T Nation

Squat pads

In “Information Detonation” Dr. Mike Hartle says that padding the bar when squatting is bad for the spine. Is this true and why?

I’ve read that from other strength coaches as well - Poliquin I think. The pad just throws off the allignment. Think about it, some of these pads can throw the bar almost an inch away from your body. I think Dr. Kinakin talked about this too once in one of his interviews at T-mag.

Try the Manta Ray instead. Doesn’t affect bar position (in fact, can help). I use one all the time, from when I was far too bony (past runner and triathlete).

That does not surprise me. Makes complete sense. The primary reason I don’t use the pads is due to how “goofy” it feels. So I use a towel (just lying over my shoulders) instead.

i have tried both the bar pad and the manta ray.i find that the bar pad makes the bar feel unbalanced on my back and i tend to carry the bar higher when i use it.this results in me leaning forward in the hole due to the high bar placement.
as for the manta ray,its a great piece and i used it at the begining for comfort and stability reasons.it really does hold the bar stable but once i tried squatting without it,i realized i was better off without it.the reason again,is the manta ray doesnt allow me to use a lower bar placement and therefore it doesnt allow me to use heavier weights comfortably.my suggestion is to keep trying to get your back accustomed to the bare bar and eventually you will find that its the best way.i was very thin as well and 6’3" tall so i understand your situation.try alternating sets with a pad or towel and then without anything.i think you will eventually feel the benefit of the naked bar.it took me about 3 months to get to that point.best of luck

The pad is just plain bad to use. I’m not sure if it’s that bad for the spine (makes sense that it would be), but I do know that it will cause the bar to slide down your back, especially when using heavy loads. Just suck it up, you’ll get used to it.

Hartles exact reason was because it puts the bar higher on your back. :slight_smile:

I’ve always been against using any kind of pad at all that places a separation between the bar and your body. It’s less stable, and you’re just asking for an injury. Especially on squats.

It’s funny, because I’m just the right height that I can’t unrack the squat bar safely. I have to go WAY up on my toes in order to get the bar over the hook. For awhile, I couldn’t increase the weight because it didn’t feel safe. THEN I started using the pad, and the 1/4 inch (or whatever)it gives me allows me to unrack a lot more safely. I’ve doubled my squat poundages since then (not just due to the pad though!)

I’ve always used the pad…not those cheap crappy/worn out ones…hence i used heavy poundage and it is a bitch on my traps to use the bar “bare”…i’ve never had any problems with them…always make sure that the pad are “right in the middle” when in use…

1" makes that much of a difference? What if I did a lot of shrugs and added an inch of muscle on the traps? Then I suppose I shouldn’t squat. It’s minutia, guys.