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bamazav 01-20-2011 07:35 PM

Squats - High versus Low bar
Which are you using?

High Bar Back Squats
Low Bar Back Squats

I have been doing high bar squats since I started. Wondering if it would be worth my time to begin working on low bar squats.

BendtheBar 01-20-2011 08:01 PM


Originally Posted by bamazav (Post 109098)
Which are you using?

High Bar Back Squats
Low Bar Back Squats

I have been doing high bar squats since I started. Wondering if it would be worth my time to begin working on low bar squats.

I did high bars for about 20 years. In fact, I did them too high. I didn't know any better. Call it pre-internet ignorance.

I moved to low, low bar squats in 2007, but because of my bulk (fat and muscle size), my shoulders took a beating - as in shoulder strains that hindered bench and pressing work. I read and read and read that this would improve with time and stretching, but it didn't. It got far worse.

For at least 6 month I had to search for a way to squat...I tried Draper's Top Squat, and that didn't work well. I finally purchased a buffalo bar and that solved my issues.

My opinion is that bar position should first be based on shoulders and how easy it is to squat relative to your bulk. If getting your arms back into position is a strain, keep it high. If not, move it down.

I squat with the bar under my traps and it works great and feels great. Jslep (Jason from the forum) can vouch for me - with the bar in this position my form is dead nuts; straight up and down flawlessly like a piston.

While I have read all the information and arguments, squatting comes down to one thing for me - making it feel as natural as possible. I am not talking about how the bar feels on your back here. I am talking about the descent. A squat is a natural lift. It should feel natural. I want a trainee to use a bar position that allows the squat to feel natural to them.

Too many times we land lock ourselves with form tweaks, and actually remove the natural feel from a lift, turning it into a clunky and unnatural, and as a result a somewhat dangerous lift. Now I am not advocating recklessness in any way. What I am advocating is listening to your body when dialing in form and trying new things.

Lastly, small tweaks in squat form can have a huge impact on soreness and can be dangerous. Be careful! When I tried to widen my stance too quickly (using heavy weight) I strained my hamstrings week in and week out. If you do try something new, for Heaven's sake don't do it with monster weight.

Use a moderate weight, find a natural feel, and slowly build weight and allow your body to adjust.

I hope I have made some sense here. I have said a lot, but not given much direction. The squat should feel natural. Keep the bar off your neck and spine. As long as the descent and ascent feel natural, you are good to go.

Try lowering the bar below the traps ONLY if it doesn't mess up your shoulders and ONLY with a moderate weight.

bamazav 01-20-2011 08:25 PM

I have been doing high bar because that is where the bar just naturally fell. My form is good. The few times I have tried low bar it just felt uncomfortable and difficult to hold. You made some great points which help much. I was just thinking about my training and progress and wondering about bar position. Guess the concern was would the high bar hold me back as the weights go up. As you know, the difficulty with training alone is that you have no one to check or help with form. Thus the question.

BendtheBar 01-20-2011 08:28 PM

Can you video yourself squatting at all?

bamazav 01-20-2011 08:35 PM


Originally Posted by BendtheBar (Post 109122)
Can you video yourself squatting at all?

I will give a shot at it on Monday, when I have more time. It is my off day so I don't have to push through my session.

BendtheBar 01-20-2011 08:37 PM

I would try them low and see how they feel. As long as they feel good you should be fine.

CoopDawg 01-20-2011 08:46 PM

im not sur which i do, may be high i have a groove the bar lays in/on

Carl1174 01-21-2011 09:56 AM

My are fairly high, but it just feels right there. i have tried lowering the bar, but i have shoulder issues that made it uncomfortable. I think as long as you are squatting with good form then bar placement is more of an individual thing. The main thing is to have the bar travelling straght up and down. because I place the bar quite high it means i have a relitively upright torso, but Like i said as long as the bar is going straight up and down (and i had a video checked by BtB to make sure) then its all good.


Trevor Ross 01-27-2011 06:00 PM

Depends on your goals and your stance. High bar close stance is more quad dominant. Low bar wide stance is more posterior chain dominant. I use high bar shoulder width stance.

sneezingstardust 01-27-2011 07:17 PM

I've been "medium bar" squatting ever since I picked up a barbell. I'm trying to train myself to arch more and stay more upright, so I'm sticking with a higher bar placement until I get that down, as lower bar placement causes you to lean even more.

Whatever works for you! There are plenty of OLY lifters with HUGE squat numbers that squat high bar.

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