Low-Bar Squat Uses More Muscle?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Glen

Level 7 Valued Member
@Kettlebelephant

That's the thing. I didn't mention deadlifts. Nor did (I think) the original post.

It might be a person isn't or can't deadlift, perhaps because of injury, or their current cycle. Therefore, is after a squat that is going to give them the most bang for their buck in terms of all over strength and muscle development.

I have no bias in this, or preference, just trying to figure out the answer like everyone else.
If heaviest weight, most muscles and largest range of motion were the keys would we not benefit from dropping the squat altogether and focus on doing deficit trap bar deadlift - for me I get similar ROM to low bar squatting but shift a lot more weight.

This seems to be a focus on minutiae for me -choose a squat stance that suits your body and get stronger in it and results will likely be pretty close either way.

The one advantage I think low bar squatting offers the 'everyman' whose goal is to be strong for life it it better teaches someone how to optimise body position to maximally express force - strength is a skill and this skill translates to dealing with stuff in everyday life a little better IMO
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
The one advantage I think low bar squatting offers the 'everyman' whose goal is to be strong for life it it better teaches someone how to optimise body position to maximally express force - strength is a skill and this skill translates to dealing with stuff in everyday life a little better IMO
I respectfully disagree. I think bending down to pick something up from the floor is pretty basic.

If heaviest weight, most muscles and largest range of motion were the keys would we not benefit from dropping the squat altogether and focus on doing deficit trap bar deadlift - for me I get similar ROM to low bar squatting but shift a lot more weight.
Lots of people do like the trap bar deadlift, but I think more people substitute it for a deadlift than for a squat.

-S-
 

mikerobinson

Level 2 Valued Member
This seems to be a focus on minutiae for me -choose a squat stance that suits your body and get stronger in it and results will likely be pretty close either way.
Sound Advice.

I think, as I'm not an instructor, nor an elite athlete, it's possible to get too much information.
 

Glen

Level 7 Valued Member
I respectfully disagree. I think bending down to pick something up from the floor is pretty basic.


Lots of people do like the trap bar deadlift, but I think more people substitute it for a deadlift than for a squat.

-S-
Agreed with your points but was meaning - out of the squats low bar teaches leveraging your body better than the others.

On the point of trap bar being a deadlift I agree but it seems people like to distill things down to ' the one best' or the 'single optimal' exercise.

Personally when competing in powerlifting I did the following

- trained my squat high bar until about six to eight weeks out and swap to low bar to dial in technique as I optimised performance. Found training high bar to produce a better training effect and was able to recover from it better.

Same with deadlifts - did conventional and often deficit as man body of training then did sumo or standard range deads in competition as I optimised performance.

Performance and training are not the same thing to me
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Glen, you trained in the way you found most effective at enhancing your performance, and that included paying attention to your recovery. Sounds like very good thinking and planning on your part.

-S-
 

305pelusa

Level 6 Valued Member
If Rippetoe is correct that the low bar squat uses the most muscle mass and, because it uses the most weight, should produce the most strength gain. As result, "common sense" would say that the low bar squat should have the most carryover to general athletic endeavors.
Dude you're taking a huuuge leap here. Why would the exercise that builds the most strength have the most carryover to athletic endeavors?

The FSQ builds requires so much outstanding mobility in every joint that it's not surprising at all to me that those who excel at it also excel in athletics. Honestly it's pretty logical don't you think?

But let's be honest: the low bar squat is not a natural squat. It needs to be taught and for many their first experience with it is discomfort.
I think the least natural is the front squat. You're loading a structure that is not meant to be loaded at all (the acromion). It requires full hip mobility and better than normal ankle mobility. The FSQ is a squat you have to actually take the time to learn really well and build the mobility for. And even then, most can't even do it safely without a shoe to help you. So not natural and certainly not beginner friendly.

It also takes a huge toll on your sternum and clavicles. This is an extremely common problem with O lifters (exacerbated by the clean of course).


I certainly don't have the teaching experience of seeing what squat teaches best but seeing as how the LBSQ with an emphasis on sitting back gets taught first by all linear progression systems (as well as Pavel and SFL... Let's not forgot those fellas!), then I assume it's an easier entry point.

Personally I find the bar on my scapula to be very comfortable as opposed to crushing my traps or throat. But I have next to zero experience squatting. That's just one data point haha
 

305pelusa

Level 6 Valued Member
I respectfully disagree. I think bending down to pick something up from the floor is pretty basic.
I don't think @Glen was saying it wasn't. But that if you had to, the LBSQ groove is the best choice.

I personally agree. I wouldn't pick something off like a Straight leg DL (very stiff knees) nor really upright from a deep squat like the FSQ. Probably somewhere in between by using my hips. So a "deep DL" which is virtually the same as a LBSQ.
 

Rif

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
I don't disagree with this idea, but I'm not sure the front squat uses more quads.

Even if the low bar back squat is "posterior dominant" as they say, the quads are under heavy load. For once, the knee is extending. But additionally, both the hamstrings and calves are trying to bend the knee, so the quad is working against those muscles too, being the only knee extensor. Knee flexion range of motion is a lot less for sure.
The more the knee translates forward ( ankle dorsiflexion) the more the quads are involved. Are the quads involved in a hinge style power squat? absolutely. Are they as involved as in an Oly style hi bar squat? not even close.
 

Rif

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
@MikeTheBear

Thank you for the post. If I've understood you correctly, you are stating that the front squat may be superior for the legs, and may have the greatest carry over to athletic performance.

However, what if a person didn't prioritise those two things. What if they wanted the most 'bang for their buck' from one exercise for either all over body strength or building all over muscle mass, not just the legs? And they weren't interested in sport performance or competing in powerlifting.

Aren't we back to beginning: the HB or LB or somewhere in between per @Rif (and actually per Andy Bolton) for generating all over strength or muscle?
for total body muscle mass as well as strength the squat rules all
 

Rif

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
the problem is that in the FSQ the limiting factor as to absolute load as well as repetition selection variety is the ability of the shoulders and upper back to maintain the load. there is no real "rest" place as in a high bar squat where you can achieve "bone support"
Plus it's very very hard to breathe at all in a heavy front squat so rep ranges are limited to very low reps

But wouldn't it be better to use the FSQ, because it uses more quads if you're already doing deadlifts?
Why would you do 2 lifts that use a lot of posterior chain and relatively little anterior chain if you could do one that uses mainly anterior and one that uses mainly posterior chain?

The following is just an exegerated example so please don't take it too literally.
The triceps makes up the bulk of your upper arm size (~2/3), while the biceps only takes up 1/3.
If you want big and strong upper arms would you rather do 1 biceps and 1 triceps exercise or just 2 tricep exercises?
 

305pelusa

Level 6 Valued Member
Also, please compare the musculature of the average olympic weightlifter with that of the average powerlifter. Not even close. Weightlifter and high bar squat wins
How are you making this comparison exactly?

Could you link me to the study or source so I could compare them? If I had to bet, I would've thought them pretty damn close (if not bigger for PLers actually). Oh well.

Thanks.
The more the knee translates forward ( ankle dorsiflexion) the more the quads are involved. Are the quads involved in a hinge style power squat? absolutely. Are they as involved as in an Oly style hi bar squat? not even close.
Could you also post this source? All I find are a couple of studies that say low bar and high bar have statistically insignificant differences in force vectors about the knee.

Don't mean to sound mocking at all (although I know it comes across as like that, it's really not!). I thought that different muscle activations from the various squats were more bro science and not supported so I'd love to read about it :D
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
My two cents based on recent use of RLESS, I can feel a difference depending on how far my drive foot is from the support foot. Overall the difference is not great though, and I recall from my barbell days the difference with bar placement is really is not all that great either.

As for more useful in day to day, if I have to go low to pick somethin gup and don't have clearance for my knees I use a DL posture. If I can track my knees forward I use a squat, probably much more similar to a Zircher.

I also agree with @ 305pelusa re front squat - is probably the most "unnatural" of the squat variations.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
So a "deep DL" which is virtually the same as a LBSQ.
If you watch what you're calling a deep DL, I think you'll find the bar doesn't leave the ground in almost every case until the hips are above the knees. The powerlifting style of squat does have more in common with the deadlift and may be the ultimate deadlift assistance exercise, IMO.

As to quad involvement and the knee moving forward, I think this is easy to fee first-hand. One of the reasons we don't teach a squatty style of swing, with a lot of forward knee movement, is that it loads the hamstrings less. Maximum posterior chain involvement comes from pushing back into your hips while keeping your shins vertical or nearly so, and keeping your back straight. The posterior chain becomes like a drawn bow.

-S-
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rif

Rif

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
How are you making this comparison exactly?

Could you link me to the study or source so I could compare them? If I had to bet, I would've thought them pretty damn close (if not bigger for PLers actually). Oh well.

Thanks.


Could you also post this source? All I find are a couple of studies that say low bar and high bar have statistically insignificant differences in force vectors about the knee.

Don't mean to sound mocking at all (although I know it comes across as like that, it's really not!). I thought that different muscle activations from the various squats were more bro science and not supported so I'd love to read about it :D
No studies just 30+ years in the gym obsessed with squats powerlifting and Olympic lifting. Go to any Oly meet or power meet and the difference is very obvious.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
If you watch what you're calling a deep DL, I think you'll find the bar doesn't leave the ground in almost every case until the hips are above the knees.
Is this true if pulling from a deficit? In my case this is not true. I've done snatch grip DLs, which are a form of deficit DL, and I definitely tried to keep my hips low.

Incidentally, Charles Poliquin thinks that a snatch grip DL from a deficit (yes, you use a snatch grip and pull from a deficit) is one of the best exercises you can do.
 

Rif

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Pulling with a snatch grip, whether off the floor or a deficit is a different style of pull that a power lift dl
the key component to an olympic style pull is to essentially squat the weight off the floor and maintain the hip/back angle when the bar is at the knee the same as it was off the floor( to prepare for the second pull)

It's essentially knee extension off the floor until the bar is at the knee, THEN into back/ hip extension for the second pull
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
It's essentially knee extension off the floor until the bar is at the knee, THEN into back/ hip extension for the second pull
This is how Rippetoe teaches the LBBS - lead with your hips, then your torso.


So for a non-powerlifter, wouldn't a deficit Olympic pull or snatch-grip DL be better than the LBBS since those lifts use even more muscle by incorporating the lats and grip? This assumes the lifter has the mobility to do a snatch-grip DL, but that's not hard to develop.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rif

Rif

Level 6 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
This is how Rippetoe teaches the LBBS - lead with your hips, then your torso.


So for a non-powerlifter, wouldn't a deficit Olympic pull or snatch-grip DL be better than the LBBS since those lifts use even more muscle by incorporating the lats and grip? This assumes the lifter has the mobility to do a snatch-grip DL, but that's not hard to develop.
Is it better? "it depends " :) there is no one best primary exercise for each individual. Each person has to discover that for themselves.

For me I can military press for tons of volume with a big arch and wake up fine the next day. OTOH just a few relatively heavy deads can make much lumbar area 'touchy' to me for a few days.
It depends

It's interesting, and ironic to me, that the Starting strength squat technique does indeed mimic a deadlift technique as it is focused on hip drive ( hinge) and not a 'squat pattern" as I would term it

Louie Simmons used to tell me he thought the power squat was perhaps one of the best special exercises for an Oly lifters snatch :)

As far as what lifts a non competitor should do I also would say all humans should at least be familiar and be able to maintain with some variant of all the primal patterns. Notice I said maintain not necessarily train progessively
I do a lot of squats but it's not a pattern I train as a "lift" any longer

squat
lunge
push
pull
bend
twist
gait

which variation depends ....
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
Louie Simmons used to tell me he thought the power squat was perhaps one of the best special exercises for an Oly lifters snatch
I have heard this argument from Rippetoe as well. The idea is that in the LBBS the back angle is the same as in the first pull of the snatch so it mimics the first pull. You know what other exercise uses the same back angle as the first pull of the snatch? Snatch grip DL. And it's sport specific. What's better: a sport specific lift or one that "mimics" a lift?

For the record, taking advice on Olympic lifting from Simmons is like taking advice on meat from a vegetarian. I've read the reviews about Simmons' $70 book on Olympic lifting. No reputable OL coach took the book seriously and Simmons' stock plummeted.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rif

Abdul-Rasheed

Level 6 Valued Member
Not sure if this has been discussed yet or even relevant to the thread. As for LBBS or HBBS doesn't individual differences or anthropometry of a person play role too? A person with short femur and long torso for example would find it easier to find the depth in HBBS or FSQ? A person with long femur and short torso I think LBBS may come naturally to him? I am new to these exercises and the only barbell squat I am used to is Zercher due to lack of rack in my office gym. In the SFL 1-day course I recently attended StrongFirst instructor Phil Scarito did not emphasis one over the other. He said do what you feel comfortable with, if I am not misquoting him.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rif
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom