High Bar Vs Low Bar Squat

High Bar Vs Low Bar Squat Exercise

High Bar Vs Low Bar Squat is a decision that depends on what your goals are.

Both variations of the standard Barbell Squat primarily builds the quadriceps muscles, hamstrings and the gluteus muscles.

Both squat variations also activate the core muscles which help stabilise the upper body and support the lower back.

You can carry more weight with the Low Bar Squat compared to the High Bar Squat because the forward lean caused by the low bar positioning generates more equal distribution of weight between the quadriceps, gluteus and hamstring muscles.

Also the shorter distance between the bar, the hips and knees at the bottom position plus the wider stance allows you to generate greater torque.

With the High Bar Squat, the slightly upright position of the upper body causes most of the weight to be carried by the quadriceps.

The longer distance between the bar, the hips and the knees at the bottom position plus the closer stance contributes lesser torque.

If you are trying to build greater leg and hip strength for sports like football, rugby, basketball and sprints, you should focus more on the Low Bar Squat.

However, if you are involved with sports that require more upright positions and sports that require stronger quadriceps involvement such as distance running, the High Bar Squat should be your choice.

The best approach would be to combine both variations in your training. A Squat program usually takes 14 weeks.

You can start out with the High Bar Squat for the first 7 weeks then shift to the Low Bar Squat for the second leg of the program.

High Bar Squat How To

  • Set up a barbell on the squat rack.
  • Go under the barbell and position it on your upper traps. Your grip should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Adapt a shoulder- width stance and angle your feet slightly outward. Your heels should be in line with the bar and your lower back.
  • Stick your chest out and tighten your core then un- rack the weight.
  • Take one step back; assume the same stance and position before you un- racked the weight.
  • Inhale then begin the squat by bending at the hips. Descend under control and keep your lower back tight throughout the movement.
  • You are at the bottom position of the squat once the top of your thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Once you are at the bottom position, exhale then squat up. Maintain the same bar path as the descent.
  • At the top position, make sure you maintain your form before repeating the movement.
  • Repeat the movement until you have completed the targeted number of reps.

Low Bar Squat How To

  • Set up a barbell on the squat rack.
  • Go under the barbell and position it below your traps and on top of your shoulders. Your grip should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Adapt a wider than shoulder- width stance and angle your feet slightly outward. Your heels should be in line with the bar and your lower back.
  • Stick your chest out and tighten your core then un- rack the weight.
  • Take one step back; assume the same stance and position before you un- racked the weight.
  • Inhale then begin the squat by bending at the hips. Descend under control and keep your lower back tight throughout the movement.
  • You are at the bottom position of the squat once the top of your thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Once you are at the bottom position, exhale then squat up. Maintain the same bar path as the descent.
  • At the top position, make sure you maintain your form before repeating the movement.
  • Repeat the movement until you have completed the targeted number of reps.

Form and Technique

There are 3 rules in both squat variations to avoid knee injuries. First, initiate either squat by bending at the hips not at the knees.

Second, your feet should be angled slightly outward to minimise shearing forces on your knees.

Finally, there are less shearing forces on the knees with a deep squat than a mid-level squat because the weight is distributed move evenly to your glutes and hamstrings at a parallel or below parallel position.

You can either look straight ahead or focus on a spot on the ground when you squat.

The important thing is to maintain balance at all times. At the descent the weight will mostly be on your back foot.

As you squat up, the weight will transfer toward the ball of your feet. This is why some people wear weightlifting shoes with a heel or place small barbell plates at their heels.

If you have tight hips and hamstrings, it would be a good idea to use the heeled shoes or the one kilo plates to elevate your heels.

Variations: Front Barbell Squat

Routine for Strength: 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Routine for Muscle Gains: 4-5 sets x 6-8 reps

High Bar vs Low Bar Squat