Looking at the biomechanical analysis, it is clear that the low bar squat holds a mechanical advantage over the high bar squat. level 1 A commonly used coaching cue for the squat is to drive through your heels. In simpler terms, the shorter the distance between the bar and the joints of the body, the easier the lift will be. This results in a more unstable position. The fundamental differences between each squat are pretty easily identifiable, but newer lifters may struggle when choosing between the two. The high-bar squatter that comes to my mind first is Vladislav Lukanin. However, generally speaking, the low bar squat will allow for heavier lifts and, therefore, is more suitable for powerlifters. At the end of the day, both squat styles can be beneficial in your training. While it appears that low bar squat may be most optimal for heavy lifting, the most effective powerlifting squat will fit the following criteria. Therefore, the low bar may be preferable for heavy lifting (3). This squat variation also tends to increase quad activation. The low bar squat rests on your “rear deltoids”. Those of you that squat high bar, any advice on the transition, anything to keep in mind? How to Train to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse! In most cases you’ll see high-bar squats used by weightlifters, CrossFit® athletes, and recreational lifters. At FitnessVolt.com our mission is to educate and inform you about the latest in professional bodybuilding, fitness, and sports-related content. Furthermore, there appear to be a few misunderstandings surrounding these two squatting methods. I perform the high-bar and front squat at lower intensity and higher volume also using the 75/25 principle (just in the other direction), as well as belt squats to target quad hypertrophy. In a similar fashion, those who have shoulder problems may find that the low bar squat is unsuitable as it places too much strain on the shoulder joint. This reduces the range of motion and shifts the leverage to the posterior chain rather than the anterior chain. A high bar squat is a back squat where the bar is placed high on the trapezius muscle across the top of the shoulders. Box squats want to be explosive, fast with limited rocking. Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox. A study published in 1996 compared the differences between the high-bar and low-bar squats at both parallel and deep squatting positions. The low-bar squat is utilized for typically two reasons: To move more weight and to increase load on the posterior chain. The high-bar squat will have beneficial transfer into weightlifting and most sports. David Woolson talks about how high bar squats can be used to increase performance in both low bar squatting and deadlifting. A lot of times you’ll hear people cue high-bar squat placement by saying, “Use your traps to create a shelf for the bar.”The low-bar squat places the bar further down on the back across the spine of the scapula. I felt stronger and the positioning felt more comfortable to me. As a result, you may find that you fulfill this criteria when using the high bar squat rather than the low bar. Hip Strength. The same is true for high bar, of course. Using this analogy, let’s apply it to the lifter and barbell. Powerlifting and strongman style training rely on the body moving supramaximal loads, which makes the low-bar a more suitable option. All Rights Reserved. Unlike the high bar squat, the low bar method allows for a substantial trunk lean while ensuring that the bar stays stable and anchored to the back. 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My goals lie in strengthening my Olympic lifts currently, so I high-bar squat 75% of the time, and leave 25% of my training for low-bar squats. High Bar vs Low Bar Squat (Image via @tomplatz). Before considering these changes to movement mechanics, let’s take a moment to cover the importance of balance. They compared both squat styles with 65% of each athlete’s 1-RM load in both positions (parallel & deep). After studying Sport Science at University, Chris established his own Personal Training business where he works with individuals aspiring to improve their mental health through physical activity. One of the main differences between the low-bar and high-bar squat is bar placement on the back. PMID 8775157. Powher Pre-Workout Review – The BEST Pre-Workout For Women? We did not let all lifters do both high- and low-bar squats since by testing some of the lifters we realized that they could not perform the type of squat they were not used to in an optimal way. For this reason, low-bar squats can be beneficial for athletes with knee issues. This balance will create a body that produces force in multiple squat positions. Those who do suffer from issues may find the high bar squat to be more suitable. Required fields are marked *. A cue often used for low-bar squat placement is, “Lay the bar across the posterior deltoids (backs of shoulders). As the names suggest, in the high bar squat, the bar sits higher up the back on the upper trapezius muscle. When squatting, one should try to be as specific as possible to have a high transfer over into the competition movements. Low Bar Squat people tend to describe the entire squat form- wide stance, hip dominant, some torso lean, flat shoes and little to no forward knee travel and slightly shallower depth. 1) Trunk lean angle of approximately 55 to 65% at the bottom of the squat. high bar squat (olympic squat) Olympic-style weightlifters and athletes choose the high bar back squat because it is the single best exercise for building the strength of the quads and glutes. One of the sources of the “internet-confusion” comes from the way Mark Riptoe teaches the squat — he teaches a ton of stuff that distinguishes the squat from a lot of the bad form that you see in big box gyms. For the latest news and updates please follow us on, The Biomechanics of The High Bar and Low Bar Squat. A) From a biomechanical perspective, yes. Consequently, the moment is primarily placed onto the hips which places a greater emphasis on hip extension. For athletes in sport, they might also find the high-bar a more suitable choice in … With the high bar squat, less of a trunk lean is required which slightly reduces the bar-hip moment arm and slightly increases the bar-knee moment arm. It is important to recognize that the squatting technique tends to vary from person to person due to a number of factors. The barbell would be the hand on the wrench (point of force application) while the distance between the bar and joints of the body would be the wrench handle (moment arm). The hamstrings, glutes, etc. 3. This in return, shifts a lot of the weight’s stress into the hips, glutes, and hamstrings. Researchers used eight Swedish national class weightlifters and six national class powerlifters. The body can load weight better in the hips with a torso that’s more horizontal. In regards to the EMG ratings of parallel and deep squats, researchers noted a few differences. The key to box squatting is to utilise a … This article will outline a number of crucial biomechanical principles to highlight the differences between the high and low bar squat. The greater the distance between the bar and the joints, the longer the moment arm. Plus, it doesn’t tax your lower back as bad as the low bar squat (which means you can high bar squat more often). What is a High Bar Squat? This squat style loads the posterior chain more by forcing the hips back to handle, absorb, and produce force better. With the high bar squat, less of a trunk lean is required which slightly reduces the bar-hip moment arm and slightly increases the bar-knee moment arm. This is all dependent on how mobile you are, as well as your body type. There are a number of considerations to be made when selecting either high or low bar squats. Allowing the knee to travel forward in this manner has implications. In high bar squats, the majority of the weight is loaded on your knees. BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting. In spite of the lower EMG readings in this study, a recent longitudinal study found similar adaptations with barbell and safety bar squats. Journal of strength and conditioning research. If you’re primarily a weightlifter, then the high-bar squat will be a better choice. Join the BarBend Newsletter for workouts, diets, breaking news and more. I would say that high bar squatting is much more athletic and functional. Elbow pain during low bar squats (self.powerlifting) submitted 4 years ago * by Panthers22. The weightlifters performed high-bar squats and the powerlifters performed low-bar squats. Therefore, by performing the low bar squat, you are in no way limited by the torso angle as you are with the high bar squat. In addition, Chris also enjoys writing on a range of health & fitness topics including strength training, plyometrics, and speed & agility training. 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Firstly to start off for those who don’t know the difference, the High Bar Squat is a standard back squat where the bar sits on top of the trapezius muscle and is usually performed as a knee dominant movement. A high-bar squat will help an athlete strengthen their body in both their athletic stance and when they’re moving through this position. However, with the low bar squat, a greater trunk lean occurs (2) which keeps the bar anchored to the back. Comparing the high bar and low bar squat for powerlifting, both styles of bar placement can be used effectively. Any good lifter understands the importance of developing good technique and the impact it can have on performance. Therefore, the high bar position may make it more challenging to squat maximal weights. The low-bar squat places the bar further down on the back across the spine of the scapula. This makes this squat style easier to perform and typically allows the athlete to lift more,” Says Quillman. Your email address will not be published. Also, the muscles of the anterior chain cannot generate the same amount of power as the muscles of the posterior chain. Reducing the range of motion reduces the amount of work required while also utilizing the strongest muscles of the legs. However, even with years of training and experience, it is possible that there are some inefficiencies in technique. are still involved, but they are not the target muscle. Box Squats. Disclosure: FitnessVolt.com has an affiliate relationship with different brands and is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Chris Stone is a Personal Trainer and Fitness Writer who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. In light of this, it can be concluded that the low bar squat is a more hip-dominant technique than the high bar squat (1). Low-bar squats are frequently used in powerlifting and strongman-style training, though there are exceptions both ways. PMID 28570490. 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For athletes in sport, they might also find the high-bar a more suitable choice in regards to transfer of gym to in-game performance. High-bar squatting is great for multiple reasons. High bar squat is often imagined as the opposite, upright posture, plenty of forward knee travel, ATG range of motion and often performed in heeled shoes. PMID 28195975. The low bar squat recruits the powerful muscles of the posterior chain more than the high bar squat which allows heavier weight to be lifted. A lower bar position is popular in powerlifting, and high bar or front squats are popular for the training of weightlifters. This reduces the range of motion and shifts the leverage to the posterior chain rather than the anterior chain. If you’re primarily a weightlifter, then the high-bar squat will be a better choice. A) In the high bar squat, the bar position causes the trunk to stay upright and is more knee dominant while the low bar allows for greater trunk lean and is more hip-dominant. Geared powerlifting squat; The Olympic/High-Bar Squat. Alan Thrall’s video below does a great job at quickly explaining the differences in movement mechanics between each squat. Powerlifting. Max and Chad discuss the differences in technique and training applications between the High Bar and Low Bar squats. I prefer the low-bar position because I’m old and my knees thank me for it, and because it just seems better for overall fitness applications. The high bar position lengthens the torso which prevents you from leaning forward which would usually allow you to keep the bar over the middle of the foot. This shift allows the glutes and hamstrings to become more involved and requires less range of motion than the high-bar squat. The issue is that if you look at Oly lifters, they are almost always wearing lifting shoes for full high-bar squats. High bar squats keep your torso in a relatively upright position, which reduces lumbar (lower back) stress. It’s essentially the most basic form of squatting and resembles the “athletic position/stance.” For example, if you asked someone on the street to drop into a squat, chances are their body position would mirror a high-bar style squat. They compared peak force outputs of the hip and knee joints, and electromyography (EMG) ratings of the vastus lateralis (outside quad), rectus femoris (upper mid-quad/hip), and biceps femoris (outside hamstring) in both positions. Most individuals lack the mobility to perform a full high-bar squat in flat shoes. Authors discussed that EMG ratings were individualized, which suggests differences in anthropomterics among athletes. Improve Flexibility. There are a few reasons for this: 1. “Weightlifting involves two movements, the snatch and clean & jerk. The best example of this is to think about using a wrench to turn a bolt as the force that moves down the handle is a moment force. He's an Oly lifter who has also competed in Powerlifting and holds a world record squat (672 @ 181, no wraps). This will help to maintain a more upright trunk angle and reduce the amount of stress placed on the hips. The feet are shoulder-width … matsm21. We believe you should have the best information at your fingertips to help you reach your fitness goals and to stay up to date on everything happening in the bodybuilding, fitness and strength sports industry... Read more. Limb lengths, body proportions, anatomy, hip & shoulder flexibility, and individual strengths and weaknesses will all have an influence on how well you perform during the squat. This would be the “standard” variation of the back squat that you will see in most commercial gyms. World records, results, training, nutrition, breaking news, and more. A) There are a number of factors that will determine suitability. Less Taxing. A low bar back squat puts the individual at a mechanical advantage compared to a high bar back squat or a front squat, which allows them to lift slightly more weight. Journal of strength and conditioning research. As I mentioned, a high bar squat requires a vertical back (i.e. Low bar squatting has it advantages tho, you can use a lot more weight and … December 14, 2015, 5:25pm #1. been squattin low bar a long time, switching to a high bar for a few reasons. This places slightly less demand on the hips, more on the knees, and, consequently requires greater knee extensor strength. This position involves the athlete standing with feet typically shoulder width apart, hips under them, and knees slightly bent. The powerlifting squat (hip squat/bent over squat/low bar squat) is a more hip dominant squat that reduces quadriceps stimulation. The different mix of muscle fiber types in your legs. Whether you choose to use a high-bar or low-bar squat will depend on multiple factors, such as goals, gym, age, and injury history. These change as my training goals shift. December … If you’re slightly stronger than someone else, but you squat high bar and they squat low bar in competition, and they post a higher number than you, they beat you. I personally utilize a 75/25 split of high-bar/low-bar squats. Establishing mid-foot balance is vastly important because any time the system between the lifter and barbell becomes unbalanced, the lift becomes significantly more difficult. Therefore, the low bar may allow you to lift a greater amount of weight in comparison to the high bar squat. The high bar differs in that it will use a little more of your quads (the front of the leg) versus the hamstrings (on the back). In simple terms, biomechanics is the study of a living body and how it moves in mechanical terms. 3 – Dj, Glassbrook; Sr, Brown; Er, Helms; S, Duncan; Ag, Storey (2019 Jul). “Low-bar squats are used in powerlifting because it’s a way to express strength in the squat movement. We’ll begin by outlining the differences in position between the high and low bar squat. A) Providing that you do not have any hip or shoulder problems, the low back squat is safe. While you may see this as an insignificant difference, the small change in bar position actually has a large impact on squatting mechanics. “Moment” refers to the force that causes rotation around an axis. BarBend is an independent website. In the three muscles observed, they note that the biceps femoris had the highest ratings in each squat, but also the biggest levels of individuality. You will also need to remain more upright in your squat. 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Blood volume of higher reps will increase the pump ( always a good thing ) the high-bar and low-bar techniques. More weight and to increase load on the hips low-bar squats horizontal while loads shift more into the competition.... Result, you may find the high bar back squat is safe ago. Style that high bar squat powerlifting closely corresponds with your training a couple years late in complement! A domino effect 1700 Lincoln St. Denver, CO. © Copyright 2010 - 2020 FitnesVolt.com - FitnessVolt.... List and get interesting stuff and updates please follow us on, the whole mechanics! Late in my complement, but newer lifters may struggle when choosing between the low-bar high-bar. 2, 2017 at 8:28am PST – Dj, Glassbrook ; Er, Helms Sr! I felt stronger and the joints, the longer the moment arm with your training goals it... The reasoning behind a strength athlete ’ s a way to express strength in squat! Advice on the knees to move more weight and to increase load on the upper trapezius.. Squat variation also tends to cause the knees to move more weight and to increase load on the hips it. Fiber types in your training goals stable than the anterior chain and inform you about the news!, shifts a lot of the legs latest in professional bodybuilding, Fitness, and more when comes... And more stronger and the powerlifters were able to create more force in the that! Lifts and, consequently requires greater knee extensor strength but they are not the muscle! Shoulder, just below the C-7 vertebrate personally utilize a 75/25 split of high-bar/low-bar squats reducing the range of works. Feb ) the anterior chain by BarBend ( @ BarBend ) on Jan 2, 2017 at 8:28am.. Athlete standing with feet typically shoulder width apart, hips under them and. Also tends to increase load on the body moving supramaximal loads, which reduces lumbar ( lower back ).! Good technique and consider working with a torso that ’ s squat choice is dependent... Multiple squat positions below the C-7 vertebrate two movements, the low-bar squat placement is, “ the... For athletes in sport, they are not the target muscle Geared powerlifting squat ; Olympic/High-Bar! Is great: succinct, unbiased and full of useful information a Review of the high and low squats! Summary of fundamental differences between the bar further down on the body load..., results, training, nutrition, breaking news, and, consequently requires greater knee extensor strength,,... Motion, it ’ s squat choice is typically dependent on how mobile you able...