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Thread: Hi vs. Low Bar for Raw Squat

  1. #1
    Undead Evil He-Man KarlMarx's Avatar
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    Hi vs. Low Bar for Raw Squat

    Hi folks,
    My squat has recently been sliding backwards (I'm down almost 75 pounds from 475 to 405!) Some of that is because I've cut 20 lbs,, some of that is because I have been focusing on the deadlift (which I have raised 50lbs--to 500lbs), some is because I have been sick. However, I don't think that all adds up to -75lbs.

    I have been revisiting the entirety of my squat training. One question I want to ask just on the basis of people's experience is:
    Do you generally think hi or low bar is better for a raw squat max? Not for everybody, but just generally. I used to do low bar but started going hi bar to keep it easy on my shoulders (one was hurt) and I just stayed that way. I'd be curious if general experience leans one way or the other.

    More info. if you are interested (I am also looking for comments on revising the rest of my training as well. But I am focusing on form at the moment):
    I train lower body x2 a week on the Westside for Skinny Bastards ver. 3 program (Tuesday and Friday). Only difference is that I do DE squat or deadlift instead of box jumps on DE day.

    Program looks like this:
    Day 1:
    ME Squat/Dead or variation (I generally do two warm-ups and 5 work sets & for the work sets the reps usually go: 5, 5, 5, 3, 1)
    Lunge with extended range of motion 3 X 8-12 (front leg elevated, rear leg elevated, or step ups on a box)
    Lower back, usually good morning or some variation 3 X 8-12 (I am weak here! I now do good mornings w/165lbs for 3 X 12)
    Abs for reps, usually 2 sets of 60

    Day 2:
    DE Squat, Box Squat or Dead ( I have started doing 12 X 2, but was doing 8 X 3).
    Lunge with extended range of motion 3 X 8-12 (front leg elevated, rear leg elevated, or step ups on a box)
    Lower back, usually good morning or some variation 3 X 8-12 (I am weak here! I now do good mornings w/165lbs for 3 X 12)
    Abs with weight 4 X 10-15

    THANKS IN ADVANCE!
    Last edited by KarlMarx; 05-27-2010 at 06:32 PM. Reason: more detail

  2. #2
    Wannabebig Member
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    I really don't get all this high bar / low bar stuff.
    Just put the bar where it sits best on your back, that allows you to lift more weight. I don't understand why you would deliberately put the bar higher or lower than where the best shelf on your back is.

  3. #3
    IRL my name is Trent Hazerboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macmad View Post
    I really don't get all this high bar / low bar stuff.
    Just put the bar where it sits best on your back, that allows you to lift more weight. I don't understand why you would deliberately put the bar higher or lower than where the best shelf on your back is.

    Sometimes you don't know where that best shelf is. I'll use myself as an example. When I first tried low bar, I had to drop the weight more than fifty pounds on my work sets. I worked with lower weights for probably a whole summer, but I kept improving, and eventually blew past my old PRs with ease. If I had originally put the bar where I lifted the most weight, I wouldn't have ever tried low bar, and probably wouldn't be squatting what I do know.

    Other times you deliberately change the bar placement to work on weaknesses--westside uses this principle when they do safety bar, cambered bar, or buffalo bar squats. I'm thinking of trying a high bar placement for a few cycles myself to strengthen the lower back, which is where I'm weak in the squat.

    but to answer the OP's question, it really varies from person to person. Watch the Stan Efferding/Eric Lilliebridge video--Eric squats high, Stan low (I think, its hard to tell where the heck this guy's shoulders are). Here are two of the best squatters in the world, and their using vastly different forms.
    Last edited by Hazerboy; 05-28-2010 at 12:42 AM.
    Stats: 11/15/07-First-meet--2nd Meet----3rd meet
    Weight: 185-----187---------198---------198
    Max Bench: 255---220-----------280------300
    Max Squat: 405----395----------440------460
    Max Dead:475-----485----------551------570
    CHINUPS - Bodyweight + 135, x1, dead hang. Still working on the one arm chinup.

  4. #4
    Undead Evil He-Man KarlMarx's Avatar
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    Thanks! This is what I was afraid of though--like sumo vs. close stance deadlift--its just a matter of preference and trial and error. My shoulders can't too much take low bar as it is, so I guess I'll work on flexibility and then switch over for a few months to see how it goes. I appreciate the comments (ALOT!)

    Any thoughts on my workouts? Anything that obviously could be improved? I do know that workouts need to be tailored to individuals and weaknesses and I know my lower back is a serious weakness and I am working on it. I used to loaf on the GM's a little bit with the principle of 'protecting my back' but really I was doing just the opposite with that mentality. Now I hit it hard. But beyond that, I think I just need to get all around stronger. Ideas?

  5. #5
    Wannabebig Member
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    Here's a great, quick read article that explains alot. http://startingstrength.com/articles/squat_rippetoe.pdf
    I switched to low bar last summer and am now far stronger at squatting than I ever thought I could be a year ago. But that's just my preference I suppose.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlMarx View Post

    Program looks like this:
    Day 1:
    ME Squat/Dead or variation (I generally do two warm-ups and 5 work sets & for the work sets the reps usually go: 5, 5, 5, 3, 1)
    Lunge with extended range of motion 3 X 8-12 (front leg elevated, rear leg elevated, or step ups on a box)
    Lower back, usually good morning or some variation 3 X 8-12 (I am weak here! I now do good mornings w/165lbs for 3 X 12)
    Abs for reps, usually 2 sets of 60

    Day 2:
    DE Squat, Box Squat or Dead ( I have started doing 12 X 2, but was doing 8 X 3).
    Lunge with extended range of motion 3 X 8-12 (front leg elevated, rear leg elevated, or step ups on a box)
    Lower back, usually good morning or some variation 3 X 8-12 (I am weak here! I now do good mornings w/165lbs for 3 X 12)
    Abs with weight 4 X 10-15

    THANKS IN ADVANCE!
    If you can't go low bar because of an injury than obviously you dont have a choice really. Its going to depend on YOUR build, but generally low bar means more weight is moved.

    As far as your training goes, you are doing a lot of work on your ME day. Correct me if Im wrong, but for your ME movement, it is 3 sets of 5 with a static weight, and the last set is tough? It is is then your basically doing 2 ME movements. 3 ME movements really, especially is the triple is a max triple and the single is a max single. Youre basically working up a 5RM, a 3RM, and 1RM. Again, if this is not the case, then please let me know. If it is, well...pick one of those and rotate them. Something like:

    Week 1: 5RM Squat
    Week 2: 5RM Dead
    Week 3: 3RM Squat
    Week 4: 3RM dead
    Week 5: Deload (if you need it)
    etc...

    Thats what I would do if I trained westside.

    And Abs for 60 reps arent doing anything bro.

    I dont train westside, but I believe DE squats are 10-12 squats of 2, like you have it. Are you waving the resistances and rotating bands/chains and difference tensions and such? And aren't speed deads suppose to be 6-8 singles at 40-60%? Are you waving the weight and using bands/chains here as well?

    Also, I think its good that you have found your weakness (GMs). That means you should do them. The light weight could also be due to all the movements you are doing beforehand. If I was you, Id cut out the lunges completely and do GMs in your squat stance on ME day and GMs in your DL stance (you pull conv?) on DE day for 3sets of 8-12 like you have it.

    If you really like the lunges for whatever reason, do them after GMs since those are weak for you and are a better movement anyway. Still, Id cut them out completely and just use more weight on the GMs.

    It could just be you are doing too much work. I hope this helps!
    My Log: http://www.wannabebig.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=132038

    "Train to be a mother****er" -Jim Wendler

  7. #7
    Undead Evil He-Man KarlMarx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehopkins932 View Post
    If you can't go low bar because of an injury than obviously you dont have a choice really. Its going to depend on YOUR build, but generally low bar means more weight is moved.

    As far as your training goes, you are doing a lot of work on your ME day. Correct me if Im wrong, but for your ME movement, it is 3 sets of 5 with a static weight, and the last set is tough? It is is then your basically doing 2 ME movements. 3 ME movements really, especially is the triple is a max triple and the single is a max single. Youre basically working up a 5RM, a 3RM, and 1RM. Again, if this is not the case, then please let me know. If it is, well...pick one of those and rotate them. Something like:

    Week 1: 5RM Squat
    Week 2: 5RM Dead
    Week 3: 3RM Squat
    Week 4: 3RM dead
    Week 5: Deload (if you need it)
    etc...

    Thats what I would do if I trained westside.

    And Abs for 60 reps arent doing anything bro.

    I dont train westside, but I believe DE squats are 10-12 squats of 2, like you have it. Are you waving the resistances and rotating bands/chains and difference tensions and such? And aren't speed deads suppose to be 6-8 singles at 40-60%? Are you waving the weight and using bands/chains here as well?

    Also, I think its good that you have found your weakness (GMs). That means you should do them. The light weight could also be due to all the movements you are doing beforehand. If I was you, Id cut out the lunges completely and do GMs in your squat stance on ME day and GMs in your DL stance (you pull conv?) on DE day for 3sets of 8-12 like you have it.

    If you really like the lunges for whatever reason, do them after GMs since those are weak for you and are a better movement anyway. Still, Id cut them out completely and just use more weight on the GMs.

    It could just be you are doing too much work. I hope this helps!
    I really appreciate the comments! They were great! My immediate reaction:
    1) I never thought about my ME days being a max set of 5, then 3, then 1. Sometimes it does feel that way and if so that is too much as you state. I'll have to keep tabs on it. What I do though is a bit different than you thought. I work up in weight as I go. My last ME squat went like this:
    bar X 10
    95 X 8
    -------
    Work sets:
    135 X 5
    225 X 5
    315 X 5
    375 X 3
    405 X 1

    My goal is just to keep a reasonable amount of reps in the sets because I am intermediate (I guess) and still have significant growth to achieve. Also, just to get enough reps in to be really warm for the max sets. But, if I read you right and what seems right to me too is that it shouldn't be a set of three maxes. But I should be tapering down well ahead of when I peak so the 5 and3 rep sets don't exhaust me.. Right? Or no?

    2) I like the idea of switching the GM and the lunges. I'll get more focus and effort on the GM's if I do them first. think I still need the lunges to work on my legs. They don't get much rep work in the speed sets or the ME sets.

    3) As far as the 2 sets of 60 abs not doing anything...thats about the only thing I really disagree with. My abs are pretty damn tired already by that point and that just finishes them off. If I was to just sit down cold and pound out two sets of 60 it would be easy, but not after the workout. I think it makes a difference in working my abs that last degree that is worth the short time that it takes to do them.

    Again, I really appreciate your comments and I'll keep thinking about them...this was just my first reaction.

    I had never thought about if I should be pushing 5 and 3 rep maxes before my big single or not. I'd be interested to hear you (or anybody) say more about that.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlMarx View Post
    I really appreciate the comments! They were great! My immediate reaction:
    1) I never thought about my ME days being a max set of 5, then 3, then 1. Sometimes it does feel that way and if so that is too much as you state. I'll have to keep tabs on it. What I do though is a bit different than you thought. I work up in weight as I go. My last ME squat went like this:
    bar X 10
    95 X 8
    -------
    Work sets:
    135 X 5
    225 X 5
    315 X 5
    375 X 3
    405 X 1

    My goal is just to keep a reasonable amount of reps in the sets because I am intermediate (I guess) and still have significant growth to achieve. Also, just to get enough reps in to be really warm for the max sets. But, if I read you right and what seems right to me too is that it shouldn't be a set of three maxes. But I should be tapering down well ahead of when I peak so the 5 and3 rep sets don't exhaust me.. Right? Or no?

    2) I like the idea of switching the GM and the lunges. I'll get more focus and effort on the GM's if I do them first. think I still need the lunges to work on my legs. They don't get much rep work in the speed sets or the ME sets.

    3) As far as the 2 sets of 60 abs not doing anything...thats about the only thing I really disagree with. My abs are pretty damn tired already by that point and that just finishes them off. If I was to just sit down cold and pound out two sets of 60 it would be easy, but not after the workout. I think it makes a difference in working my abs that last degree that is worth the short time that it takes to do them.

    Again, I really appreciate your comments and I'll keep thinking about them...this was just my first reaction.

    I had never thought about if I should be pushing 5 and 3 rep maxes before my big single or not. I'd be interested to hear you (or anybody) say more about that.

    Working up to a 405 squat, I would do this:

    2xBarx10
    75x6
    105x6
    135x5
    165x5
    195x4
    225x4
    255x3
    285x2
    315x2
    345x1
    375x1
    405x1

    Guarantee you will PR doing it that way instead of 315x5 to 375x3 to 405x1. I know its a lot of sets, but take 2 min between everything under 285, 3 min for everything under 375, and you should be fine. If its an issue of warming up, that really should be done during your actually dynamic warmups and such before squatting. The 2 sets with the bar should really make you pretty warmed up, if not the other sets should. The goal is to PR (or hit whatever number you select) on your 1RM...not push the 5RM and 3RM.

    If you are looking for growth, its probably not going to come out of your ME work unless you are predominantly fast-twitch or doing 5RM (and even then). Do the hypertrophy work after the ME work or just devote the accessory work on DE day to that (which probably isnt a bad idea anyway).

    Also, I would just cut out the lunges completely. 3x10 GMs is a lot still. It probably isnt the smartest thing to do them on both days even with different stances...Id do them one day for 4 weeks than the other for another 4 weeks. Switch stances when you switch days. Id personally do (and have had good success with) 3x8 GMs on your ME day and 3x8-12 high bar or front squats on the DE day. Lunges arent doing much compared to that. Take them out completely and see what that does for your squat/DL (give it 4-6 weeks). Then slowly add in a sets or 2 at the end if you really feel like you need them.

    If you really want to keep the 2 sets of 60 then so be it. But I could do 1000 reps with the bar and Id be tired. That doesnt mean its doing very much for growth or strength, which Im assuming are your goals. 3 sets if 8-12 is going to "finish" them and give you the growth or strength. Would you do sets of 60 for another other muscle?

    Hope this helps. Let me know what you think.
    My Log: http://www.wannabebig.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=132038

    "Train to be a mother****er" -Jim Wendler

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