T Nation

Squat vs Shoulders


I now have access to a squat rack... Of course, as soon as I got near it, I tested my squat 1RM (it's ~70% of my DL 1 RM...wonder if the percentage would be the same if I could DL 660 instead of 330...). And, I also discovered that if I keep the bar low on my back (PL style), my shoulders don't like it one bit.
Is there a technique or hand placement or should the elbows point in a certain direction etc. in order to not have shoulder pain, or is it just a matter of getting used to it?

My shoulder flexibility and mobility are somewhere between good and great (all those chins were good for something...)...
My rotation ROM: scapula held just by muscles: ~120 degrees . Scapula stabilized: ~170 degrees. (symmetrical in both shoulders)

Couldn't overhead press for the last 7 or so years, because I'd always get pain after a few sessions, if not in the same session. Did a few higher rep sets today: ~8 reps/set, and now I'll wait to see if it no longer causes pain.
Shoulders crackle and feel weird during bench pressing (despite being able to row a bit more than my BP 1RM, and being able to chin about 50% more). And a few years ago, hurt like sheet during BP.
Also hurt during heavy dips.

Thank you very much,


how low are you talking about here? i thought the bar was supposed to rest in the groove right below your traps.


I'll take a pic.


unless you want to be a powerlifter I would recommend doing high bar squats.

Can't help you with what you are asking though, sorry.


Yeah, I'm kinda confused as to what the real problematic issue is.

You say your shoulders are pretty healthy, but they hurt when you do a particular exercise variation. Am I retarded if I suggest simply not doing that exercise variation?

If that's not an option for whatever reason, maybe look into picking up a Top Squat handle.


Today it didn't hurt... I made sure to keep it on my rear delts, and not lower. Maybe this is it.
(80x5)x3 was perfectly ok... I might just start squatting regularly.

Could you tell me if I'm holding the barbell as I should?

As a note: I want to compete in powerlifting; probably, it'll be at least two years from now, when my DL will, hopefully, be around 550 @ 182.5, and my squat at at least 440.
(sorry, the first vid is playing very fast)

Also, thanks for the answers.


Getting comfortable squatting low bar takes time. The advice I was given was to use a thumbless grip on warm up sets (you can usually get the bar a little lower with a thumbless grip) and to do wrist stretching before, after, and during squatting. Its a process, but anyone with fairly healthy shoulders should be good to go after a few weeks.

As far as general technique goes, make sure to really retract your scapulae to make a shelf for the bar and to bring your hands in as close together as comfortable.


Thank you very much, jga

Anyway, I'm starting to think it hurt last time because I was supporting it with my arms, not on my rear delts.


Elbows down, pretend that you're gonna do a behind the neck press.


I kept my elbows as back as possible in order to be able to rack the bar on my rear delts. Is that wrong?


If you must you must, but keeping them down should help you keep your chest up when the weights get heavy, and it should put less stress on your shoulders since they won't be as stretched.

If keeping the bar in place is an issue, add more meat to your back.


I try to make a conscious effort to keep my elbows pointing down & avoid chicken-winging them back; I find that it helps me keep a tighter, more erect chest posture.

Here is a decent link worth reading along with checking out the book Starting Strength:



Thanks for the info. As I said, it didn't hurt yesterday.
Jaybvee, thanks for the link.