Coaches Corner: High Bar or Low Bar?

High Bar or Low Bar?

Let's define our terms.

High Bar- Bar placement on top of traps

Low Bar- Bar placement below traps on rear delts.

What does each accomplish?

High Bar- Usually has a lower learning curve so it is the first style most athletes gravitate towards when first learning to squat. You will be more upright in the high bar squat when compared to the low bar squat in order to keep the athlete's center of mass over midfoot. This increases the moment arm at the knee, which causes more stress to be placed on the quadriceps. The demand on shoulder mobility will be less in the high bar squat. 

Low Bar- The bar placement will be lower on the back which naturally causes a more “forward lean” during the squat as the athlete compensates in order to keep their center of mass over midfoot. This increases the hip moment arm, thus demanding more from the hip musculature and less from the knee. This lower bar placement on the back also demands more shoulder mobility.

Which is better?

Low bar and high bar squats each have their own pros and cons. If your goal is to move to the most weight then the low bar position will likely be the better choice due to the mechanical advantage it provides. However, if you are not looking to compete anytime soon or are looking to stress your quadriceps more then the high bar squat might be a better fit for your current goals. The low bar squat can also place a ton of stress on your shoulders and if you are currently dealing with any shoulder aches or pains you may choose to perform a high bar squat during that time. You may even see some athletes have a “mid bar” placement because that is where they feel the strongest and most comfortable. So which is the better squat to perform? The answer to this will ultimately depend on your goals and your current situation as an individual.

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