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Coach's Blog

Strength is a Skill Series- Back Squat the Set Up

By Rob | In Coach's Blog | on January 8, 2013

It has been said the Back Squat is the mother of all strength exercises. I am not sure if it is the mother of all strength exercises, but I do feel that it is essential to overall strength development. So we wanted to address this movement in detail so that you can get the most out of this exercise. This is the next installment of the Strength is a Skill Series here at CrossFit West Houston.

Bar Position

There are typically two thoughts on bar position, the photo above does a good job of showing the Front Squat bar position, as well as the high and low bar back squat position. We prefer the high bar position as it promotes an upward chest posture. In this case, the bar is positioned across the meaty part of the lower part of the trap. Stay away from the top of the traps as the bar tends to get onto the cervical spine.

Hands, Wrist and Elbows

The hands, much like the strict press, should be placed about a thumbs length off the end of the knurling. This will provide a nice even spacing of your hands and body placement in the center of the bar. Elbows should be pointed down with the wrist straight and in line with the elbows. Avoid letting the elbows flair out to the back like angel wings. If shoulder flexibility limits this, adjust your grip a little wider.

Foot Position

The feet should typically be shoulder width apart for most people. Taller folks with longer tibia’s might need to have a slightly wider stance. Toes should be slightly pointed out. This means generally pointed forward with a very slight angle out. It is common to see some folks to wide with their toes. Avoid a Plie’ squat that you might find in ballet.

Unracking the Bar

As you prepare to unrack the bar, your posture and trunk tension are very important. Get your full body under the bar, take a gathering breath to help lift the chest and tighten the abdominal region. Avoid slouching when unracking the bar, you want to load your Erector muscles which run up the back and parallel to the spine not your spine. Take enough of a step back to clear the J hooks, no need to travel that far. Now you are ready to squat.

Next up Bench Press

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