Dave Draper Top Squat Review

Updated June 11, 2020

Dave Draper Top Squat Review

As my mother would say, I’m not a Spring chicken anymore. At 42, I am stronger than I have ever been in my life, but I am also fragile. Though I have remained injury free over the course of my life (from weight training at least), heavy squats leave me with shoulder, brachialis and forearms strains.

This is where Dave Draper’s Top Squat enters the picture.

My squat has been slowly improving the last 2 years. From 2008 to 2010, I have moved up from 400 pounds, to a 500 pound squat. And during this time, my shoulder strains have been getting progressively worse.

I’m fairly safe when squatting under 400 pounds. If I do get an ache or pain, it’s usually minor – and far from being called a strain. But when I push for big boy weight, my shoulder and arm can be out of commission for 2 weeks to a month. That generally means sub-par chest workouts.

Two weeks ago I told myself that enough was enough. I had to find a solution so I could squat pain-free. My choices were a buffalo bar, a cambered bar, or Dave Draper’s Top Squat. Being that the Top Squat was much less expensive (only $149) than purchasing a new barbell, my choice was an easy once. So now that my Top Squat has arrived, I thought I would slap together a review.

Shopping Experience: 9 of 10

My Top Squat took exactly 9 days to arrive. I placed my order on a Saturday, and it arrived on the Monday after the following weekend. My only beef with the process was not knowing if it had been shipped.

Packaging: 10 of 10

Not much to say here. The Top Squat was packaged properly, in a sturdy cardboard box, with proper padding. Even if UPS would have mishandled the box, it still would have arrive in perfect condition.

Feel: 9 of 10

Honestly, I thought the Dave Draper Top Squat was going to feel awkward. I expected it to feel like it was going to fall off my back. It didn’t. I kept adding weight to the bar, and was able to squat 330 pounds without feeling unbalanced or awkward.

Comfort: 7 of 10

There is a comfortable indentation that allows the attachment to rest properly at the base of your neck, which I really like. But the pressure from the padding will take a bit to get used to. After a single squat session my neck and traps feel a bit sore. No big deal though. It wasn’t painful. I just wish it was slightly more comfortable.

Squat: 7 of 10

Here was the true test for me – did Dave Draper’s Top Squat feel like regular deep squats? No.

The Top Squat really hammered my lower back, and to a lesser degree, my abs. Lower back strength is never an issue for me with squats, or even with deadlifts for that matter. But while squatting with the Top Squat, my lower back was worked hard.

If I had to equate the Top Squat to another exercise, it would be the Front Squat. With my arms forward in front of my body, along with the Top Squat handles, I wasn’t able to handle nearly the amount of weight I normally could with squats. My lower back went tight, and multi-rep sets were tough. Even using 225 pounds, my lower back felt tight after 5 reps.

Misc: 5 out of 10

My major problem with the Top Squat is the handles. When you lift the weight, the handles feel slightly wobbly. This is not a safety issue, but merely requires a bit to get used to. I wish the handles felt tight and immovable.

Another issue I have is that Good Mornings felt extremely awkward. But I will give them another try. It may have been operator error.

Verdict: 9 of 10

While Dave Draper’s Top Squat doesn’t exactly feel like doing regular back squats, it does allow me to use heavy weight. The lower back work from using the Top Squat can only strengthen my regular squat and deadlift. I will adapt to the additional lower back work, and hopefully, over time, this will help me squat bigger numbers.

I give Dave Draper’s Top Squat a 9 out of 10. For the price, it gave me something I didn’t expect – a new exercise in my rotation. It also served its intended purpose – saving me from shoulder strains and pains.

If you have a tough time squatting because of shoulder issues, I recommend Dave Draper’s Top Squat.


The author

Steve Shaw
Steve Shaw is the original founder of Muscle and Brawn, an experienced powerlifter with over 31 years experience pumping iron. During competition he’s recorded a 602.5lb squat, 672.5lb deadlift and a 382.5lb bench press.

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