T Nation

Squat Shoulder Mobility


Question: how the @#$% do you get a good grip on the bar, pull your elbows into your sides and still manage to keep your wrists reasonably straight? I can do the first two but it irritates my elbows a ton after a couple of weeks.

In my case I think I’ve narrowed it down to shoulder mobility, but I have zero idea how to fix it because I’ve never considered shoulder health or mobility to be a problem - due to the fact that in terms of overhead and side to side I can do just about whatever I like with my shoulders.

I may be wrong, but I’d be grateful for any input. At the moment I do most of my squatting with a safety bar to save my elbows but I’d like to be able to straight bar squat more.

If it helps, this is my latest meet. It’s about the best angled squat video I have to see my wrists.

Any advice would be massively appreciated.


surgery both shoulders my hands go all the way out to the plates,
after the second shoulder got done it was painful to squat,
i used narrow grip pullups ,with dead hang stretch at bottom helped alot
hands still go to the plates but dont hurt no more


What grip? Palms facing away from me wrecks my elbows too, neutral grip is just about OK.


Donnie Thompson does some cool stuff with bands to get his shoulders more mobile.

Your gym looks loaded. Do you have any cambered bars in there? You have to get your arms in kinda the same position as a squat, only not as far back. You may be able to “bridge the gap” between the SSB and the straight bar, with a bar somewhere in between.

I was checking out a Mike Boyle article a couple weeks ago. He said that if the shoulders weren’t “mobile,” the back would arch hard to pick up the slack, to allow the arms to get in position. This could throw your positioning for a squat all to shit. So, I don’t think you’re crazy for thinking about this stuff.


There used to be a spider bar, but it disappeared. I’m considering holding the SSB on the camber which I’ve done a couple of times before.

Thanks for the Super D suggestion, I hadn’t thought of that.

Not sure if my back is compensating, I don’t think I arch much really. Worth looking into though.


Have you tried a thumbless grip?


Yes. It helps the wrist cocking but really reduces how well I can squeeze the bar and get my upper back right.


I understand. I had a similar issue and switched to thumbless is why I asked. It took a while to figure out how to get my back tight again.

This video by Paul Carter made me rethink my grip. It really helped my squat and the shoulder/elbow pain I was getting.


I use thumbless and pinky under the bar. works like a charm


I’ve been using that previously but I’m going to revisit it, especially the thumbless part.


Here’s my most recent squat training. I tried the grip from Paul Carter’s video and it really didn’t feel good. Seems like at the moment I need to hold the bat. Horrible to see that much buttwink, my excuse is being sick and focussing so much on my upper back and arms. Crappy excuse.


Your elbows are pointing way to far back, you have to try and keep them pointing more towards the ground… It will take the stress off your elbows, hope that helps… Also butt wink didn’t look too bad, but you may be breaking at your knees before your hips causing you to decend a bit weird


If only that were true. Pointing the damn things at the ground is what got me into the mess they’re in. I’ll settle for in like with my torso.


But, on a positive note Paul Carter’s video is helping because I finally figured out how to tighten my upper back without putting pressure on my elbows. Still a work in progress, but it’s coming along, and elbows are still pain free.

Last squat session topping out at 8x418 lbs and this time I kept my butt under better control.