Is your neck hurting everytime you Squat? Are you therefore doing Squats using one of those bar pads, manta rays, or worse, wrapping a towel around the bar? If so – you’re not Squatting with the bar properly positioned in your back.
Think about it – how else could I Squat 400lbs wearing just a cotton t-shirt? And why do StrongLifts Members like Jake Squat well over 600lbs without using that sissy pad? Obviously, because we Squat with the bar correctly on our back.
Before I show you how to master the correct bar position, you probably know that there are 2 variations of the Back Squat…
- High bar aka Olympic style – the bar is higher on your traps, your torso is more upright, and you can thus Squat a lot deeper.
- Low bar aka Powerlifting style – bar is lower on your upper-bar, you have a better leverage, and thus you can Squat heavier.
On StrongLifts 5×5 you will do low bar Squats. While there’s nothing wrong with Squatting high bar, you can Squat more weight using the low bar position because it gives you better leverages plus it’s safer for your back. Obviously, the more weight you Squat, the more strength and muscle you will gain.
That said, whether you Squat low or high bar, the barbell should NEVER rest on your neck unless you want to get hurt. The bar should always rest on your upper-back.
IMPORTANT: your hands do NOT support the weight of the bar, your upper-back does. Yes you should be squeezing the bar hard when Squatting because this boosts upper-back tightness and provides the bar a better shelf to rest on. But your hands never support all the weight. Your upper-back muscles do.
Don’t get too hang up about the precise position where the bar should rest since this tends to vary from person to person anyway depending on bone structure and such. The 2 big things to master the low bar position for Squats…
- Spread your chest – lift your chest up and forward and keep it there.
- Shoulders back and down – pinch your shoulder-blades together hard.
Squatting with a narrow grip is better than using a wide grip because you can tense your upper-back more. This locks the bar in position and allows you to Squat more weight.
If the low bar position feels uncomfortable, you probably lack flexibility and have a hunckback (quasimodo like posture). Don’t worry – this is very common with desk jockeys like me and you can easily overcome this with mobility exercises…