- Target Muscle Group
- Exercise TypeStrength
- Equipment RequiredBarbell
- Force TypePush (Bilateral)
- Experience LevelIntermediate
- Secondary Muscles
Abs, Adductors, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Lower Back
High Bar Back Squat Overview
The high bar squat is a variation of the squat and an exercise used to build the muscles of the legs. In particular, the high bar squat will place a lot of emphasis on the quads.
The squat movement pattern is a foundational movement and should be performed by most capable individuals throughout their lives. So, it is important to find a variation that is comfortable for you to perform, and continuously work on it.
High Bar Back Squat Instructions
- Position the bar just below shoulder level and adjust the safety stops right above knee height.
- Place your pinkies on the smooth ring of the barbell.
- Get under the bar and position at the base of your traps looking straight ahead.
- Unrack the bar, take 2-3 steps back and position your feet at shoulder width.
- Take a deep breath and keep your elbows in line with your torso.
- Descend by simultaneously pushing the hips back and bending the knees.
- Once your thighs reach parallel with the floor, begin to reverse the movement.
- Keep your abs braced and drive your feet through the floor.
- Finish the lift by exhaling as you fully extend the hips and knees.
High Bar Back Squat Tips
- Toe angle is highly individual - experiment to see what foot position feels best for you.
- Bend the bar over your back by pulling it down into your traps.
- Experiment with a “false” (i.e. thumbless) grip as this helps to eliminate elbow and wrist issues in some folks.
- Drive through the whole foot - you want 3 points of contact: big toe, little toe, and heel.
- Visualize yourself trying to drop your back pockets straight down towards your heels. Down, not back.
- Some forward translation of the knees over the toes is alright provided that the knees don’t deviate excessively inward or outward. Those with longer femurs will have to allow their knees to come farther forward if they want to remain upright.
- Drive your traps into the bar and try to squeeze your elbows in towards your body as you reverse the movement out of the hole.
- Neck position is also highly individual. Some may prefer a neutral neck position (i.e. keeping the chin tucked throughout the lift) while others do well looking straight ahead. Experiment with each and see which one you prefer and works best for your anatomy.
- Don’t push the knees out excessively but ensure they track roughly over or slightly outside your 2nd toe.