Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Many of you have just finished the CrossFit Total.  How was it?  From what I can tell, nearly everyone that participates in indoor programs PR'd(Personal Record) the deadlift....But how was the squat?!

The back squat is a different kind of animal.  It is far more intimidating than say, the deadlift, because of one obivous reason:  You are under the weight.  When performing the deadlift, there is no risk of being crushed by the weight.  If you are unable to successfully perform the movement, you simply drop the bar - no harm done.  IF the back squat is unsuccessful, it can be a scary and dangerous thing.  But, here's the deal...

The thing that makes the squat intimidating is the same thing that makes it such a powerful and potent tool in the quest to get strong!  The fact that your entire body is loaded with the weight of the barbell initiates an extreme hormonal response that causes positive adaptation in the body - strength and hypertrophy(muscle growth).  Add to that the fact that we are moving a relatively large load through a large range of motion, and the results of training the back squat properly are crazy!!!

So now we have briefly( I emphasize "briefly" because the list is too long to blog about..more to come though.) gone into what makes the back squat such an effective exercise...Let's talk about the additional benefits of learning how to Low-Bar Back Squat. 

The majority of crossfitters squat using a "High-Bar" postition - that is the barbell is racked on top of the traps and shoulders.  The "Low-Bar" position is, as it sounds, loaded lower on the back, below the spine of the scapulae(shoulderblade).  This positioning allows for several very important things to occur during the actual squat movement:
1.  Allows for a greater forward lean without the consequence of rolling into the toes, or losing the lift entirely.
2.  This increased forward tilt at the hip allows us to engage the posterior chain muscles(hamstrings, butt, and low back), which is equivalent to calling in your "heavy-hitters".  These are the muscles that get work done!!!
3.  Because we are engaging the big posterior chain muscles, it stops us from using the small, weak anterior muscles that are usually accompanied by heels coming of the floor, drifting into the toes, 
and losing the ability to "drive" out of a stable, strong foundation.

All of this means BIG WEIGHTS!!!  In fact, Coach Mike Winchester used the low-bar squat early last week and PR'd his back squat by 60#!!!  Ridiculous, right?!  I have been transitioning my STRICTLY STRENGTH people from the typical high-bar to low-bar, and their numbers are going through the roof as well!
I'm sure that I have you hooked by now, and you're ready to go try it out, right?  Not so fast!!!  
Take the time and any other means necessary to correctly learn how to perform a Low-Bar Squat.  This blogpost is only a small view of a much bigger picture.  It was not my goal to try to teach you how to LB Squat via blog.  This is something that must be done with supervision and training, and I would not recommend just "giving it a whirl".