Excessive-Bar vs Low-Bar Squats: Which Is Finest for Power and Hypertrophy?

Excessive-Bar vs Low-Bar Squats: Which Is Finest for Power and Hypertrophy?

Broadly talking, there are two sorts of barbell squat: the high-bar and the low-bar squat.  

These names don’t have anything to do with the gear you’re utilizing—each contain a normal barbell—however as a substitute consult with the place you maintain the barbell in your again whereas squatting. 

To wit, the high-bar squat has the bar 2 to three inches increased in your shoulders than the low-bar squat. 

Though this can be a delicate change, it’s sufficient to change the mechanics of the train in order that they really feel like very totally different workout routines. This, in flip, has led many individuals to surprise which form of squatting is best for gaining muscle and power.

The lengthy story brief is that each types of squatting have execs and cons for various individuals and objectives, however neither is essentially “higher” or “worse” for everybody. 

On this article, you’ll be taught what the high-bar and low-bar squats are, methods to do them with correct type, and when you need to use one versus the opposite. 

    Desk of Contents

  • The Excessive-Bar vs. Low-Bar Squat
  • Ought to You Excessive-Bar or Low-Bar Squat?

The Excessive-Bar vs. Low-Bar Squat

The high-bar squat has the bar resting instantly on the higher trapezius muscle tissues, whereas low-bar squat has the bar resting between the higher traps and rear deltoids (about 2 to three inches decrease down your again).

Right here’s what this distinction seems like:


The first distinction you’ll discover whereas squatting, other than the place the bar presses into your again, is that your torso stays extra upright and your knees journey farther ahead within the high-bar squat than within the low-bar squat.

Right here’s what this seems like: 

Which is better low bar or high bar squat

You may additionally be questioning, why not place the bar someplace between these two factors? A medium-bar place? 

The explanation for that is that your again has two anatomical “notches” the place you possibly can securely place a barbell: one on prime of your traps (the high-bar place) and one on prime of your rear deltoids and shoulder blades (the low-bar place). Except for these two factors, there aren’t any different safe locations to carry the barbell in your again. 

You may try to put the bar someplace between the high- and low-bar positions, however you’ll in all probability discover that it simply slides right down to the low-bar place after a number of reps. 

Anyway, some individuals declare that this distinction in torso angle between the high-bar and low-bar squat drastically modifications the muscle tissues which can be educated by every variation. Particularly, what you’ll sometimes hear is that the high-bar squat preferentially trains your quads, whereas the low-bar squat emphasizes your lower-back and glute muscle tissues. 

You’ll additionally discover which you can in all probability squat 5 to 10% extra weight utilizing the low-bar place as a substitute of the high-bar place. This has led many individuals to assume that the low-bar squat is best for gaining muscle as a result of it permits you to use heavier weights. 

And nearly all of that is twattle. 

First, let’s tackle the defective concept that high-bar squats are higher at coaching your quads and low-bar squats are higher at coaching your glutes and lower-back. Proof in opposition to this concept comes from a examine printed by scientists within the Journal of Human Kinetics, which discovered that muscle activation of the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and spinal erectors was an identical in well-trained weightlifters utilizing each the high-bar and low-bar squat positions. 

That’s, each squat variations educated the entire related muscle teams equally. 

Different analysis has discovered related outcomes when evaluating muscle activation throughout the back and front squat and when utilizing full (“ass-to-grass”) and parallel squats.

Mainly, as long as you’re squatting with heavy weights comparatively near failure and utilizing correct squat approach, all squat variations practice your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and lower-back muscle tissues about equally. 

So, if muscle activation is similar throughout the high- and low-bar squat, why can most individuals elevate extra weight within the low-bar place? 

It’s because the low-bar squat place places you in a barely extra mechanically advantageous place for squatting heavy hundreds than the high-bar squat place. Though your muscle tissues produce the identical quantity of drive throughout each types of squatting, the low-bar place is a bit more environment friendly at utilizing that drive to maneuver the barbell. 

Consider it this fashion: Though two vehicles would possibly produce the identical horsepower (drive), the one with higher gearing will be capable to pull heavier hundreds. So it’s with the squat—you possibly can consider the low-bar squat as having barely higher “gearing” for shifting the barbell.  

The necessary factor to recollect, although, is that absolutely the quantity of weight on the bar isn’t what makes your muscle tissues develop. As an alternative, it’s the quantity of rigidity you drive your muscle tissues to provide, and analysis exhibits that the high- and low-bar squats each produce about the identical quantity of rigidity in your muscle fibers (technically, activation, which is a good proxy). 

Thus, each sorts of squatting (and entrance squats, for that matter), are all roughly equal by way of their skill to construct muscle. 

This isn’t to say that everybody can profit from each types of squatting equally, although.

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Ought to You Excessive-Bar or Low-Bar Squat?

When you’re like me, and you’ve got pretty common limb lengths, mobility, seems, intelligence . . . *begins sobbing quietly* . . . and also you simply wish to get stronger, construct muscle, and keep wholesome, then it doesn’t matter what fashion of squatting you do. You may stick totally to high- or low-bar squatting or do a mixture of each—do no matter fits your druthers.  

That mentioned, when you’re a little bit of an anatomical anomaly or you’ve got extra particular objectives, then chances are you’ll wish to be strategic about which form of squat you select. 

Chances are you’ll favor the low-bar squat place if . . .

  • You might have lengthy femurs. On this case, the low-bar squat place will possible make it extra snug so that you can attain parallel (the purpose at which your thigh is parallel to the ground). 
  • You wish to elevate as a lot weight as doable or compete in powerlifting. Typically, individuals can elevate about 5 to 10% extra within the low-bar place, which makes it a more sensible choice for many powerlifters.
  • You might have poor ankle, knee, or hip mobility, which may make high-bar squatting uncomfortable. 
  • You’re uninterested in high-bar squatting and wish to attempt one thing new. 

And chances are you’ll favor the high-bar squat place if . . . 

  • You might have restricted shoulder or wrist mobility. This could make it troublesome to get your arms within the correct place throughout the low-bar squat.
  • Your lower-back hurts when low-bar squatting. The low-bar squat requires a extra aggressive ahead lean, making the high-bar squat extra snug for some individuals. That mentioned, each types of squatting nonetheless place loads of stress in your again, so chances are you’ll wish to attempt entrance squatting as a substitute, which locations even much less stress in your again (or, you already know, take a while of squatting to let your again heal).
  • You’re uninterested in low-bar squatting and wish to attempt one thing new. 

Some individuals additionally report that they don’t really feel as “tight” or safe whereas high-bar squatting, however that is principally only a matter of apply. After a number of weeks of high-bar squatting this could now not be a problem. 

Personally, I like to make use of each variations in my exercises. If I’m squatting as soon as per week, I’ll normally give attention to both the high-bar or the low-bar place for at the least 12 to 16 weeks earlier than switching to the opposite fashion. If I’m squatting twice per week, I’ll typically squat high-bar sooner or later and low-bar the opposite day. 

In the primary, it doesn’t matter whether or not you utilize a excessive or low-bar squat place. Each are equally efficient for constructing muscle and power, and the one motive to make use of one over the opposite is because of anatomical variations, private desire, or to compete in powerlifting. 

There’s one rider to the above level that has to do with working programming: No matter fashion of squatting you select, be sure to do it at the least as soon as per week for at the least 8 to 12 weeks, ideally longer. The explanation for that is that consistently switching forwards and backwards between excessive and low bar squats each week makes it troublesome to grasp both fashion, which reduces how a lot weight you should use and thus how a lot muscle you construct. 

And when you actually can’t determine which fashion you wish to attempt first, begin with the low-bar place. It’ll allow you to use barely heavier weights, so why not give it a whirl first?

+ Scientific References

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