How To Do High Bar Back Squat Correctly

High Bar Back Squat Technique
Young Woman Performing High Barbell Back Squats - One Of The Best Body Building Exercise For Legs

If you’ve never done barbell squat before, you might be a bit apprehensive about the idea of starting it. Don’t fear! In this article we’re going to tell you all about the techniques and a step-by-step complete guide to do high bar squat properly. But first some facts about squatting:

(i) Squatting Is A Foundational And Functional Human Movement: Our ancestors have been squatting since ancient times. If we ponder over the era of prior to the present modern day furniture and technology time, the people didn’t stop sitting in a full squat when they got older like we do today. But, now as we sit in unnatural positions all day – we tend to forget the correct squat form. As a result, few people engage in high-quality squats on a regular basis in their daily lives, and thus loss of functionality can occur at an early age.

One of the most common squats is eliminating your body wastes. However, the modern toilet has virtually done away with that movement.

(ii) Squats Are A Compound Movement: Squat is a compound movement as it involves movement of more than one joint (your hip and knee joints) to complete. A simple bodyweight squat engages nearly every muscle group in our body. But, if we add a dumbbell or barbell into the equation, it would recruit every single major muscle group to complete.  Just visualize: Besides using your “legs,” you would need your hips, your back and core, your shoulders and arms.  Nothing is left out with this mammoth movement.

(iii) Squats Help Strengthen Both Your Bones And Muscles: They work out not only your leg muscles, but your entire body. When you perform squats properly, you build muscles that help improve your mobility and balance. They also help your muscles work more efficiently, and these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world too.

(iv) Squat Exercise Increases Anabolic Hormone Production: Because of employment of large number of muscle groups, they cause your body to enhance anabolic hormone production, which in turn help you lose fat and gain muscles effectively.

(v) Squats Strengthen Your Knees, Hips And Entire Body: These benefits all result into reduction in the probability of injury in your every day life including the athletic movements.

Squat In My Workout Routine

I started going to Gym when I was 62. During the initial year, I avoided barbell squats due to the fear that they might damage my knees. Then one day, I noticed that I could not balance my body while standing on one leg. I did a thorough research on how to improve balancing of my body and strengthen leg muscles. I found that doing squats was the way to achieve my objective. First, I started doing body squats, and then after few months I take on the barbell squats. I am doing them for almost one year now and there is lot of improvement. In short, I found squats are amazing and I do squatting 2-3x a week.

I recommend that those who do not do squat exercise should start off with the body-weight squats – the first move you should master before you add weight. Read my last post on “How To Do Body Weight Squat Correctly – A Complete Guide.”

Three Most Common Types Of Barbell Squats

There are different versions of barbell squats. The three most common forms are front bar squat, high bar back squat (also known as “Olympic squat”), , and a low-bar back squat. All of these need a barbell – the difference is in the placement of the barbell. Because of the different bar placement positions, the muscles that are recruited change. Whereas the low bar is a posterior dominant squat, the high bar and front barbell variations are quad dominant squats. Whatever form of squat you may perform, the basics remain the same.

High Bar Back Squats

The high-bar back squat is generally one of the first barbell exercises that young athletes are taught today. By perfecting its technique an athlete has the potential to lift bigger weights with lesser risk for injury.

How To Do High Barbell Back Squat Properly?

Prepare Yourself To Squat – Correct Positioning Of High Bar

(i) Setting The Bar Correctly: The first step for any type of successful barbell squats is to set the barbell properly at the rack. Make sure to set it at about your chest height. Setting the bar too high or too low can make you susceptible to a detrimental position with respect to un-racking and re-racking the weighted barbell.

(ii) Get The Bar Correctly On Your Back: The next step is to place the bar in the correct position on your back. Crouch yourself under the squat bar and setup it tight against the tops of your shoulders and back of your neck. Pull your shoulder blades together so that a ‘shelf’ appears through the contraction of the upper back muscles. The bar should be positioned on top of this shelf.

(iii) Grip The Bar: Grab the undersides of the bar with both hands, with your hands a few inches wider than shoulder-width apart. The form of grip you take on the bar is your personal choice. Some hook their thumb under the bar while others keep it on top of the bar (monkey grip). I prefer to use my thumb under the bar. Whatever the way you choose to grip the bar, a neutral wrist alignment is perfect. The straightforward wrist allows the weight of the bar to be safely secured on the back without putting too much pressure on the elbows.

(iv) Placement Of The Feet: Position yourself under the bar with your feet evenly spaced about shoulder-width apart.

(v) Un-rack The Bar: Take a big breath while bracing your core. Hold tightly to the bar and then stand up to move the bar off the rack. Step backward with one leg, and then backward with the opposite leg so that you are away from the squat rack and able to establish your squat stance. You may like to take 1 or 2 more slow steps backwards.

Step your feet a bit further out than shoulder-width, engage the abdomen, while keeping your lower back straight. The width of the stance should be comfortable as per your needs and allow for full range of motion. For this reason, every athlete will have a slight difference in stance width.

Notes:

(a) Don’t try to un-rack the bar with your feet staggered. With lighter weight on the barbell it is easy to get away with this move. But, as soon as the weight increases to high levels, un-racking the barbell in this manner can be risky.

(b) Don’t un-rack the weight in a casual manner. Make sure to brace your core as you un-rack the bar. Without bracing your core, it’s tough to organize and create appropriate stability needed to complete the lift.

(vi) Engage Your Posterior Chain: The posterior chain comprises of glutes & hamstrings. Push your hips backwards slightly and bring your chest forward. Once your hips are engaged, begin your squat.

Tip: Don’t contemplate about going to a certain depth. Just squat.

The Descent

(i) The descent of the barbell squat follows the same rules as those of the Bodyweight Squat with one small change: As you are squatting with weight you may turn your toes out slightly. This will let you squat deeper while maintaining stability.

(ii) All the three points of both foot need to be in even contact with the ground. If done correctly, feet will turn into a full arched position. This will ensure the feet to remain stable and support your body.

(iii) While squeezing your glutes, start lowering yourself. In order to produce sufficient strength and power during the squat you should remain balanced. This you can do by maintaining your center of gravity directly over the middle of your foot. Try to lower yourself until your hip joint is parallel with your knee joint.

Note: Don’t force yourself to reach parallel depth. Squat down as much as you can do comfortably. After having mastered the technique and gained the strength, try to increase the depth gradually.

The Ascent

Now stand up. As you ascent, your hips should be driven up while the shins are pulled to a vertical position and alignment of the knees must be maintained. Keep in mind that the ascent movement of a high-bar squat is all about hip drive.

Note: The torso must also be maintained in a stable position during this part of the lift.

Repeat the above movements for 5-10 repetitions of 3 sets, or as many reps and sets as you can do comfortably. If you are doing it first time, consider having a spotter.

Read here for: 45 minutes leg’s complete workout program.

Video showing how to do high-bar back squat

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