load of the bar over a greater
surface area, dramatically decreasing the uncomfortbale
pressure on the body during the front squat movement.
The question is, does the Sting Ray effectively
achieve this goal?
answer this question, we need to look at the mechanics
and set-up of the front squat movement and how
the Sting Ray is designed to work to improve the
a nutshell, a front squat is basically done exactly
the same as a back squat, the major difference
being that the bar is held across the front of
your body rather than the back. This changes not
only the balance of the movement, but also where
the tension is placed on your muscles.
front squat is generally used to more effectively
target the quadriceps. Since the weight is held
at the front of your body, you are able to maintain
a more vertical torso position. This allows more
tension to be placed on the quads rather than
the glutes and lower back.
exercise requires strong abdominals and shoulders
in order to keep the barbell properly racked across
the front of the shoulders ("racked"
in this case means how the bar is held in place
on your shoulders), but it is extremely effective
in working the quadriceps.
are two methods of holding the bar on your shoulders
first method is the "Clean" style rack,
which looks a lot like the bottom position of
a barbell shoulder press but with a narrow grip
and the elbows pointed directly forward.
method gives a wider "base" on the bar
but is very difficult for those lacking elbow,
wrist and shoulder flexibility or for anyone who
has any trouble with those joints. A trainer with
large arms may have trouble with this style of
rack as well, as the muscle mass will prevent
the necessary range of flexibility.
Front Squat Racking Style
- This is
the "Clean" racking style where
you hold the bar as though you are doing
a narrow-grip shoulder press.
- The barbell
is cradled in your hands and your elbows
- This style
can be hard on the shoulder, elbow and
second method is the "Crossed-Arms"
style rack. With this method, the bar is placed
across the front shoulder muscles (anterior deltoids),
the elbows are pointed straight forward, the forearms
are crossed over directly in front and the hands
are on the bar. If you raise your arms out in
front of you and touch your right hand to your
left shoulder and your left hand to your right
shoulder, you'll see how this position looks.
crossed-arm grip is easier on the joints of the
upper body but leaves you with somewhat less control
over the bar. The bar also has a greater tendency
to roll back down into the throat, which is never
a good thing!
"Crossed-Arms" Front Squat Racking
is the "Crossed-Arms" racking
style. It's easier on your joints but
is somewhat less stable.
- The bar
more easily rolls back into your throat
and can dig into your shoulders.
Also, and this is
a problem with both racking styles, when the
bar rests directly on the collar bones, it creates
pressure on the rib cage, which can cause you
to run out of breath before your legs are thoroughly
How The Sting Ray Works:
Sting Ray directly addresses the problems associated
with racking the bar across your shoulders.
it utilizes the crossed-arm style of racking in
order to decrease stress on the joints of the
arms while also decreasing and eliminating the
problems you'll find with the crossed-arm style.
unique shape allows it to rest comfortably on
the shoulders while spreading the load of the
bar over a far greater surface area. This increased
distribution of weight ensures that the bar doesn't
dig into the shoulders or create unnecessary pressure
on the rib cage while lifting.
clamping directly onto the bar, the Sting Ray
also completely eliminates any chance of the bar
rolling either forward and down or backward into
your throat. This feature also increases the amount
of control you have over the bar while doing the
movement, allowing for greater stability of the
Is The Sting Ray Effective For
answer is "yes." The Sting Ray accomplishes
its goal of making the front squat a more comfortable
and productive exercise. You'll still have to
do the work but the Sting Ray will allow you to
focus on working the muscles you're targeting
and not on the pain of holding the bar across
your shoulders. This makes it a very effective
my own training, I've actually worked at front
squats and tried to find a way to do them comfortably
without much success. The first time I used the
Sting Ray, however, I found I was able to do the
exercise with better form and focus on working
the legs rather than on how much the bar was digging
into my shoulders.
the front squat exercise in your leg workouts
will help you to build a more balanced physique
both in terms of muscle development and strength.
While the back squat strongly affects the posterior
muscles of your body, the front squat strongly
affects the muscles on the front side of your
body. Your abs will get such a great workout,
you won't even need to work them directly after
doing front squats!
you work out in a home gym and don't have access
to a squat rack but do have access to a bench
press bench, the front squat is ideal for you.
Normally, to do the back squat, you would have
to shoulder press the bar over your head and into
position on your back, do your set, then lift
it back up and over. This not only limits the
amount of weight you can use but decreases the
safety of the exercise.
the Sting Ray, you can set your bar in your bench
press racks, sit in front of it then get the bar
into position for a front squat. You'll get the
benefits of a squatting exercise without the inconvenience,
weight limits, or safety issues of lifting the
front squat is also very useful for those who
have knee problems but want to work their thighs.
Other exercises that focus on the quads, such
as sissy squats, lunges and leg extensions, can
be quite hard on the knees. The front squat is
quite comfortable on the knees and should pose
The Sting Ray does have its drawbacks but they
are minimal compared to its usefulness.
the Sting Ray comes in two separate pieces (they
are attached with a connective tie), proper placement
on the bar can be tricky. This is one of the drawbacks
of the Manta Ray as well but having two separate
pieces can make it a little harder to get right.
using the Sting Ray, the pieces must not only
be placed so that they are even on the bar from
side-to-side but also rotationally (meaning that
one piece can't be placed further around on the
bar than the other). To illustrate this, hold
your hands out in front then pretend like you're
wringing out a towel. See how one hand is rotated
down and one is rotated up? This can happen when
you place the Sting Ray on the bar. This is easily
remedied by eyeballing the pieces and/or setting
your shoulders under it and rotating one piece
until it's even with the other.
the plus side, having the two separate pieces
does allow for more adjustability with regards
to body structure, i.e. a person with wider shoulders
or narrower shoulders can place the Sting Ray
wider out or closer in on the bar.
way to deal with where to set the Sting Ray is
to experiment and find the proper placement for
your body structure. Once you've got it, use the
same bar every time and note the overlap of the
Sting Ray pieces over the knurled (rough) portion
of the bar compared to the smooth center area.
You can use finger-widths on the bar to be your
guide, e.g. one finger of overlap, two fingers,
Sting Ray Placement
demonstrate placement of the Sting Ray
on the shoulders during the Front Squat
movement. Elbows should be help up as
high as possible during the movement.
shows proper placement of the Sting Ray
on the bar.
Note how the
pieces are set at the same distance from
the knurled (rough) surfaces on either side
of the center smooth area.
what can happen if the pieces of the Sting
Ray are placed incorrectly on the bar in
the rotational aspect.
may be even in terms of spacing but must
also be even in terms of their orientation
on the bar.
the Sting Ray a useful piece of equipment for
making the Front Squat a more effective and comfortable
exercise to perform? Absolutely. If you are interested
in performing the front squat and focusing on
your quadriceps with a squatting movement, I highly
recommend investing in a Sting Ray. Let me put
it this way...if you're not doing the front squat,
you should. It's an excellent exercise. And if
you're doing the front squat, you should use a
Click here to learn more and
order your Sting Ray
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