What is “low bar”?
During low bar squats, the bar is positioned on your middle traps and secured by the contracted rear deltoids. Since the bar is lower on your back, you have to lean over more to remain balanced. Even at the top, low bar squatters are at an angle.
Why would anybody low bar squat?
There are three main reasons to low bar squat:
1. To lift more weight
Powerlifters gave birth to this monster in order to squat heavier weights.
Powerlifting is a sport that originated from Olympic weightlifting. Weightlifters who were old and/or slow started messing around with the so called odd lifts. At first, powerlifters were squatting high bar but quickly figured out that when they put the bar low on the back, it’s possible to squat more weight because the exercise becomes glute dominant, and the range of motion is greatly reduced.
Another incentive to squat low bar if you are a powerlifter is to take the most out of your squat suit which facilitates hip extension. With a squat suit on, it’s easier to have an even more hip dominant squat.
2. To build a big butt
If you want your butt to explode into something that barely fits through the door, the best way is to do low bar squats.
3. To make sure you are DTFP (Doing the Fucking Program) of Mark Rippetoe.
Rippetoe is a very stubborn self-righteous individual. He always finds a way to justify his ways even when they are 100% wrong.
He believes that he is teaching the ultimate squat, but in reality, those are cheated good mornings.
Honestly, high bar squats are much better for the noobs that go to StartingStrength.com.
Quality vs. Quantity
The low bar squat reveals that people always sacrifice quality for quantity. People only care about numbers and that’s it. Style is an afterthought.
During an ideal powerlifting squat, the shins remain as vertical as possible to the ground. This makes the squat a good morning. A good example would be Layne Norton. His knees move forward very little. His squat is mostly glutes, lower back and hamstrings.
Another problematic factor with low bar squats is depth. Most powerlifters don’t even reach parallel, but since they are strong, few people have the courage to say that the emperor has no clothes.
In the video below, you see Steve Goggins squat heavy weights. He does not even break parallel because his set-up is bad. Honestly, that’s a bad looking squat, but because he is so strong and has been doing it for years he gets away with it.
In the next video, you can see a real natural squat with a barbell.
This is the best way to squat with a barbell when it comes to back squats. If you can squat this way, you are building your entire leg evenly while developing mobility. This is the real “athletic squat”. Forget about Rippetoe’s look down bullshit. This is how people were meant to squat with a barbell on their backs.
Some may find that the high bar is greatly facilitated by weightlifting shoes. The shoes allow you to stay even more upright and can compensate for the lack of ankle, hamstring and spinal mobility.
Here’s how a perfect squat with Oly shoes looks like:
Notice that the Oly shoes actually reduce the depth a little bit. The higher the heel of the shoes, the less deep the squat looks. However, those squats are still full range. It’s also worth noting that those guys don’t have a whole army of men around them and a
It’s also worth noting that Oly lifters don’t have a whole army of men around them and a monolift. That’s because they lift “raw” and do real squats. None of those cheated good mornings.
Most powerlifters don’t squat. They do a cheated good morning to amplify their numbers.
In addition, powerlifters abuse the monolift and squat with an ultra-wide stance that would be impossible if you have to “walk out” the barbell.
As a bonus, powerlifters don’t go all the way down either. Breaking parallel is extremely rare these days. Most squats are high even from the front, and if a squat is high from the front view, it’s even higher from the side. Yet nobody cares.
If you take a powerlifter who low bar squats 800lbs with a monolift, wide stance, knee wraps, squat suit and a belt without breaking parallel, he may be pinned by a 450lbs high bar squat. That’s how “strong” they are.
Powerlifting was a cool sport back in the day, but it got worse over time.
Like I said, people only care about numbers – they don’t care about style.
The best squatters in the world are Oly lifters. They do deep high bar squats because they don’t benefit from partial low bar nonsense. The point is to become strong at the bottom while remaining as upright as possible.
When it comes to the average weekend warriors, there are two reasons to squat – to develop strong legs and to become stronger overall. The high bar does that a million times better than the low bar. Also, the high bar is less stressful on your shoulders and hips. However, it puts more stress on the knees.
I know that many people will hate this post, but deep down inside even Rippetoe’s followers know it’s all true.
The high bar and the front squat are the real squats. The low bar is nothing more than a cheated good morning making you look stronger than you actually are. Don’t waste your time with it.