Are you struggling with your squat technique?
Ever feel like your back squat form looks more like a good morning?
Do you feel off-balance when trying to maintain proper squat form with the bar?
There is no one size fits all principle when it comes to proper squat technique. It’s important to understand your biomechanical constraints and body segment proportions when deciding which stance and barbell position to use.
SUMO SQUAT TECHNIQUE vs NORMAL SQUAT STANCE
The sumo squat technique requires your foot position to be wider than the regular back squat technique.
Here is a basic guide to setting up for proper sumo squat form:
- Start with your feet in your regular squat stance, which will be approximately under your shoulders.
- Now, take your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Turn your toes out slightly.
- Perform a few ‘practice’ bodyweight squats to ensure you are comfortable.
- As you perform your bodyweight squats you may need to adjust by turning your toes out more, or moving your heels out slightly to find a more comfortable position.
A wider stance will create more of a hip hinge pattern. The knees don’t track forward as much, causing the shins to stay more vertical and requiring less ankle mobility. The sumo squat technique can help lifters who have long legs (more specifically, long femurs — the upper portion of the leg) and a short torso, to attain proper back squat form.
The regular back squat technique has a more narrow set-up position, with your feet approximately in line with your shoulders. A lifter that has a longer torso with shorter femurs will find this position more suitable. Unlike the sumo squat technique, lifters set in a narrower stance are more comfortable staying in a more upright position. When they squat, you’ll notice that their knees move forward more than in a sumo squat.
This is not to say that a lifter can’t try training in different positions. As long as the line of force is directly over the body’s centre of mass. This will become an important factor when driving correctly through the midfoot and increasing load on the barbell in the safest and most effective way.
If you’re struggling with back squat form and haven’t tried the sumo squat technique, you may need to adjust your foot position to accommodate for physiological constraints that are limiting your ability to move comfortably and get depth.
LOW BAR SQUAT FORM vs HIGH BAR
Where you place the barbell on your back will alter the movement pattern and where you feel the back squat more.
Low bar squat form — is where the barbell is placed lower on your back and your rear delts. This barbell placement causes you to break at the hips more significantly during the back squat, and engages more of the posterior muscles in the body.
High bar squat form — has the barbell placed on the upper trap. This barbell placement will have the lifter in a more upright position when performing the squat, causing them to break both at the knee and the hip at the same time as they descend.
When it comes to the back squat technique, what you’ll notice is that the knees and hips have a forward/back, give and take relationship. Barbell position will dictate significantly whether the hips go back, making them the prime driver of the movement. Or whether the knees go forward, causing the quads to work more during the lift.
There is no right or wrong barbell position, providing your:
- Spine remains in a neutral position at all times.
- Weight stays over the midfoot.
- Torso angle is consistent throughout the entire lift.
Who is most suitable for either barbell position?
Low bar squat is ideal for:
- Lifters adopting a sumo squat stance.
- People with ankle mobility issues.
High bar squat is ideal for:
- Lifters in a regular, more narrow stance.
- People with a longer torso and short femurs.
- Weightlifters — as they must be more vertical when performing movements such as the clean.
If proper squat form is what you’re pursuing. First, you must understand that your biomechanical constraints and body segment proportions will play a part in which stance and barbell position you choose.
Whether you adopt a sumo squat technique with a low bar position, or use a regular more narrow stance back squat technique with a high bar position, ensure your:
- Weight stays in the middle of your feet.
- Spine maintains a neutral position.
- Torso angle remains the same during the entire squat.
By following these squat technique rules, you will give yourself the best chance at maintaining proper squat form with the bar — at all stages of the lift.