Part 2: What the hell’s a low bar back squat??

1. First, understand the PURPOSE of the squat.

The purpose of the squat, to a weightlifter, is not to squat more. The squat, is to help the weightlifter snatch and clean and jerk more. Okay? Okay. Agree.

2. Understand how training should be structured. At least in my mind.

A: All movements must benefit the snatch and clean and jerk.

B: The movements most similar to pattern to snatch and clean and jerk is the movement you should choose first. So obviously, try training the snatch and clean and jerk most.

C: Growing on point B, after you complete the snatch and clean and jerk, find PATTERNS that most similarly mimic the snatch and clean and jerk. That’s why panda pulls have superiority over snatch or clean pulls (Unless the weakness is the first pull) That’s why a push press is superior to the strict press.

D: All other accessory movements in order to HELP the structural weaknesses of the body are put last. So you can bicep curl, if you’ve completed all your other work. Don’t overdo it though.

Okay, next.

Remember that the 80% of the fitness industry, is a great big giant lie. Actually, is a misconception built upon more misconception and then transferred to a bunch of white sheets called personal trainers. That’s why you see clowns telling you “DO squats facing the wall so you’ll load the hips and keep the knees back!”

No you numbskull and 3/4. If your femur’s long, your ankles are inflexible, you’re never EVER going to load your hip with a wall squat.  Don’t FORCE the correction. FIX the problem, the correction will flow!!!!!! Trainers! Read into work by Gray Cook and David Weinstock. You don’t say, “Yeah, it’ll get there.” That’s what you do when you’re training a crossfit class because its too large. If its a 1-1, please fix their problem not force their correction.

Even in China, the kids are gradually worked into these contortionist’like positions. If a country that’s perceived as so backdated can get that wrong, why can’t you high tech forum frequenting, research spewing goonballs?

Btw, reading research and researching is two different things. You NEED to read the literature review, testing protocol, ACTUAL data results and then interpret. You didn’t read any research by just jumping to the conclusions. If someone gives you a positive results of using lunges to replace squats, you need to ask further, what about the long term development? What was the samples background in training. Too many researchers out there use general public or slightly trained public, to come up with data and then slap it on faces of athletes. HellO? That’s like asking Kirk to give you financial advice cuz I read Mike Maloney’s site daily. But yes, your paper money doesn’t have any value. Exchange that for gold and silver please. 1:15 ratio, g:s.

I’ve a client named Nadine Dumas (do a google search on her) and she’s built like that. Legs that last forever. Great for looks, horrific for squats. She doesn’t get to back squat. Her back squats are replaced with deadlifts with knees slightly bent to strengthen her hamstrings in a way that I need. I don’t let her do SLDL cuz it’s not helping her front squat better. FIX the weakness, not tell them “You’ll figure it out eventually”. What if they don’t? You gonna live with an eternal guilt of not helping someone to the best of your knowledge, cuz you were LAZY.

Now back to the topic.

People tell you how low bar back squats develop an immense amount of hip power. Great! Fantastic! Fab! You wanna know another exercise that develops immense hip power, at the top range of the movement just before your full extension? Hardstyle swings. Why don’t I see any of you doing hardstyle swings on a daily basis? And no, there’s no place for a full swing in sports. Well besides maybe long jumps and high jumps I suppose.

Okay? So you load your hip? Good? Now let’s see why we DON’T low bar back squat for weightlifting.

  1. Try catching a snatch or clean with a low bar back squat position. Keep your shins at perpendicular, torso aligned 60 degrees and your shoulders crazily internally rotated. Then do it again and again and again. :) Then you’ll see why.
  2. Quad dominance IS bad. But if its balanced? There’s a difference between DOMINANCE and BALANCE. You don’t have a strong enough quad, you’re going to see your snatch and clean and jerks suffer too. Strong hamstrings help you use the quads better. Strong quads, helps you get the hell out of a sticking point. Strong quads and trunk, also assist in deceleration of the bar in preparation to drive the jerk. Don’t just think of the pull.

Above all really, we need to mimic the movement PATTERN. I keep saying this pattern pattern word. If you back squat and front squat with a different feel for the movement of the bar, that’s already a problem. And now you wanna place the bar lower down your traps and shove your ass so far it’ll hit the granny that emigrated from Siberia, benching 140KG behind you. Very dangerous.

No people. Research finding me all you want. Most things aren’t set in stone. This however, is pretty happily rooted in the “Don’t bother” zone. Unless you’re powerlifting or doing some other sort of power sport like sprinting or cycling. Low bar back squats, can occasionally be used as a SBD exercise, but go back to your straight torso back squats quick. Can’t do it? Figure out what’s wrong with your psoas and glutes my friend. Search the CAUSE of your instability. The cause

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  1. Hi Kirksman,
    I’m sure you’re right: the high-bar olympic style of squats are much more useful for olympic lifting, but I think you’re mischaracterizing the low bar squat a bit. Only geared lifters use the extreme sit back style with the verticle shin angle. If you’re raw, your knees are going to travel forward a bit and your torso will stay more upright. Making it more similar to the olympic style and potentially useful for weightlifters.

  2. Great post, Kirksman.
    Also, according to Simmons (who’s advice you seem to love as much as the rest of the weightlifting world) the wide stance has high carryover to narrow stance, but not visa versa.

    • I respect him as a coach, but that’s rubbish. First day I did a powerlifting stance back squat on a box, I did 200KG x 5. At that point, my back squat was only 190KG. By the time I raised it to 230KG x 3, it was at 200KG. There’s a carryover with BOTH the movements. What he’s right about, is the carryover of hip power from the back squats isn’t as significant as the low bar back squat, on a box. his argument is that if you develop hip power, you’ll be good in weightlifting so that’s why he argues that the LBBS is the best exercise to develop power for the triple extension

      Problem is, weightlifting doesn’t entail a triple extension. It’s a game of back and down.


  1. […] this article here that I wrote…I said the low-bar-back-squats are pointless for weightlifting and should only be used as a SBD exercise. I still don’t believe […]

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