Abs, Adductors, Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, Lower Back
Low Bar Back Squat Overview
The low bar back squat is a barbell back squat variation and an exercise used to target the muscles in the leg.
One will usually opt for the low bar back squat if their goal is to recruit the muscles of the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) more during the squat.
Most people will be able to lift a heavier amount of weight when low bar back squatting simply because the tension is more evenly distributed between the muscles of the leg.
Low 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 top of your rear deltoids.
- Unrack the bar, take 2-3 steps back and position your feet at shoulder width.
- Take a deep breath, squeeze your elbows toward the middle of your body to get your upper back tight, and then try to drive them forward under the bar. There shouldn’t be much movement, it’s more about intent.
- 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.
Low Bar Back Squat Tips
- Toe angle is highly individual - experiment to see what 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.
- Imagine you’re trying to drop your back pockets straight 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 highly individual as well - some prefer a neutral neck position (i.e. keeping the chin tucked throughout the lift) while others do well with looking straight ahead. Experiment with each and see which one works best for your anatomy.
- Low bar positioning will require the lifter to sit back into the hips with more forward lean at the torso to recruit the posterior chain more effectively.
- Don’t push the knees out excessively but ensure they track roughly over or slightly outside the 2nd toe.