Although many of you may be keen to skip leg day
Here we’ll analyze what the benefits between the two variations are, and
Why Should I Squat?
So what is a “low bar” squat anyway? “Low bar” refers to the position of the bar relative to your back, and how far down past your shoulders the bar is placed. In the low bar position, the bar will be placed in the middle of your traps, resting in line with your rear delts.
Many intuitively will not utilize low-bar squats, with the bar positioning not feeling “natural”. Hand placement may feel too wide, the bar may feel like it is slipping, and more importantly if done improperly it will give you the feeling of falling forward. So if it feels so unnatural, why should you use it?
When done properly, and with subsequent practice, none of the above-mentioned side effects will occur. You may feel the need to practice the low-bar positioning first, going through the motions before adding any weight. Once the positioning feels more comfortable, slowly adding weight until you reach your new maximum is advisable. With any exercise or
Assuming correct form, low-bar squats are proven to be a much more stable option. With the bar lower on your back, there is less lateral movement, as well as a shorter range of motion. Because of this smaller range of motion, you may see an increase in your new max squat
Because of the centralized weight of the bar, it can take the stress off your knees and relocate more of the work to your glutes and hamstrings.
Naturally, any exercise that yields the most benefits usually is much more difficult to perform. If you are unable to keep a locked position with a straight back, executing low-bar squats can become nearly impossible. The aim is to keep the tension toward the posterior portion of your legs, utilizing the hamstrings as much as possible. Without keeping these things in mind, low-bar squatting becomes the far inferior positioning.
In summary, if you’re able to low-bar squat properly, it’s the best choice. If you can’t perform the motion, it’s better to stay away.
If you aren’t sure whether you currently use low-bar or high-bar positioning, you most likely are using the latter. The most natural positioning for the bar, it rests on the top of the traps inline with your shoulders. This provides an easier hand positioning, with your grip being narrower and more comfortable. A vertical back, outward-faced hips, and wider knee angles are stereotypical of this form.
But just because it feels right, it doesn’t mean it is the best form for squatting. Even though it may not be the most effective, it is suggested that beginners start with this form. As with anything, transitioning from lower weights on up is recommended, with the potential switch in bar positioning coming after extended practice.
High-bar squats do have an upper hand in some areas, although it seems to be the inferior form overall. Because the bar positioning is higher, the stress is transferred to the anterior portion of your legs. This means your quads will see the most benefit from the high-bar position, with your hamstrings and glutes being secondary.
One cautionary tip for the high-bar squat is to always keep a strong vertical torso, a consideration solely attributed to this form. If this upright form isn’t kept, the ability to lose balance and potentially fall forward is much higher. Be sure to always understand your limits, because once higher weights are reached, the chances of losing your balance greatly increases.
As mentioned above, the downsides of high bar squats are easily apparent. Balance issues, inefficient movement, and higher risk of injury all come with this form. With this said, any new lifter should start with this form in the beginning, with its natural positioning benefiting the unpracticed. Perfecting this bar positioning should be the first step to anyone unfamiliar, with the transition into low-bar form being optional soon after.
If you are curious of the benefits between the two forms, it’s most likely you are somewhat experienced with squatting. In this case, if you have been accustomed to high-bar squatting for some time, experimenting with low-bar squats can be an option to you. Another potential option is switching between the two forms, making use of the benefits of both and maximizing the workload of your glutes, hamstrings, and quads simultaneously.
In the end, the choice is up to you, going with whatever form suits your needs best. Forcing one form or the other will just lead to possible injuries or joint pains, so trusting your body and practicing safe techniques should be your first priority.