Low Bar Squat Form Check

I am trying to learn low bar squat. Today I tried for first time and worked up to 225.

One issue I already notice: my hips are not traveling along a vertical axis (there is horizontal displacement). I was trying not to drive them forward. Any tips/cues for this?

Another trouble I had: very difficult to get hands around the bar AND keep wrists straight (not allowing wrists to bend back). I had to grip wider than normal, pinkies on the 81cm ring. Does this require developing more flexibility?

Here are also two videos of my high bar squat and pistol squat for reference.

Also, I’m not sure if I had the correct bar placement: still might have been too high up on traps. Can you look at the attached picture and tell me if it’s correct? The red marks are where the bar was.

These look pretty good, and I’m no expert, but thought I might throw a few ideas out.

Bar position may be a hair high, but not bad. There’s not a lot of red there to tell, and I can’t really see your scapulae, but the bar should rest just below the spine of the scapula. I’m going to post a link where Ripplestiltskin explains this, among other things.

I also think your elbows need to be pointed more towards the floor, which will help create tightness and a shelf for the bar to rest on.

It appears that you’re not setting your spine angle enough - it should be more horizontal - think nipples to the floor.

Finally, your head should be tilted a slight bit more forward - look at the floor about six feet in front of you.

Oh, and, exhale on the concentric, not at the top. In other words, as you hit the sticking point coming out of the hole.

I’ve probably missed something, and likely wrong on a few things, but hey, it’s the interwebz.

Here’s the link.

Good luck.

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Bar path is meant to be vertical not hip path lel?

While many people cue to sit your hips straight down vertically between your legs in reality this isn’t what happens.

Try a few of the vids on this search

You will get a bit more flexible over time but low bar really isn’t a comfortable position ever. Straight wrists is how its taught in the beginning but really the weight is on your back so you can go bent wrists if it allows you to get a tighter back / set up ala Andrey Malanichev All Time World Record Total @ SHW.

The tight back/set up is the important thing and you want to avoid having excessive pressure on your wrists/elbows/shoulder when setting up.

Can’t see shit unfortunately. Probably take a video from behind during squats with the filming device around about chest level. How low you go is personal preference. Some peeps don’t go as low as they can in training because it destroys their shoulders especially with decent volumes. Some peeps do a lower high bar position in comp.

This is kinda of a good approach you’re taking in learning the low bar squat. Set Up, Walkout, Feet/Knees, Breathing and Bracing, Descent etc. should be addressed one at a time in order so you aren’t overwhelmed trying to better everything at once. Let’s perfect your set up for now and then move on. Post some vids from different angles (especially from behind) and update us.

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That was a good video, thanks

“Nipples to the floor” is good too. I’m going to think that next time.

When you say head tilted forward more - do you mean more cervical flexion or more cervical extension? The goal is to keep the entire back/c-spine/head on the same axis, right?

Hey, I was referring to this from 4:40 onward

Seems I was making the same mistake as the guy in the video.
Though watching my video again does seem my bar path was fairly vertical.

Thanks for the advice.
I’ll take more videos from behind and post in a couple days.

That’s Rippetoe’s / Starting Strength style squat. Learn it if you wish but like anything you gotta take what works and discards what doesn’t after giving it a good go.

I’d rather listen to arguably the greatest powerlifter of all time Ed Coan than Rippetoe any day. There’s a bit in this vid about “opening your taint” i.e. opening at the hips to descend in the squat. Whole thing’s worth a watch anyways.

Exactly. When your spine angle is more horizontal, nipples to the floor, your eyes should be focused on the floor about six feet in front of you to maintain this axis, which should be neutral - no flexion or extension. This is primarily for injury prevention I believe.

Just for reference, I’m one of those dudes that only recently got into powerlifting, has read a lot of shit, had a Starting Strength coach, and primarily parrot shit that I have heard, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt.

Valid point by the way.

As is this

Curious as to the OP’s goals for shifting to Low Bar, just for my own erudition. I prefer it myself, primarily because I don’t have to use the pussy pad.

Pretty much because I’ve never done it before, so figured I should try it out.

My posterior chain is also very weak, particularly glutes/hamstrings. I have deadlifted 500 but could only squat ~340 or so at that time. Might be because I only ever squatted high bar, ATG with a significant stretch reflex. So I think I became pretty quad dominant from that.

Hopefully becoming competent at low bar could help me developing posterior chain more. And who knows maybe I will actually be stronger at it, eventually.

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I disagree on these three points. Generally speaking, you want to be as upright as possible unless you have weak quads and are stronger in a good morning-style squat.

Only Mark Rippetoe would argue that you should look down while squatting, where the head goes the body will follow and you don’t want that to be six feet in front of you on the floor when you are attempting a new max. Either neutral or looking slightly up is fine.

And what advantage is there to exhaling on the concentric? While you might be able to get away with that, there are plenty of people who say to keep your air in until you are standing upright. Holding your breath helps you brace, if you let it out as you come up then there is more chance of losing tension.

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First of all, your squat looks OK except that you descend too slow and also look like you’re easing the weight out of the hole rather than trying to apply maximum force. Of course you are new to low bar squatting so you should eventually be able to sort that out, your high bar squat looks fine in that regard. And if the bar position bothers your wrist then I suggest using wrist wraps.

If you can deadlift 500 and only squat 340 then you don’t have a weak posterior chain, you’re just not that good at squatting and it’s quite possible that a low bar squat will allow you to lift more. On the other hand, some of the best lifters squat high bar so maybe that’s the way to go. Just don’t do any ATG type of stuff if your goal is to move the most weight, you want to go slightly below parallel and no deeper.

No, you have to drive your hips forward at some point. You have to shift your hips back to squat so there is no way to come back up without them moving back forward.

It actually sounds like you have good flexibility, I squat with my index fingers on the rings. As I said before, buy wrist wraps if it doesn’t feel good on your wrist. If that doesn’t solve the problem then wider grip and thumbs over the bar should help.

Right on, love a good discussion, just trying to learn myself.

Pretty sure I didn’t say that. Here’s the quote,

What I said intended to get a more neutral neck, not flexion nor extension. According to an article on NattyorNot, Ed Coan “looks forward when he squats.”

Not up, not down.

So when you write,

meh, we’re pretty close there. If you do stay

then looking up is probably fine.

In answer to this question, I respectfully refer to page 328 of Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning.

“For most exercises, exhale through the sticking point of the concentric phase and inhale through the eccentric phase.”

That’s the third edition by the way, and the text upon which the NSCA bases its Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist credential. I’m not saying it’s right, just saying where I got it.

Once you are standing upright, you are actually at greater risk of spinal injury due to lack of a rigid tube since axially loading is at it’s greatest - I think.

So rock on brother.

@The_Myth @chris_ottawa @khangles

Here are a couple heavier singles from today.

This time I tried to not to think too much about the form (i.e. Ripptoe videos) and just squat.

A few things I noticed that changed:

  1. No longer concerned with keeping my wrists straight. Curled feels more natural to me and just as stable

  2. Elbows are still pretty far back. I think this may be one of the points I should consciously try to work on. Part of it is not actively thinking about it, part of it is a flexibility issue. I am sure the latter should improve with more practice.

  3. No longer concerned so much with head position. I looked slightly up because that felt natural to me.

  4. Still majorly lacking explosiveness. I do not feel explosive in the hole, at all. This could be because I am still learning the for…as such I feel I am consciously slowly my descent. I don’t quite have the confidence of what parallel “feels like” so I’m not really using the bounce/stretch reflex at the bottom because I’m simply going down to slow.

Would appreciate more advice. Do they look better, worse, the same. What are the biggest mistakes.


Just keep squatting and it should improve, you could also try adding pause squats to sort out the bottom position. Also, lighter submaximal downsets focusing on accelerating through the concentric portion, like a few sets of 2-5 with 65-80% of your estimated max.

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Looks pretty good to me. The picky picky low bar crowd would suggest sitting back more while pointing nipples to the floor so you can get more hip drive out of the hole, but I don’t see that as a big deal. It looks like you are back on your heels a bit.

Pause squats with lighter weights would also help getting more hip drive.