Movement Technique: High-Bar vs. Low-Bar Squat

This week I’m writing about the different techniques regarding the five major lifts: back squat, deadlift, bench press, clean & jerk, and snatch.

With the back squat, you will see olympic lifters place the barbell on their traps and powerlifters place it lower down on their upper back. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, as evident in the picture below.

Low-Bar Back Squat -> High-Bar Back Squat -> Front Squat


My younger brother is 20-lbs lighter than me. I outlift him in every lift by a considerable amount of weight (as an older, heavier brother should!) But he used to always get me on the back squat. He practiced a low-bar technique while I did a high-bar technique.

The next time we squatted together, he taught me how to low-bar. I PR’d by 35-lbs. No joke. I couldn’t tell if he was happy for me or not… I finally passed him on the back squat.

I told myself later that day that I would never high-bar again. That was until I started having bicep tendonitis. My elbows started to really hurt. I guess that’s why the powerlifting world calls it “squatter’s elbow.”

Today, I record my back squat weights as different scores: one for low-bar and another for high-bar. I still train both, but I definitely favor the high-bar (especially for high volume workouts). It’s just easier on my biceps and elbows.

But that’s just me. I know of plenty lifters that can high-bar more than they can low-bar squat. My recommendation is to simply train both. Variance is key to any good training program.

Tyler

P.S. I came across a phenomenal explanation of these two squats in a 2008 publication written by Mark Rippetoe. Rippetoe is a regular author of the Strength and Conditioning Journal, the CrossFit Journal, and also the author of four books on strength. You can view his whole publication here.

Daily WOD

I’m challenging you right now to workout 50 days in-a-row. Here is your workout today.

Day 30 (of 50)
Every 5:00, x4:
400m Run
20 Double Dumbbell Front Squats

Other “Movement Technique” Articles In This Series:
1. Back Squat: High-Bar vs. Low-Bar
2. Deadlift: Conventional vs. Sumo
3. Bench Press: Close-Grip vs. Wide-Grip
4. Jerk: Split vs. Squat
5. Snatch (DB): Horizontal-Grip vs. Vertical-Grip

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