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Need Help with Low Bar Squat Elbow Position

I’ve been powerlifting for a bout 9 months now. I’ve had this constant issue with my squat where when im approaching the bottom, my elbows just slide down forward and my upper back becomes loose but remains in extension. I’ve tried keeping my elbows up but they still swing forward at the bottom and are almost pointing straight up against the bar. I use a thumbless grip. Please help me!

Vid please.

I had this problem before my mate reckoned it was a flexibility thing but I ended up solving it by setting my back up better/tighter and not thinking about where my elbows are/go. I found good elbow position that doesn’t change is a result of a tight back set up not the other way around.

If my back got set up and stayed tight then my elbows stay in line with my torso angle and maintain that position through the whole lift. Every now and then I’m sloppy but it’s corrected elbows moving about.


You need to get tight and stay tight, and brace properly as well.

Keeping your elbows DOWN works better for 99% of people. It’s only Mark Rippetoe and his cult members that advocate elbows up, few (if any) high level lifters squat like that. Not only is it an awkward position, you also can’t engage your lats with your elbows up and that is part of bracing properly.


heres a link to my squat videos

oh, i’ve read a lot about elbows down have not tried it will do next session. But at the bottom my entire upper back loosens up. here’s the video- https://youtu.be/Vlwfs9oveoc

Thanks man.

First of all, don’t post sideways videos.

Next, where did you learn that squat technique from, Mark Rippetoe and the Starting Strength crowd? Just about everyone else disagrees with him about keeping your elbows up and looking down, I really don’t understand why he tells people to do that. It’s not working for you either. Your elbows don’t want to stay up as your descend, perhaps because your body is instinctively activating your lats to increase stability, so why the hell would you want to keep them up anyway? Looking down is going to increase the odds of back rounding, and that is exactly what is happening.

Basically, just forget everything you learned from Rippetoe or whoever. Mark Bell has a youtube video with Ed Coan on how to squat, watch that and do what they say. The best thing abut Ed Coan as a coach is that he really has an eye for technique, and he’s no bullshitter either.

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I’ve had my best luck pulling my elbows not down, but towards my hips. I get the same problem pulling them straight to the ground plus the benny of shoulder problems :slight_smile:

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Are you hips not below your shoulders?

Yeah I’ve Learnt it from mark and Alan thrall. Thanks for the informative reply I’ll work on that.

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The line between my shoulders and hips isn’t a perpendicular line to the ground except in the very beginning and ending position of the squat.

I think the problem may be that when I reach near the bottom my back rounds forward which causes my elbows to swing forward and I lose all tightness. The bar is then supported by bones rather than the rear delts shelf. Could be that I’m rounding to reach that extra range of motion or is it a mobility issue or a bad habit?

I’m saying to keep them down, not in a vertical line at 90 degrees to the earth’s surface.

Nobody can answer that except maybe yourself, the point is to stop doing it. However, I doubt it has anything to do with mobility, more likely you aren’t tight in the right places because you are following a madman’s instructions on how to squat.

My physical therapist had me pitch forward a little - so my elbows are back a lil, and I just think of the squat like a leg press once I’m braced hard. I had elbow pain from being upright and my elbows sliding and that worked like magic.


Squeeze oranges in your armpits and make a hard double chin while looking straight ahead. That should bring everything pretty much where it should be.


Keep in mind that Rippetoe’s core audience is non-athletic individuals of the general public. He teaches a bastardized version of the squat that is easier for these folks to learn. Once the grip width is set to a width that tightens the back without prying the shoulder apart, pull inwards with the upper back (like a wide grip pulldown) and set the chest in a proud position. Let the head and the elbows be where your body wants them to be. Personally my eyes end up focusing on the floor about 30 feet out. Yours will vary based on anthropometry.

If you squat like Rip advocates, heavy weights will pull you over forward.