Any weightlifting enthusiasts here?

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@lu: I’m talking training in the context of weightlifting. You should squat with a high bar position and squat straight down with an upright posture. Squatting with a low bar position with a forward bend and vertical shin like powerlifters has little transfer to weightlifting.

Yes, if you have a low bar position, you will bend forward. Again I’m talking in the context of weightlifting here not powerlifting or general fitness. I agree for general fitness bar position, a lot of times, are very individual and preference.

If anyone’s confused about the terminology, weightlifting refers to the sport of olympic weightlifting where there are 2 lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk.  Powerlifting refers to the sport of powerlifting where there are 3 lifts: deadlift, squat, and bench press.

 
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Here’s the beast, Lu Xiaojun doing back squat, front squat, snatch, and squat jerk.


 
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skip11 - 29 October 2015 01:38 PM

@lu: I’m talking training in the context of weightlifting. You should squat with a high bar position and squat straight down with an upright posture. Squatting with a low bar position with a forward bend and vertical shin like powerlifters has little transfer to weightlifting.

Yes, if you have a low bar position, you will bend forward. Again I’m talking in the context of weightlifting here not powerlifting or general fitness. I agree for general fitness bar position, a lot of times, are very individual and preference.

If anyone’s confused about the terminology, weightlifting refers to the sport of olympic weightlifting where there are 2 lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk.  Powerlifting refers to the sport of powerlifting where there are 3 lifts: deadlift, squat, and bench press.

For the most part Rico, it’s semantics. If we put it into a snowboarding analogy, you don’t straight away tell someone who knows a bit about snowboarding and has done it a bit, can link turns etc, to get the same board as you/snowboard olympian/half pipe champ etc. Everyone is different, has different ‘snowboarding’ goals, and has a completely unique body, size and ability.

And surely you don’t believe that “squatting with a low bar position with a forward bend and vertical shin like powerlifters has little transfer to weightlifting”? You’re engaging the same major muscle groups, so any kind of squat will help condition strength, which transfers to easier adoption of correct lifting technique.

My advice is to work on your own progression based on your actual real goals, and what your personal physiological make up can bear. Appreciate the pictures of the olympic lifter you posted, but that has little to no relevance in this instance…a quick look at that guy says two things to me: A) he’s 5’6. Andy is what, 6’4? B) that lifter CLEARLY has a much longer torso to leg ratio. That may not be the case for Andy.

I would say for the majority of people doing it somewhat ‘leisurely’, and not to compete. Of those, most would come to it with a background of lifting weights.

 
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Some great discussion’s come out of this thread, nice one guys.

I’d just like to add that whilst you certainly can train your squat position to an extend, your individual anatomy and biomechanics will ultimately decide what’s best for you. You can do mobility drills all day long, if your hip structure isn’t conducive to a deep, upright squat, it’ll never happen for you. Basically you’ll reach the point of hip impingement and can’t go any further, and this is decided by the depth and angle that the head of your femur articulates with your pelvis.

That said, if you can’t do a deep, vertical torso high bar squat, front squats have far more carry over to weightlifting anyway, and you can certainly still back squat more like a powerlifter and help build up those muscles. It won’t be weightlifting specific, but that’s what accessory exercises are there for.

Speed and explosiveness is huge in weightlifting, and partly why I believe I kinda suck at it haha. I’m not an explosive lifter, despite having tried many ways to improve that component. My best deadlift is 260kg, back squat 220kg, front squat 160kg. My best power clean? A measly (comparatively) 110kg. It’s the worst ratio I’ve come across, and even the oly lifters that I used to train alongside couldn’t figure out why, aside from me simply being too slow.

When you’re largely doing it for fun, none of that really matters. As long as you understand your own limitations (and advantages!) and don’t beat yourself up for things you ultimately don’t have much control over, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience and brings positives across so many other aspects of your life. Training taught me a level of discipline I never thought I’d have, and my parents definitely never thought I’d have haha, I was a little shit growing up! smile

 
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And surely you don’t believe that “squatting with a low bar position with a forward bend and vertical shin like powerlifters has little transfer to weightlifting”? You’re engaging the same major muscle groups, so any kind of squat will help condition strength, which transfers to easier adoption of correct lifting technique.

Sure, it will transfer some strength especially if you’re relatively untrained. Yes it engages the same major muscle group but the movement pattern and muscular recruitment is different. Both squats develops general strength in the legs (quads, glutes, hams) but the high bar squat is more “specific” because of the angles of the ankle, knee, and back is more similar to that of the lifts.
The hip, knee, and back angles, along with the bar position of the high bar squat has better carry over to the snatch and clean and jerk. High bar also recruits the quads more which is essential in weightlifting. You cannot ignore movement pattern and muscular recruitment even though both squats essentially work the same muscle groups.

And it’s not just semantics Lu. I’m not just saying this out of nowhere. Almost every weightlifting coach, will not employ the low bar back squat as part of their athlete’s training cycle. Find me an olympic weightlifter that does low bar back squat or an weightlifting coach that recommends the low bar squat.

I totally agree with you for anyone who just started squatting, by all means find whatever bar position you find most comfortable. But if you want to start seriously weightlifting and be decently good at it, you should start high bar/Olympic squatting. If after months of mobility exercises and you still can’t achieve full depth maybe weightlifting is not for you. Not everyone is made to squat ass to grass.


Greg Everett’s book http://www.amazon.com/Olympic-Weightlifting-Complete-Athletes-Coaches/dp/0980011116 goes into detail on the squat.

A quote by Greg from this page http://www.catalystathletics.com/article/1753/Dumb-Weightlifting-Questions/

“Why do weighlifting coaches hate the low bar back squat though powerlifting gurus (Louie Simmons) swear by it?
That’s like asking why baseball players don’t use footballs.”

And just to clear any confusion, low bar squat = bar is resting on the rear delt.

Here’s a 6’6” lifter

 
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That said, if you can’t do a deep, vertical torso high bar squat, front squats have far more carry over to weightlifting anyway

High bar squat is easier than the front squat. If you can’t high bar squat, most likely you can’t front squat. Front squat has an even more vertical back angle than the high bar squat, need more core and back strength to maintain that vertical torso and prevent it from collapsing forward, not to mention lats, tricep, and wrist flexibility to get those elbows up.

 

 
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skip11 - 29 October 2015 05:15 PM

That said, if you can’t do a deep, vertical torso high bar squat, front squats have far more carry over to weightlifting anyway

High bar squat is easier than the front squat. If you can’t high bar squat, most likely you can’t front squat. Front squat has an even more vertical back angle than the high bar squat, need more core and back strength to maintain that vertical torso and prevent it from collapsing forward, not to mention lats, tricep, and wrist flexibility to get those elbows up.

 

I completely disagree. I never had trouble teaching able bodied clients to front squat with acceptable depth and torso angle. High bar back squat on the other hand was an issue for many, and it comes down to leverage and balance. Where the bar is affects your balance hugely. Trying to keep a super upright torso with the weight across your traps, unless you have the mobility to really drive your knees out and forwards, keeping balance in that position is incredibly tough. However when you have the weight across your front delts, suddenly you can drop your ass further and keep your torso more upright, because that counter-weight is there helping keep you balanced.

I agree that it requires more back strength and upper body flexibility to perform a good front squat, but that wasn’t my point, I was talking about hip anatomy. I also believe the front squat has far more carry over to the Snatch and C+J than a high bar squat ever could. No coach is using the high bar squat to cue technique and positioning, for that they use the competition lifts. The high bar squat is a strength movement, so if you can’t hit a good position, a lower bar position with more forward lean is an acceptable substitute. Of course trying to stay as upright as one can, but everyone has their limitations there.

I’ve also never seen proof of a significant difference in leg muscle activation between different squat styles. Squats build leg strength, the position you have the bar in means very little in regards to specific muscle activation, and matters far more in the actual torque required at each joint to successfully lift the weight. Which is why almost everyone can Low bar squat the most, then high bar, and then front squat. Leverages, not muscle activation.

 
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I also believe the front squat has far more carry over to the Snatch and C+J than a high bar squat ever could.

100% agree.

However when you have the weight across your front delts, suddenly you can drop your ass further and keep your torso more upright, because that counter-weight is there helping keep you balanced.

Sure but how many people can maintian that netural/slightly extended thoracic spine when the weight gets heavy?

. High bar back squat on the other hand was an issue for many, and it comes down to leverage and balance. Where the bar is affects your balance hugely. Trying to keep a super upright torso with the weight across your traps, unless you have the mobility to really drive your knees out and forwards, keeping balance in that position is incredibly tough.

I’m not saying you should be perfectly upright like in a front squat, but it is highly unlikely for you to be upright when you put the bar on the rear delts.

The high bar squat is a strength movement, so if you can’t hit a good position, a lower bar position with more forward lean is an acceptable substitute. Of course trying to stay as upright as one can, but everyone has their limitations there.

Agree in that it is a strength movement. But with a low bar position which is on the rear delts (ala Mark Rippetoe), you cannot maintain an upright torso because the bar will fall down. Hence people who low bar squat have a forward torso angle which perfectly fine.

No coach is using the high bar squat to cue technique and positioning, for that they use the competition lifts.

I never said they did. I said the ankle, knee, and hip angles are more close to the actual lifts than the low bar squat.

Squats build leg strength, the position you have the bar in means very little in regards to specific muscle activation, and matters far more in the actual torque required at each joint to successfully lift the weight. Which is why almost everyone can Low bar squat the most, then high bar, and then front squat. Leverages, not muscle activation.

Lol, the position of the bar means a lot in regards to muscle activation. If you never felt any difference between a low bar, high bar, and front squat, you’re doing something wrong. Low bar squat recruits the posterior chain more than a high bar or front squat. Quad strength is paramount in weightlifting because you’re driving the weight up. Front squat and high bar squat recruits the quads more.

If you guys don’t believe me, go to any WL coach or lifter and ask him/her why they don’t do low bar back squats.

Again, I repeat, I’m talking in the contest of weightlifting and training for weightlifting not general fitness.

low bar
[imghttps://www.t-nation.com/system/publishing/article_assets/1289/original/Figure1.jpg?ts=1420244818][/img]

high bar

 
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lulu_in_canada - 28 October 2015 04:54 AM

If you’ve never trained your major lifts - heavy squats, deads, BP & OHP (body pump doesn’t count), I’d start by working on your foundations of good techniques under weight and then build from there.

Anyway, that’s my 0.02c worth!

My reference points are mainly stemming from the above. No matter which area of ‘lifting’ you want to go into (powerlifting, olympic lifting, bodybuilding, physique, weight loss etc), developing strong foundations in all major lifts (which engage ALL major muscles/groups) is the best place to start.

Again, I repeat, I’m talking in the contest of weightlifting and training for weightlifting not general fitness.

In terms of high/back bar placement in a squat, I will agree (and as I stated first) that a front squat will translate way more to oly lifting. My point with back squats as you’re building strength and size (needed for any kind of power/olympic based technique), is to do so in a way that is the safest and most ergonomically correct based on your own body structure. Irrespective of your height, this might mean that due to individual body composition, you will need to utilize a low bar squat to ensure spine neutrality and avoid injuries. I personally follow a quite number of power/oly lifting competitors and each have spoken at length about their own individual techniques and why they have transitioned/gone back between a high and low bar lift.

That is MY point.

I’ll never get on the interwebs and tell ANYONE how they should do anything (especially something that can be so detrimental to ones health if done incorrectly). In this case, to flat out tell someone to do a high bar squat, can create serious injury.

All along I’ve said: see a professional and get their advice.

Lol, the position of the bar means a lot in regards to muscle activation. If you never felt any difference between a low bar, high bar, and front squat, you’re doing something wrong. Low bar squat recruits the posterior chain more than a high bar or front squat. Quad strength is paramount in weightlifting because you’re driving the weight up. Front squat and high bar squat recruits the quads more.

Careful about sounding condescending there, please.

I wholeheartedly agree that the position of the bar means a lot in regards to muscle activation. +1 for that comment…however it is only relevant if you are experienced enough to understand all of the nuances with lifts. Most people don’t even get the concept of muscle activation/mind to muscle connection/correctly bracing & preparing/breathing techniques before each rep. Like I’ve stated earlier, I’ve trained a pretty long time and with a number of people well regarded & respected in the industry back home, so I know my way around muscle groups and activation from a PERSONAL and anecdotal perspective, based on science and expert direction.

If you guys don’t believe me, go to any WL coach or lifter and ask him/her why they don’t do low bar back squats.

This is silly. I could ask a professional snowboarder why they use a particular snowboard stance, too. But A) their stance isn’t necessarily relevant to me and B) they haven’t seen me ride, or have correctly assessed my body type and structure either.

I think it’s irrelevant what kind of squat technique you do if you are different to me. Anyone can do a high bar squat, or a front squat. Are they all doing it correctly? Probs not! Could they improve the quality of the lift and protect themselves from injury by adopting a slightly different stance, bar position, using different equipment? Yes, absolutely!

Physically speaking for me, I’ve always been advised to lift with a high bar because it fits my body. It took me a good couple of years lifting with dedication to really understand every element of each lift (not just a squat).  I’ve only been doing front squats for about 5 years. Can I tell the difference in muscle activation? Absolutely yes. I’ve never dedicated time to squatting with a low bar for a number of reasons, but mainly - my body structure wouldn’t bear it. As I’ve got a long torso, the bar would affect my spine neutrality and performance of the correct movement.

How much experience do you have with lifting weight in general, in comparison to oly technique lifting? I’d say a reputable coach would want to understand and see you have foundations and experience with weight bearing under any kind of lifting technique.

I don’t understand why anyone would recommend to someone else, to undertake any serious activity without seeing their movements on what are considered the major lifts, which in turn teach people basic muscle activation recognition…

 
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skip11 - 29 October 2015 07:03 PM

 

The high bar squat is a strength movement, so if you can’t hit a good position, a lower bar position with more forward lean is an acceptable substitute. Of course trying to stay as upright as one can, but everyone has their limitations there.

Agree in that it is a strength movement. But with a low bar position which is on the rear delts (ala Mark Rippetoe), you cannot maintain an upright torso because the bar will fall down. Hence people who low bar squat have a forward torso angle which perfectly fine.

 

 

A more forward torso angle yes, but it doesn’t have to be as far forward as Rippetoe coaches.

Here’s mine, low bar position and relatively upright torso.

skip11 - 29 October 2015 07:03 PM

I’ve also never seen proof of a significant difference in leg muscle activation between different squat styles. Squats build leg strength, the position you have the bar in means very little in regards to specific muscle activation, and matters far more in the actual torque required at each joint to successfully lift the weight. Which is why almost everyone can Low bar squat the most, then high bar, and then front squat. Leverages, not muscle activation.

Lol, the position of the bar means a lot in regards to muscle activation. If you never felt any difference between a low bar, high bar, and front squat, you’re doing something wrong. Low bar squat recruits the posterior chain more than a high bar or front squat. Quad strength is paramount in weightlifting because you’re driving the weight up. Front squat and high bar squat recruits the quads more.

 

You missed out my first sentence of that paragraph, so I’ve put it back in bold, because it’s important.
What you ‘feel’ and what’s actually happening can be two very different things. When I say proof, I mean empirical, scientific, evidence. EMG studies for example. If you have any, I’d love to see it. Because I’ve got a 4 year Exercise Science degree, and never came across a decent study proving a significant difference in muscle activation across the quads, glutes, or hamstrings between different squat styles. So like I said, want to build bigger and stronger legs, squat. It doesn’t matter how. Want to work on correcting weaknesses in regards to specific positioning during certain lifts? Then we can get into what type of squat or variation is best suited to fixing that very specific problem at that specific position. Until that’s the focus, arguing about what squat is best is pointless.

I don’t see any point continuing this argument, it’s getting well off track now. The point I was originally trying to get across is that if you can’t high bar squat with good form, it’s not the end of the world. It’s a tough lift to nail, harder in my opinion than low bar or front squats. Substituting with low bar and front squats will work just fine. If any Olympic weightlifting is spending any real energy arguing which squat is best for their sport, they should stop right there and go and practice the Snatch and C+J, because those are the lifts that actually matter for them. The rest is all accessory work to build strength and correct weakness/imbalances, of which the high bar squat is one of many, many options.

 

 
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Phedder - 30 October 2015 03:57 PM

I don’t see any point continuing this argument, it’s getting well off track now. The point I was originally trying to get across is that if you can’t high bar squat with good form, it’s not the end of the world. It’s a tough lift to nail, harder in my opinion than low bar or front squats. Substituting with low bar and front squats will work just fine. If any Olympic weightlifting is spending any real energy arguing which squat is best for their sport, they should stop right there and go and practice the Snatch and C+J, because those are the lifts that actually matter for them. The rest is all accessory work to build strength and correct weakness/imbalances, of which the high bar squat is one of many, many options.

I whole heartedly agree, Phedder. I suppose you’ve put my thoughts a bit more succinctly!

If lifting in any kind of form were easy and simple to ‘nail’, then everyone would be doing it. Although I argue everyone should be doing it wink

Nice work on the squat though - what is that, 225kg?!  muscle

 
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Phedder - 30 October 2015 03:57 PM

 

Also Phedder - correct me if I’m wrong (and I concede it might just be the shot/camera angle), but would you say you have longer legs to torso ratio? Hence why your body might respond better to a low bar squat?

It just looks that way in the pic grin

 
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Thanks Lulu, 205kg in that pic I think? Never got to 225kg unfortunately, injured myself 2 weeks before my last comp before snowboarding took over my life so never took it for a ride! 

And good spotting, slightly longer legs yeah. 6’1 and a 34 inch inseam. High bar never ‘clicked’ for me, I could never maintain the right positioning and get deep enough, or was always one or the other hah. Actually my best high bar was only 10kg more than my best front squat!

Do you see yourself competing again?

 

Last year I recovered from injury and start gym again. My coach, advise me to start with light weights first because of spinal cord injury. That happened in 2015 weightlifting competition suddenly crack down sound comes from knee and elbow too. It’s a bit harder for me to walk to the gym and start my life again, but still I am doing with whole strength and will power. I love to read about you and I must say you inspired me a lot.