There Isn’t Much Difference Between A Low Bar vs. High Bar Squat

Something I’ve alluded to in past posts and videos, and many times it has more so been in the form of response to a comment, is how I believe low bar vs. high bar squats are not as different as it seems. In my opinion, a squat is a squat, and the general movement and cueing is fairly similar, just the weight distribution then changes how we bias our movement to counter balance that load. From a goblet squat, to a front squat, to a SSB squat, to a high bar squat, and to a low bar squat, the same foundational aspect of the squat pattern applies. But with the more anterior vs. posterior loading, we will need to make slight adjustments in our hip and knee flexion to counter balance that weight distribution to manage our center of mass accordingly. But while there is this difference in knee vs. hip flexion, it’s more so the bi-product of the weight distribution and counter balance versus the lifter cueing the movement in an entirely different manner. What I am not saying is a high bar squat and a low bar squat should look exactly the same, but what I am saying is that for the majority of people, the thought process and cueing between the two should not differ much at all.

In the linked video (CLICK HERE) we have @colette.hd performing a high bar squat vs. a low bar squat. It is noticeable there is a difference between the two, but if you scroll over to the second picture you will see where my point more comes into play. On the far right is the bottom position when the squat is biased more into the posterior chain dominant, hinge based squat that is often encouraged for low bar squatting. As can be seen, between the high bar and low bar squat on the left and middle, there already is a fairly noticeable difference, and that was simply from the 2 inch change or so in weight distribution and placement of the bar on the back. When we then take that weight distribution change, overbias hinging, we then tend to find ourselves in this folded and over hinged position that is breaking the foundations of the squat pattern at its base level. Are the exceptions to this rule? Yes, just like there is with pretty much everything I will ever say. I actually have 2 lifters in particular that we do cue their low bar differently than their high bar, but that is based on their individual leverages dictating that requirement. But for 90%+ of people I have coached and trained over the last 12 years, this thought process applies.

And this can go the opposite way too. If you are trying to “squatty-squat” your goblet squats and trying to translate that to a low bar squat, it probably isn’t going to go well. As in my opinion, at least in the application to powerlifting, a “squatty-squat” does not fall into the foundational pattern we are trying to replicate throughout varying loading strategies that is competition specific, but is rather of a form training variability. Is there a time and a place for more hinge based movements or knee flexion dominant patterns, yes. But in regards to how we cue and manage our foundational squat pattern that applies across a range of loading strategies, this should be pretty similar and allow ourselves to simply adjust based on the counter balance demands. If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably have a good understanding of the foundational elements in how I teach and cue a squat. But if not, I’ll include a link below to the in depth squat breakdown video I have on YouTube.

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