How To Do Low Barbell Squat Exercise Correctly

Low Barbell Back Squat Technique And Tips
The low bar squat exercise puts a premium on training the posterior chain. Low-bar squatting hits the hamstrings and glutes better and allows you to lift heavier, so it’s more common among powerlifters.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends regular load-bearing exercise for everyone, even for the seniors. It’s claimed such exercises maintain muscle strength and bone mass. Moreover, they improve coordination and balance.

Likewise, many experts recommend incorporating some kinds basic barbell training, even for the elderly that younger people do, including squats, deadlifts and bench presses.

Many studies have shown that squats when done with proper form actually improve knee stability and strengthen connective tissues. They can make you stronger and able to handle everyday tasks better such as walking, standing and bending over.

In this article we’re going to tell you about all the techniques and a step-by-step complete guide to do low barbell squat perfectly.

How To Do Low Barbell Back Squat Properly?

This barbell variation is the most common type that the beginners, general lifters, and power-lifters usually do.

Prepare Yourself To Squat – Correct Positioning Of Low Bar Squat

(i) Setting The Barbell On The Rack Correctly: This is the first important step to do any successful squat. A general rule of thumb is to set the bar lower in the barbell rack as compared to higher. This will ensure that you won’t have to tip toe up just to get the bar on and off – a situation you should not get into.

(ii) Get The Barbell Correctly On Your Back: The next important step is, you need to position the barbell correctly on the back. While facing the bar, step yourself under it. Now put your hands around it and trap it tight against the back of your shoulders. Pull your shoulder blades together by contracting the mid-back muscles. A ‘shelf’ will appear through the contraction of the mid-back muscles. The barbell should be positioned on this shelf. This way the bar position will be 2-3 inches lower than where the bar is held during high-bar back squat. If you have never tried low-bar back squat, you may feel uncomfortable a little bit during the begining few days.

(iii) Grip The Bar: Step under the bar while facing it and take a thumb less grip so that your wrists are properly aligned with your forearms. Take a standard grip on the barbell (just outside shoulder width). However, typically here the hands are evenly spaced at slightly wider than a high bar back squat. You can vary it up to a wide grip depending upon the comfort. The purpose is to have sufficient upper body mobility because taking too narrow of a grip when you are lacking flexibility in the chest/shoulders can lead to increased stress on the elbow joint.

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

(v) Un-rack The Bar: Don’t attempt to lift the bar off the rack casually. Make sure to create solid stability before you move the bar. To do so, take a big breath while bracing your core muscles. 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. Step your feet a bit further out than a shoulder-width, engage the abdomen, while keeping your lower back straight.

After un-racking the bar properly, take three slow steps backwards. Adjust the width of your stance in a comfortable position that allows for full range of motion. For this reason, every athlete will have a slight difference in stance width.


(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.

The Descent

(i) The stance you take during any squat should let you stay balanced. Most of the people use a stance just a little bit more than shoulder-width with the toes pointing out slightly (between 10-20 degrees). This will let you squat deeper while maintaining stability.

(ii) Now, squeeze your glutes and bring your knees into line and good alignment with your feet.

(iii) Next, 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 the rest of your body.

(iv) While squeezing your glutes, engage your posterior chain comprising of glutes & hamstrings. Push your hips backwards slightly and bring your chest forward. Once your hips are engaged, take another big breath and start lowering yourself in a controlled manner. Don’t contemplate about going to a certain depth. Just squat.

In order to produce sufficient strength and power during the squat you should remain balanced, keep your core properly engaged and rigid. In order to do this, the bar must remain in line over the middle of your foot during the entire squat. Stability will be lost if the bar moves forward toward the toes or backward toward the heel.


(i) Try to lower yourself until your hip joint is parallel with your knee joint. But never 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.

Caution For Seniors: Old age people should go down as much as they can do comfortably. Also they better either do squats without weight or with a lighter weight only.

(ii) In order to maintain the barbell (which is now positioned lower on the back) centered over the mid-foot, you may have to incline your chest a little over the knees more than the other squat types.

Depending on the physical make-up of an individual (height, weight, leg length, etc.) the amount of trunk inclination can vary. Some individuals will have a more upright torso while others will be very inclined.

(iii) The bottom position of low-bar squat does not require the knees to move forward too much. This type typically puts more load on the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes) as compared to the front squat and high-bar squat.

The Ascent

Now stand up. As you ascent, your hips should be driven up while the shins are pulled to a vertical position. The alignment of the knees must be maintained over the middle of your feet. Keep in mind that the ascent movement of a low-bar squat is all about hip drive. In order to keep the bar from moving too much towards the toes, make sure to drive the chest up at the same time. Failure to do so will cause the hips to rise overly and the torso to remain forward. Doing so will often cause the bar to move too much toward the toes, which places harmful forces on the low-back and can easily lead to injury.

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

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

Video showing how to do low-bar back squat



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