Difference between High Bar and Low Bar Squats

Squat variations are common in training programs. But most athletes aren’t aware of the purpose behind these variations. Two of these alternative patterns include the low bar and the high bar squat.

So what’s the difference between the two?

High Bar 

  • Setup: Create a shelf on your upper back by drawing your shoulder blades together and driving elbows down towards torso. During a high bar squat you can maintain a slightly more upright torso position, allowing the knees to translate further over the toes.  There is a longer moment arm at the knee in this position which increases the force on the knee joint. All these factors allow for more quad recruitment compared to a low bar position.
  • The Benefits of High Bar: 
    • Less mobility required.
    • Often easier to achieve/ understand for beginners.
    • Better to achieve for those with long femurs relative to their torso (front squats are even more suitable for this demographic).

Low Bar

  • Setup: Create a shelf through your upper back muscles. Use this shelf and rear deltoids to anchor the bar in place. The athlete will need to lean their torso forward more, creating a greater moment arm at the hips compared to the high bar. This will cause greater recruitment of the posterior chain (including the glutes). This is often why people can lift heavier with a low bar squat. 
  • The Benefits of High Bar: 
    • Most individuals can lift heavier with this due to more posterior engagement. 
  • The limitations: 
    • Those with long femurs relative to torso length will struggle more with this position due to naturally leaning forward to be able to squat comfortably. 
    • It requires greater shoulder mobility.
    • Can take longer to master.
    • Requires greater torso control to stabilize. 
Chantelle Bailey  – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Chantelle Bailey – BeFit Training Physio Double Bay

Chantelle Bailey, a skilled physiotherapist in Double Bay, Sydney, excels in treating musculoskeletal issues through personalized assessments and evidence-based rehabilitation programs. With expertise in strength coaching for women and a special emphasis on sports-related injuries, Chantelle offers tailored solutions to help individuals achieve their goals. To schedule a consultation, click the link below.

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