So after a poll on Instagram I felt a little blog about high bar vs low bar position was warranted.
Many of you may not even know the difference, or even consider the positioning when performing your squats. So here is a short blog to highlight the key differences so you can establish which position is right for you.
The defining difference between the high-bar squat and the low-bar squat is the bar placement. In the high-bar squat, the bar rests on your traps. With the low-bar squat, the bar rests a few inches lower on your posterior deltoids or your mid-shoulder. There are just a few inches of difference, and it doesn’t change the movement that much — a squat is still a squat. However, the different bar placements influence a few key things.
Now as a tall individual with excessively long legs, for me the bar position all comes down to leverage. Really long legs, means squatting High Bar can be more difficult as I’d still be leant over and using Low Bar makes it easier for me to shift the weight due to similar loading positions. The opposite is said if you have really short legs and prefer to stay upright. Another example is an extremely quad dominant individual who would most likely prefer High Bar Squats compared to a more posterior chain movement like Low Bar Squats.
The high bar placement in the squat requires significant knee and ankle flexion. If you lack the mobility to air squat to full depth with an upright chest and neutral spine, the high-bar squat will expose that.
Where as the low-bar squat is an easier position for people with poor ankle mobility. Because of the forward torso, there is greater flexion at the hips while your shins may stay perpendicular to the ground. However, the low-bar requires greater shoulder mobility to hold the bar in place.
With a low bar squat you will engage the posterior chain more compared to the high bar squat, so you may feel it more in your glutes and hamstrings in the days after. However, training the high-bar squat improves your core as well as your legs, and core stability carries over into every other part of the gym and life, so for this reason alone you may find it more desirable.
Personally, I prefer a front squat! Not mentioned in this blog, but I guess if I had to choose a preference for me it’s the low bar squat. I find it more comfortable and it engages more of the muscles I tend to focus on when it comes to my own training.
Hopefully this has cleared things up a bit.