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Question about Jim's Personal Squat Style


Hi Jim,

I have always been squatting “High Bar” and didn’t know that such thing as “Low Bar” existed until I read stuff on the internet. I just put the bar on my shoulders and squatted.
Now I read starting strength by Mark Rippetoe and I am currently trying to learn “low bar” squatting the way he teaches it in the book.
Then I noticed that there are some major differences to your suggestions from the 2nd edtition.

Do you personally place the bar on your traps or your rear delts?
I ask because you advise your readers to pull your ellbows under the bar while in Starting Strength Mark Rippetoe states that it is very important to have ellbows behind the bar so that the weight is carried by your back only and nothing is transferred into your ellbows. Pulling your ellbows under the bar would mean that you have to put the bar on your traps, is that correct? (Making it rather a ‘high bar’ position)

When it comes to whether one puts his thumbs around the bar or not; Mark Rippetoe says lifters must not put it around as otherwise some of the load will be transferred to the wrist. Putting thumbs around means you have to put the bar on the traps, right?

These questions might sound pretty stupid but I’m just curious what you think about it. Maybe you got some time to answer, would be much appreciated.


I’m not Jim, but I’ve had my best progress just by trying different bar placements and hand placements to see what is more comfortable. I started squatting with a low bar placement and a thumbless grip. After a while, I started having elbow pain so I tried altering my grip width and used a full grip on the bar. I don’t focus on tucking my elbows or anything. I just do what is most comfortable.

Just be open to change. You might squat a certain way now, but in a few years you may have to change it up a bit.


Search for Johnny Candito’s low bar squat tutorial on youtube. He explains that there are different ways to low bar squat and that some very successful powerlifters do it different than Rippetoe suggests. Some say it gives you more lat and upper back tightness if you pull your elbows under the bar, and I feel the same way, but that’s personal preference. (also, I don’t have the shoulder flexibility to do the Rippetoe squat - unless I widen my grip, but then I feel less stable)


Both - how can you squat without the bar being on your traps? Unless you are 80lbs and have no muscle. It’s impossible.

Nope - you just have to get in the right position. What I see being called “low bar”, to me, isn’t low bar. So I quit trying to figure out what people say is high bar/low bar. In fact, there is no word in any language to describe how little I care how other people squat.

Put the bar on your back where YOU are comfortable and can squat correctly. As some guy said, it will change as you get bigger/stronger or even get older. Not one single person with perspective and maturity grades a squat based on bar position. Find your way and never be tied down to one style. If you do, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle when things need to change.


Check out old article of jims on tnation called strong, fast and brutal. Whenever head gets fucked up and start thinking about technique too much i read this.


Thanks for replying everyone, thanks Jim!

Ok sorry then, what I meant was if it is rather a high bar or low bar position.

I’m afraid I don’t really understand that?

I assumed that bar placement plays a role because I thought that with ‘low bar’ squats you rather use the posterior chain while ‘high bar’ is rather quad dominant. But doesn’t matter much as it seems?

It’s also not about myself or my personal squat. I read Rippetoe’s chapter on the squat and remembered that there were also some suggestions in your “2nd edition”, so I read that one again and was just curious if there’s a reason for the differences.

Maybe I simply overthink this. Thanks a lot!

I will, thank you!


I have squatted for 28 years or so. I can count on my hands how many running/lifting/jumping sessions I missed in first 10 years on one hand.

I have been around lifting my entire life, personally coached probably 1000 people. Done seminars. Written books. Coached at college with “high end” athletes, coached regular middle-age people, coached young kids.

I’m saying it doesn’t matter. Squat with the bar where you do best and you’ll be fine. When you begin lifting, a person needs guidelines to follow, and I think Mark is the BEST person I’ve ever seen in regards to this. However, at some point, you will have to make your own decisions. And when you reach that point, you will realize that it doesn’t matter.

I hope this is very clear.