Help with Hand Placement for Squats

Hey, I squatted last evening for first time since '99. Glad it’s available at my new gym, but have a question about grip & hand placement:

It’s nearly impossible to get my thumbs on the bar rings. Not sure if they need to be that close?

If the grip width needs to be that tight, what stretches would help me get it there?

In the past I sometimes placed my hands on top of the plates and am sure that isn’t good, but where exactly is preferred?

Also, stretching in general: when is best to do it, what types & how much!

Thank you.

There’s no need to have your fingers on the rings. For some people, a narrower grip can help to achieve proper tightness in their upper back, so I think a good starting point is to just go as narrow as you can without pain. There’s nothing wrong with putting your hands right on the end of the bar, a lot of people do it, mostly bigger guys and/or people with bum shoulders. Putting them on top of the plates sounds weird though, wouldn’t that tax your shoulder mobility even more?

The narrowest point of comfort for me is a the end of the bar inside the plates.

Hands over the plates I guess is asking for trouble, just a bad habit I started years ago, not knowing any better.

Another question is how deep is best? Not sure I am even getting 90 degrees on it, so probably need to work on flexibility and keep the weight light until the correct form is established? Just have to wonder if 90 degrees is paramount to getting the results? If I only get to 70deg, would that suffice while I try to work flexibility?

Thank you!

A lot of these questions depend on why you are squatting and lifting in the first place.

Defining what is “best” is a pretty shifty concept in lifting. Best for geared powerlifting might be different from best for raw powerlifting which might be different from best for bodybuilding which might be different from best for a guy who just wants to take selfies and post them on the internet.

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Ok understood. Best for me is what will make the legs as strong as possible 3-4 months from now, while avoiding injury from bad form.
Not likely I’d post selfies voluntarily, and don’t compete at anything. What I care about is what I see in the mirror when that old man is staring back at me. Could care less about what anybody else other than my wife thinks of it …
Can’t say I’ve defined what sort of lifter I am yet, but body type is the goal. I desire the physique of a Spartan, and have the time, energy and drive to work on it as much as necessary, as well as the willingness to learn & try new things at the gym.

Hey man grip that bar as tight as you can and squeeze it to your back like you’re trying to bend the bar. I think it’d be hard to tighten your back with your hands all the way on the plates. If you have access to a SS Yoke Bar use it instead; they’re great for people with limited shoulder mobility. I’m not big on stretching but I like to warm up with kettlebell goblet squats before I squat. Grab a few of em from light to heavy and perform 8-10 reps pausing in the hole. It’s normally easier to achieve a deeper squat and helps program the function before moving to the barbell. Hope you find this helpful.

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here is a great link from paul carter about protecting the elbow

and an excellent one from Max Aitta with Mark Bell about ‘skwaats’
but at 21.00 it discusses tightness - hand placement etc.

I tend to get some elbow and shoulder discomfort from squatting multiple times a week- and Im an average joe at best.

I try to-
get my upper back pretty tight
pull the bar down - activating my lats
pull the bar apart- that seems to really set my upper back.

also when Im banged up- or cant get my hands over the bar
I leave my ring finger and pinky- under the bar- makes a big difference in comfort