Benefits Of The Safety Bar Squat That Are Overlooked
I am a big fan of the Safety Squat Bar, and I actually wrote a whole article on its 4 primary benefits over on @powerliftingtechinque. These primary benefits included allowing shoulder mobility to be a non-factor, naturally creating a more neutral pelvic orientation, having a self limiting affect, and it can be used to address certain movement/muscle weaknesses in the squat. But I wanted to cover a bit more of the lesser known benefits of the SSB, much like I did with pause squats in a post last December. There are some very specific things with the SSB that provides high benefits that most other squat variants just cannot replicate.
1.) For those proficient with the SSB, one of the things most people come to realize is how much less they have to cue certain patterns in their squat. The SSB tends to naturally create a more neutral pelvic position, it creates a forward weight bias that results in a natural forward torso lean as you descend, and it greatly simplifies your setup and bracing. There is no need for a complex setup and bracing routine, as outside of inhaling to create intra-abdominal pressure, it kind of just takes care of the rest. So when an athlete gets proficient with an SSB, they get to go on auto-pilot a bit more. Less overthinking and more squatting. For me in particular, when I use a SSB really the only thing I am thinking about is foot pressure. I find my mid-foot, I find medial pressure side to side, and I descend into that almost like the floor is a leg press platform. That “leg press” platform is lowering towards me as I descend, and then at the bottom I push it away through my feet. What the rest of my body does tends to take care of itself, so now I can worry more about that direct connection to the floor and really simplify my squat pattern.
2.) 9 times out of 10 hip flexor pain is related to anterior pelvic orientation creating less room for femoral range of motion within the hip, creating this “pinching” in the front of the hip and causing hip flexor pain. And 9 times out of 10 the way to fix this is to improve pelvic orientation, which is easier said than done. A very common tool I use in these instances when hip flexor pain flare ups occur is increasing SSB frequency. Now if an athlete is struggling with pelvic orientation on a low bar squat, we need to fix that. But if the pain is bad enough that they can’t low bar squat, we will SSB instead, as the SSB naturally tends to create a more neutral pelvic orientation as I have mentioned. But probably more common than just completely taking out low bar squats, is that I will leave low bar squat in the program on a secondary or tertiary day. This allows technique to be continued to be worked on, while we use the SSB to drive intensity and volume on other days. I have found time and time again that this allows that hip flexor pain to decrease due to the improved positioning the SSB creates, yet never once did we have to lower volume or relative intensity to achieve that.
3.) If you watched my video on YouTube “Understanding Hip Shift In The Squat”, you will understand that sometimes what the lower body does is a compensatory action to positioning errors with the shoulders. If we lack shoulder mobility on one specific side, this could create a chain reaction downwards, resulting in a hip shift. Well how can we know for sure with someone that shoulder mobility is the cause? Have them squat with a Safety Bar. This takes shoulder mobility out of the equation and allows us to see instead what the lower body does without the tug and pull of the shoulders/upper body. If we see a noticeable improvement with the hip shift, we can have a higher degree of confidence the shift on a low bar squat stems from asymmetrical shoulder mobility. And if this hip shift is correlating to any type of pain, then much like point number 2, we can continue to push intensity and volume on SSB while working on low bar technique during a secondary or tertiary day.