Originally Posted by 5kgLifter
I agree, Rippetoe also insists the elbows are raised at the back in order to shove the barbell into the back which is also very predominant in a lot of lifters. It wasn't until this past few months that I saw that positioning to be incorrect but Rippetoe advocates it in his DVDs, and is forever seen pulling people's elbows up and back at the start of their squat set-up.
I personally think it's a pretty complex topic. It's hard to force the elbows back and up without getting more forward lean. But it can be done. A lot of novices will fly their elbows up, keep their upper backs too loose and inadvertently lean more forward. The result is more of a good morning type squat.
All I want to see in a squat are tight elbows that move very little. This generally indicates that the upper back is staying tight. If you watch videos of high rep sets, you'll generally notice these 2 trends on plenty of them:
1) Reps start to get less upright over time.
2) Elbows slowly creep higher and higher on each rep.
A lifter has to concentrate on keeping the upper back tight, and part of this is locking the elbows tight and in place. Things have to stay tight. When they aren't form goes to heck.
Tight elbows/back are certainly not a cure all, but they have to be a focus.