4 Reasons Low Bar Squats Are Better Than High Bar Squats
Written by Keith Hansen
April 17, 2018
There is a reason (actually four) that powerlifters almost exclusively use the low bar squat variation in competition.
It's just better. I squatted high bar for years because it was the only thing I knew. I didn't even know it was called high bar squatting. I just thought it was the way squats are done.
That all changed when I came a across some powerlifting training articles that altered my training forever.
I learned to get comfortable with the bar lower on my back. I relearned the squat. Then I squatted more weight than ever before(550lbs).
It was only after practicing low bar squats for years that I leaned the reasons it was so much better.
Posterior, Posterior, Posterior
There has been one client ever that has stepped into Seriously Strong Training with a overly strong posterior chain. This is because she had spent the previous year on a rowing team and focused on developing her glutes.
Every other client has needed more posterior chain strength. These are all of the muscles that run down the back side of your body beginning at the base of your skull. Spinal erectors, glutes, and hamstrings are the big ones.
These are also the muscles required for a great deadlift. Using the low bar squat to develop your posterior chain will increase your strength in the squat and the deadlift.
The low bar squat lets you lift more weight at parallel. Do I really need to say more?
This is because we place more demand on the hamstrings and glutes. These are enormous muscle groups that work together to extend the hips.
The barbell is also closer to your hips and lower on the back. This helps your back stay tighter and reduces your chance of losing your balance forward.
Lower Mobility REquirements
I teach the low bar squat for all of the reasons in this article, but one of the biggest reasons I teach it to beginners is because they can actually do it.
The high bar squat requires large degrees of ankle mobility that most people just don't have.
The low bar squat shines here because I have yet to train a client without the ankle mobility to perform a serviceable low bar squat.
In every commercial gym in America you will find squat pads and manta rays (that weird blue thing) near the squat racks.
That's because the vast majority of squatters use the high bar squat, and the high bar squat hurts like hell.
You will never see people using a barbell pad when low bar squatting because it wouldn't work, and it just isn't necessary.
Good low bar squat form nestles the bar neatly beneath your traps and atop your rear delt. It is as if our bodies were made to rest a barbell here.
Watch this video to see exactly where the bar should be placed.