Hey, Athletes! Where do you put your bar when you squat? Listen to this week’s episode to hear about High-Bar vs. Low-Bar Back Squat!
Episode 14 of Ask Me Anything is Up!
High-Bar vs. Low-Bar Back Squat
This week’s question comes from Trampis. He asked for pros and cons on high-bar vs. low-bar back squat. Jerred and Joe go over their own opinions and then dive into two studies in order to give some concrete evidence on both of the squats!
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If you want to go a little bit deeper on this episode, here are some links for you:
- High- And Low-Bar Squatting Techniques During Weight-Training
- The High-Bar and Low-Bar Back-Squats: A Biomechanical Analysis
- A Review of the Biomechanical Differences Between the High-Bar and Low-Bar Back-Squat
Related Resources at End of Three Fitness:
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To becoming better!
AMA 14: High-Bar vs. Low-Bar Back Squat
[00:00:00] Jerred Moon: Welcome to garage gym athlete. Ask me anything. It’s pretty simple. I’ll be answering questions from the thousands of athletes that follow our daily programming. If you have a question or topic you want submitted, go to Verragio mathy.com/ama let’s get started.
All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the garage gym athlete podcasts. This, ask me anything. Me and Jo are back. I like doing it this way. Maybe it’s just the new norm. I dunno. It works well the first time. Yeah, it was great. And if you are watching, you got to see like all the crazy contrast, which probably is still not fixed.
I think it’s changing as we speak. Uh, you have to, you have to watch YouTube to know we’re talking about, but if you’re listening, thank you for listening. We’re going to get into this week a question of the week, and it’s actually from Trampas. And so let me, uh, pull it up. [00:01:00] Pros and cons of low bar verse high bar, back squat.
He said, I know your preference is high bar because of safety, but with spotter arms slash safety equipment, is there anything wrong with the low bar? Anything else to consider? There is a lot more to consider. Uh, my. My predominant reason for always wanting to go high bar isn’t just safety. I don’t know if it’s necessarily that much safer.
You can bail easily on high bar, but yeah, we’ll talk about some of them. Some of the more considerations. Uh, let’s get our opinions out of the way first. So. You can go. Then I’ll go on opinions. Just our opinions of high bar versus low bar. And then I’ll read, uh, some of the studies around it because the studies aren’t even going to say one’s better than the other.
It’s just they’re used for different things. And I think I could explain that, uh, you know, from more of a scientific standpoint. But, uh, Joe, what’s your opinion of high bar versus low bar?
Joe Courtney: I don’t have one strong opinion one way or the other, but I do prefer high bar. I think it is the traditional, I mean when anyone I think of back squat, that’s, [00:02:00] that’s what I think of.
And to me, low bar is a deviation of the traditional high bar back squat. Just like a, a Sumo deadlift is a deviation from traditional bed lifts. So I prefer high bar. I think it’s when, when I think of squatting and picking things up, I think of high bar because you’re going to be keeping your chest up, your torso up versus kind of more bent over.
Jerred Moon: Yeah. And, uh, for anyone listening who doesn’t really know the difference between high bar and low bar, so high bar back squat. Is as it sounds like you, the, the bar is much higher on your back, like up in, into the, uh, I say much, but we’re talking about a couple inches here. In all honesty, it’s just higher on your backup, on your traps, but the actual stance and set up is a little bit different because you’re going to typically take a pretty narrow stance with high bar back squat or a narrower stance with high bar back squat.
And like you said, you’re going to keep it very upright torso. So low bar back squat. You have the bar a little bit lower on your back and you will typically [00:03:00] have a wider stance and more of a forward lean. So you’re going to be leaning forward, uh, to, to me, to me, and this gets into my opinion of it, to kind of cheat some of the distance because I feel like the reason I’m not a huge fan of a low bar back squat is because it’s like, like power lifting in general, power lifting the sport.
The only thing that matters is how much weight is moved. It doesn’t matter. It really nothing else matters. I mean, that’s why they wear shirts and in a nice leaves and all these other things, right? Or knee wraps or in these full compression suits and everything, because whatever they can do to move the weight.
So if you are a power lifter, you might want to, I mean, most of them do low bar, all of them do low bar back squat. But that forward lean motion, I feel like it’s almost two different things is like you are, you’re squatting down to some degree. And then it’s like you can’t squat down any further because your hips are so, uh, your stance is so wide, so you kind of lean the rest of you the depth, [00:04:00] and then you kind of do that in reverse.
It looks pretty good. Uh, but that’s, that’s a big reason I don’t like it. I feel like you’re kind of cheating the lift and I feel like you could get the same stimulus in other ways. And now with, um, high bar back squat, I just feel like it’s a little bit more athletic. Because when you go to jump, you know when you run and you like take a couple of steps in, you’re about to jump and you’re going to go as high as you can.
You’re not taking this really wide stance, you know what I mean? Like if you’re going to try and jump as high as you can and touch a spot on the wall, you’re not going to widen your feet as wide as you can and be like, yeah, let me try and jump. You’re going to put your feet really narrow, like really close together and then jump up.
And so I feel like jumping is just a little bit more explosive in nature. And that’s kind of what the research agrees, agrees with and I’ll get into that. But anything from what I said, um, you want to hit on Joe?
Joe Courtney: Yeah. So in regards to the, the been bent over more. So one thing that I was looking up videos, and the more I thought about it, if you, [00:05:00] if you take the high, the low bar back squat and where the position that you’re in when you’re toward the bottom of the back squat, you’re not going all the way to the full depth of the bottom.
But also, if you look at it from the side view, it’s basically the same as your deadlifts set up. So you’re almost working these same thing as your deadlift. But if we’re already deadlifting, then why would we need to do that again? So cause it, cause it gets forward with your posterior chain.
Jerred Moon: Yeah. And, and I mentioned a powerlifter just wanting to lift more.
You, you will lift more on a low bar back squat like that. You will, you just plain and simple. You lift more in a low bar, back squat, especially after you get good at it. Uh, but there are pros and cons to each one. So let me get into the, uh, there are two different studies. Um. I’m, I don’t normally like to do this, but I’m not going to read an entire study here, so I’m just going to get to the conclusion part.
I do think you guys should go kind of dissect these studies if you want to. I have two different ones pulled up. One is, um, from 2019, July 20, 19, it’s called the high bar and low bar back squats, a [00:06:00] biomechanical analysis. And then there’s another one from 1996. So going real wide range here. High and low bar squatting techniques during weight training.
And so going back to that first one I mentioned, kind of getting to the uh, conclusion, see our findings suggest that practitioners seeking to place emphasis on the stronger hip musculature. Should consider the low bar back squat. Also in the goal is to lift the greatest load possible. The low bar back squat NABI.
Preferable. Conversely, the high bar back squat is more suited to replicate movements that exhibit and more upright torso positions such as the snatch and clean, or to place more emphasis on the associated musculature of the knee joint. So they’re almost different, right? Like. If you want to just break it down into all the biomechanics there.
If you really want to really strengthen your hips and you feel like you have weak hips, then you probably want to go low bar back squat [00:07:00] because of the way you get out of a low bar. Back squat is a significant hip thrust forward, which is a pretty athletic movement, but it feels weird when you have a wide stance and then if you want to build more of your quadriceps and.
You know, get lower for that mobility, then a high bar back squat would be better. And then the other study, um, weightlifters. So when I say weightlifter, that is an Olympic weight. Lifters snatch and clean and jerk powerlifter is the three, you know, bench squat, dead lift. So weightlifters had the load more equally distributed between.
Hip and knee, whereas the power lifters put relatively more load on the hip joint. The thigh muscular activity was slightly higher for the power lifters. So there you’re hitting different muscle groups. So to your point, Joe, like they’re just different lifts and they work different muscles and they are different, you know, like big, big surprise.
But I think, uh, you. All right? If we talk [00:08:00] about things being transferable, I just feel personally that the high bar back squat is a little bit more, uh, can be translated to other movements, to more movements than specifically a, uh, low bar back squat. But having really strong hips, there’s nothing wrong with that.
So like, there’s, there’s nothing wrong with it at all. And so when we say back squat and our programming, if you would like to experiment with some low bar back squat. Go for it. You know, we don’t, we, we, we recommend high bar back squat most of the time. But if you’re like, Hey, I want to do the cycle low bar back squat, there’s no problem with that whatsoever.
You’ll end up with, you know, probably some stronger hips. It’ll, I don’t think you’ll initially lift more weight. I think you have to get pretty good at the form of it’s new for you and then you will be able to lift more weight. But yeah, that’s, it’s kind of like the trap bar. You can just move more weight with a trap bar, but it’s, uh, it’s a different thing, right?
It’s a different movement. Yeah.
Joe Courtney: A couple other last minute things. Uh, the high bar [00:09:00] will require a bit more mobility. Um, your ankle mobility, your, your knee has to come forward further. So if you have really, really, really tight ankles, lobar might be an option, but you should still work on upping that mobility.
So, and, but at the same time, to me, at least low bar, you’re going to have to have more mobile shoulders because the bar is going to be lower. So you have to wrap your arms around it more to get to get the weight on your Delt. And to me, sometimes I had issues with the wrapping my arm around, um. Making sure it’s pinned to my back cause it’s not just sitting on your back.
You actually have to pin it to your back to keep it in place cause it’s not on your traps. So there’s two other things to, to note and consider.
Jerred Moon: Yeah. And I mean, I’m. People listen to podcasts? No, I’ve just not a huge fan of power lifting in general. I think it’s awesome what those guys can do, how much they can lift, and you know, all that’s really impressive.
But outside of how much weight is on a bar, a typically not super impressed otherwise. Not super impressed with the health, mobility. Anything else in the [00:10:00] power lifting world. And that’s why I kind of don’t. I want to mimic things. So you talk about mobility. Um, yeah. I, when I think of mobility, when I think of Olympic weightlifter, I think ridiculous mobility.
You know, when I think of power lifter, tying shoes might be a difficult challenge, you know? And so that’s, that’s kinda my thoughts on it. And, uh, yeah, I, I want the mobility. But if you do have weak hips or you’re not as explosive, you want to be considered that low bar back spot for a cycle or maybe for a few weeks and add it to the routine.
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