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How To: High Bar Squats

High Bar Squats are the most basic form of squats, and those who include high bar squats into their lifting routine can experience a number of physical benefits including stronger hamstrings and quads, and better core strength.

Generally, you will find weightlifters, CrossFit® athletes, physique and figure training participants, recreational lifters, and personal trainers working with clients using high bar squats in their routines. When performing a  high bar squat, the lifter will place the bar on top of their shoulder, just below the C-7 vertebrate. A great way to think of the placement is that the lifter is creating a shelf for the bar with their traps.

Starting Set-up

    • Grasp the bar with a closed, pronated grip (actual width depends on the bar position).
    • Step under the bar and place the bar in a balanced position on the upper back and shoulders
      • High bar position—above the posterior deltoids at the base of the neck (using a handgrip only slightly wider than shoulder width
    • Push bar upward from squat rack stands and take one step backward
    • Position the feet accordingly
      • The width of foot stance will vary depending on torso/leg length ratio
  • With a shoulder width or wider stance always ensure the feet are in line with where the kneecaps are pointing
    • Rotate the elbows FORWARD to lift the chest up and out.
  • Elbows are vertically aligned with hands
  • Elbows stay aligned with the hands throughout both the entire movement
  • Head looking straight ahead

High Bar Squats Set-up

Figure 4

Downward Movement Phase

  • Maintain a position with the back flat, elbows and hands aligned to keep chest up during the entire descent phase
  • Allow the hips and knees to slowly flex while keeping the torso-to-floor angle relatively constant.
  • Keep the heels on the floor and the knees aligned over or slightly forward of the toes.(6B)
  • Kneecaps and feet stay aligned (6A)

                                                                            Figure 6A                                                     Figure 6B

  • Continue flexing the hips and knees until the thighs are parallel or below parallel to the floor
    • The trunk should NOT round or flex forward
    • The heels stay on the floor
    • Pelvis should maintain a NEUTRAL position and not tucked under (posterior tilt).
  • Elbows should continue to be aligned  vertically with the hands
  • Kneecaps and feet still aligned (7A)
  • The external line of force should drop straight down from the bar making a straight line through the mid to back 2/3 of the foot (7B)
    • The external line of force should be between the hip and knee joints (7B)
      • Moments arms on the hip and knee  joints

                                                                 Figure 7A                                                                                         Figure 7B

Upward Movement Phase

  • Maintain a flat back; maintain elbow/hand vertical alignment and the chest up and out.
  • Extend the hips and knees at the same rate (to keep the torso-to-floor angle constant).
    • Hips and shoulders rise at the same rate
  • Keep the heels on the floor and the knees aligned accordingly.
  • Do not flex the torso forward or round the back.

                                                                 Figure 8A                                                                                        Figure 8B


Finishing Position

  • Continue extending the hips and knees to reach the initial starting (finish position).

                                                               Figure 9A                                                                                           Figure 9B