Q: What’s the best method for squatting, low bar or high bar?
A: The way you perform squats depends on your goals. Are you a powerlifter, weightlifter, strongman, CrossFitter, bodybuilder or nondescript strength trainee with noncompetitive or nonmyopic-competitive goals?
Powerlifters should specialize in low-bar squatting because they rely on the powerful hip extensor muscles, the glutes, instead of putting more stress on the knee extensors, the quads, which are not as strong. For weightlifters, high-bar squatting is preferred because it better emulates the type of squats used in competition (such as in the “catch” position of the snatch). Bodybuilders should select their squats based on their aesthetic needs for competition—either bigger quads or more muscular glutes and hamstrings.
CrossFitters should prioritize high-bar squats, again because they are required to perform the overhead squat, where they are holding a weight overhead at arm’s length and squatting deeply, in class or competition.
Finally, strongmen and general strength trainees should probably do both types of squats or merely pick their favorite method. The bottom line is that squat preference is a function of the demands of the task to be performed.
Editor’s note: Ben White won his first IFBB professional bodybuilding contest, the Tampa Pro, in 2010. He is also a champion powerlifter and frequently competes in the World’s Strongest Bodybuilder contest at the Olympia. His best competition bench press is 711 pounds. He is an MPH athlete, www.MHPStong.com. IM
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