T Nation

Bar Speed on Squats


So I like to measure my bar speed each week for my top single to see if I’m moving faster or slower to gauge my progress. Never bothered asking but is 3 seconds slow on a squat?

Last week, I moved my top single of 325@RPE 7.5 and it took 2.8 seconds.
This week, wasn’t feeling too good so I kept it the same and it moved at the same RPE but took 3 seconds.

I ask because I’ve seen some strong lifters move weight fast and is 3 seconds from the descent and back up, overall, too slow?


Do you have one of those magnetic bar attachment thingies? They seem pretty cool for having another objective measure to gauge your training but personally it seems a bit much to me.

I think its better off to compare your bar to speed to yourself. Comparing to other lifters where there are all kinds of confounding variables isn’t helpful at all.

Isn’t time it takes to ascend more important than descent and the only bar speed that really matters? Squat descents can vary from Stan Efferdings 10 minute descents to dive bombing from the top. No one fails on the descent tho all it does is set you up to get the best ascent possible. So probs focus on measuring ascent from now on.


No, just take a video and crop it from top to back up. Didn’t even know you could buy those.

I keep comparing the speed to the previous week’s. Not nearly strong enough to compare it to anyone else haha, just using them as an example.

I don’t drop down, but I surely don’t take a lot of time to descend.

Ascending usually takes anywhere from 1.7-2.1 seconds when the RPE is above 7.


So you get ascent time… not bad. Never even thought of that myself.

Lel my point was: probably best to disregard descent time/speed because doesn’t matter. Measure and give a shit about ascent.

I think the heavier weights get the less they tolerate deviations in bar path, grinding or just taking longer under the bar. Like you can misgroove and recover from a grind 315 easy enough by using your back but when there’s a couple more hundred pounds on the bar your back won’t be able to save you so to make a heavy squat it has to be either clean and fast (relatively) or not at all.

Look at Ray Williams’ WR squat

Maybe apply your methods to vids of other good squatters too to find the answer for yourself.


I honestly would keep track of the decent if you are going to go to this extent to track. Technique is about engraining a pattern. If you are slowing down, perhaps it’s a hesitancy from your perception of the weight feeling heavier that particular day. For me, the set up and descent is becoming more and more important. I just can’t afford the injury risk associated with misgrooving now that I’m pushing 40. I learned this one the hard way. If you are starting a lift out of groove, chances are that it’s going to end up out of groove to a greater extent on lockout. I’m not afraid to terminate a set early these days. I would start looking for a correlation. I don’t know where you would even begin to look for though. RPE is relative, so IDK. As long as you are in the groove as much as possible, I don’t think it would matter much.


biggest thing I noticed was that I forgot to push my knees out on the way back. Didn’t have the whole knee valgus thing, but pushing them out even more helps with the sticking point.


Previous Post

I addressed much of this in a previous; click on the above link to see it.

Below is some of the information that was in it the pertains to you.

Control The Descent

You control (practice) the Descent in approximately the first 3/4 of the movement as Chad stated, as you will with your heavy load of at or near your 1 Repetition Max.

As the saying goes, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only Perfect Practice Make Perfect.”

Recoiling Out of The Hole

Learning where to recoil out of the hole is a timing issue that take practice.

You need to learn where to allow the the bar speed in the descent to accelerate and where to stop the recoil and apply concentric force to drive the weight back up.

The Concentric Part of The Squat

In the Concentric Part of The Squat (any movement), you need to drive the weight up as hard and fast as you can, no matter the load.

This has to do with…

CAT, Compensatory Acceleration

This term was categorized by Dr Fred Hatfield, “Dr Squat”, who at one time was the lightest man to Squat over 1,000 at a body weight of 252 lbs.

CAT means driving the weight as fast as you can. What this does is innervate more of the Fast Twitch Type IIa and the “Super” Fast Type IIb/x Muscle Fiber

CAT allso educates the Central Nervous System to quickly engage/recruit more of the Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber.

Think of rate coding/muscle fiber as being able to add more guy to your “Tug of War Rope” pull than the other team has.

Compensatory Acceleration needs to be use with light, moderate and heavy loads.

Optimizing CAT, Compensatory Acceleration

One of the keys in the development of the Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber is…

  1. Band and/or Chains: The load at the top of a Squat is lighter than in the hole. By adding Bands and/or Chains (Accommodating Resistance) it enables you to engage more of the Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber at the top of the Squat.

  2. Going Ballistic: Another method when using a lighter load is to drive up so fast with the weight that you jump with the weight or your feet come slightly off the ground. This ensure you have fully engaged the Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber at the top part of the Squat.

Kenny Croxdale


Fair point didn’t think of this


There are plenty of different bar speed/velocity tracking devices, search around and you will find them. You can only compare yourself to you, some people are naturally more explosive but those often lack the ability to grind and the lift is either clean and fast or they stick and fail. If you lack explosiveness then look into CAT (compensatory acceleration training), aside from applying maximum force to all working reps you can do lighter downsets like 70-80%x2-5 for multiple sets. Josh Bryant has plenty of information on this, look him up or check out his books “Built to the Hilt: Strength and Power Edition” and “Bench Press: the Science”, they have plenty of info on this. I’m currently basing my training on stuff I learned from Josh and it’s going well.