The basic principles of the low-bar squat is that your placing the bar lower on your back (hence the name) and your moving in a more bent-over position that relies heavily on the posterior chain.

I’m not going to get into optimal angles at the hip and knee, or how to create external rotation at the hip for optimal glute activation. I just want to give you the basic points on how to perform the movement, to allow anyone to start performing it correctly.

Now…the points that I do cover are all typical when performing this type of squat, everyone has different mechanics and leverages and therefore the ideal position to squat in will vary from person to person.

Hand Placement

When it comes to hand placement there is two important factors that you should ensure don’t happen. Firstly you don’t want flexion at the wrist, if you are squatting low-bar, even with a light load on your back and your wrists are bent, then there is a high chance of developing Tendonitis in the wrists and elbows, simply because your arms are then taking some of the weight of the bar. Your hands should be placed almost over the bar and pulling the bar into you, not pushing it upwards. I also recommend a thumbless grip as this will help prevent wrist flexion.

The second thing is grip width, this is entirely dependant on the individuals shoulder mobility and what feels comfortable. The narrower you can get your hands the easier its going to be to create upper-back tightness and keep the bar firmly in place. You want to grip the bar as narrow as possible without it being so tight that its causing you to pitch forward while performing the squat.

When I first started low-bar squatting I would keep a fairly narrow-grip as I had the mobility to do so, although it did feel fairly tight in my shoulders and pecs I could still squat with it. However I decided one day to try it with a wider-grip, what I found was it allowed me to be in a SLIGHTLY more upright position and I could squat faster and more efficiently because I wasn’t being pitched TO FAR forward.

Bar Placement

You want to place the bar so that it is sitting on top of your rear-delts. This is the lowest position your can rest the bar were it wont start to slide down your back. When setting up to position the bar you want to create tightness in your upper back by retracting your shoulder blades and squeezing your traps and rear-delts.

Body angle and Positioning

When performing the squat, you want to maintain a slight forward lean. Even when un-racking the bar and walking it out you want to do so, this will help keep the bar firm on your back and will prevent any unnecessary movement when descending into the squat.

The basic cues I look for when observing the low-bar squat is the following:

- Hips back
– Chest slightly leant forward
– Wide Foot stance
– Knees out

To what degree you do all of the above is again dependant on the individual. What I Suggest for anyone trying to learn this technique is adopt all of the points I have mentioned and try it out and mess around with it for yourself. After time you will learn what positioning works best for you.

What you should feel is less stress on your knees and quads, and feel your hamstrings, glutes and lower back doing most of the work. As well as your upper-back feeling pretty sore from maintaining the bars position.