183.4 kg low bar. A low bar decreases the length of the spine lever so enables the hips to generate more torque. However there is a trade off in that the lower bar requires that one must lean further forward. I use wrist wraps.
Squatting is generally considered to be the ‘best exercise known to man’. As such, on the internet, it attracts nutters. Many of these nutters will talk of ‘arse to grass’ squatting and then post links to Olympic lifters doing ‘full squats’.
A ‘full’ squat is fine, if you are an Olympic lifter.
Whenever I do a lift I am more concerned with progress. Such progress is slow and littered with mistakes. By reading these pages you will avoid some of these mistakes. One of the mistakes that people make is being concerned with a full range of motion. A full range of motion is equated to sainthood whereas a partial is equated to evil.
The lifts I do are selected on their effectiveness for producing overall strength gains. The best lifts for this are the various forms of squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and presses.
153 kg × 3 reps high bar; high bar means above the spinous processes of the shoulder blades. The idea with squats or any lift is to generate tension. The idea is not range of motion. If range of motion is the idea, then that would be stretching. Note the lack of wrist wraps.
So I categorise the movements thusly;
In terms of movement one can do the following moves;
- Push a weight
- Pull a weight
- Curl a weight
- Extend a weight
- Adduct a weight
- Abduct a weight
The strength from such moves can be used as follows;
- To lift a weight in the hands
- To lift a weight on the shoulders
- To carry a weight in the hands
- To carry a weight on the shoulders
- To push a weight with the hands
- To pull a weight with the hands
- Other stuff
So squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and presses are categories 1 and 2 of Movement and in terms of Function fall into categories 1, 2, 5 and 6.
When it comes to progress at these lifts then generating tension is the key. Range of motion is not the key, that is instead the key for stretching.
So let’s look at the squat. To generate tension it is necessary to do the move in a certain sequence. In the two videos in this post, I get my grip and stance then dip under the bar, take a breath hold it and then pop the bar off the hooks. I take a breath of two then hold it for the descent. If the set-up is not tight and springy then it cannot be made up for during the rest of the move.
The descent then begins. The tension generated from the set-up must be maintained. As the hips lower and go back, the lower back must go into a tight arch. If the arch is lost then one will suffer ‘butt wink’ with a subsequent loss of muscle tension.
So I squat onto this muscle tension, then I spring up. It might be that this means only going to a 3/4 or a 2/3 squat. To get lower I would have to maintain this tension but move the knees forward. I would also have to ask why I would do this. If I was an Olympic lifter I would have to squat ‘arse to grass’ to receive the weight in the squat clean position. If I was a powerlifter I would have to go to parallel to get a squat passed. However if I just want to progressively add weight to a squat-like move then I do not have to fiddle around with maintaining tension whilst achieving a particular range of motion… instead I’ll just go for tension.
Of course none of this will make any difference to the internet nutters, who will continue to rub their bottoms on the grass.