T Nation

Squat Form and Elbows


I've read through Dave Tate's squatting mistake article - but I can't quite figure out what he meant by keeping the elbows in?

I notice many power-lifters grip the bar at different places. I tend to prefer a far out / wide grip myself - but I don't understand the "keeping the elbows in" bit. Does he mean keeping the elbows more under the bar than back? When I try that it feels like the bar is gonna fall off my back or something: What should I be experiencing? Can someone help an idiot understand this, I just can't grasp it.



He means to pull your elbows toward your back and "bend" the bar over your back. Keeping pressure on the bar as you squat helps balance it and will help keep your back in position. Your body stays tight during the movement when you are holding the bar tight against your back.


I could be wrong (I am certainly not a great powerlifter and only squat 250), but I believe what he is trying to emphasize is squeezing your shoulder blades together and the upper body tight. If your elbows flare out to the sides, you will lose tightness in the upper back.

Anybody want to add to or correct that?


Ah I see. "Bend" helps me understand it, like you are trying to drape it over your back tight. Got it! I was already doing it but not consciously, now I can focus on it specifically to see the result. Thanks guys.


What I thought he meant was that one should keep your elbows pointed more towards the floor rather than back. Failure to do so may tend to let the weight come forward from your center of gravity and you are stuck doing a heavy good morning.


Bingo! I have seen many people get confused on this and basically end up with their elbows up (45 degree or higher) and more or less pushing on the bar thinking this is what is meant by bending it around their shoulders.

Elbows down (ideally parallel with your trunk)and pull on the bar to bend it around your shoulders. This will help alot in keeping your upper back tight, chest out and helping you stay upright through the transition.

Oftentimes, a beginner lifter will not have enough meat on their upper back to do this effecively without a high bar position (because the bar will slip) and will need to thicken up a little before this becomes easier.

Also, longer limbed/larger lifters may have to have their elbows somewhat behind them because there is just not enough room under the bar. However, you should always focus on pulling on the bar, not pushing.