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Upper body strength for squats


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Hey folks, sorry if this is something that has been covered before!

 

I want to do more barbell stuff in the gym - especially squats/deadlifts. The biggest struggle I have (and one of my fears of the barbell zone) is dropping the weight. Particularly when squatting, I find that it is very difficult to hold the barbell in place across my back when I add any weight and it feels as though I need to spend a long time working on my upper body strength before I can hold enough on the bar to squat a decent amount of weight.

 

Has anyone else experienced this/have any tips??

 

thanks in advance!

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9 hours ago, Surfnicky1 said:

Hey folks, sorry if this is something that has been covered before!

 

I want to do more barbell stuff in the gym - especially squats/deadlifts. The biggest struggle I have (and one of my fears of the barbell zone) is dropping the weight. Particularly when squatting, I find that it is very difficult to hold the barbell in place across my back when I add any weight and it feels as though I need to spend a long time working on my upper body strength before I can hold enough on the bar to squat a decent amount of weight.

 

Has anyone else experienced this/have any tips??

 

thanks in advance!


Hiya! Can you be more specific? What weight are you squatting, and at what weight does it start to feel precarious? Are you attempting low or high bar position, or are you unsure? Are you worried about it rolling backward, or is something else happening? 

I thought the bar was going to roll off at first when I tried to do "low bar". I found it works better and feels super secure if I set the bar a little higher--so it's right on the small shelf formed by my traps (but still below the most prominent vertebra on my neck). It can be further secured by pulling down with my hands so the bar is really trapped (no pun intended). I don't know if you're already strong, but for me, doing overhead presses helped bring up my traps (from a very bony nothing), which created the shelf.

 

But yeah, I haven't figured out where to put the bar for a low bar squat. There doesn't seem to be a similar shelf or anything to rest it on. 

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To be honest I haven’t tried squatting anything particularly heavy because I feel like I can’t keep the weight on my shoulders! Maybe 50kg is the most I’ve tried but yeah - my upper body strength is crap and I feel like I have to pull forward on the weight to stop is falling down my back (I honestly have no idea if it’s high or low).

 

mostly I feel like I’m having to lean forward and push forward with my hands to try and stop the bar falling off

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7 hours ago, Surfnicky1 said:

To be honest I haven’t tried squatting anything particularly heavy because I feel like I can’t keep the weight on my shoulders! Maybe 50kg is the most I’ve tried but yeah - my upper body strength is crap and I feel like I have to pull forward on the weight to stop is falling down my back (I honestly have no idea if it’s high or low).

 

mostly I feel like I’m having to lean forward and push forward with my hands to try and stop the bar falling off


It's hard to know how light 50kg is for you, since I don't know if you're a man or woman, small or large. 50kg would be moderately heavy for me, a medium sized female novice. But it sounds like you're using a low bar squat. You can google pictures of low and high bar squat to confirm. Why not try the high bar squat? As I said, your trapezius muscles should form a shelf when you squeeze your shoulder blades together, or when you take a narrow grip on the barbell. I think you'll find it's very secure. Just don't put the bar above that prominent vertebra at the base of your neck. If you still find it feels precarious, start with a lower weight and work back up. You may just need the repeated experience of the bar not falling off. 

Let cheese and bread and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination.

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BB squats can definitely feel awkward when you're first getting used to them. If you feel like your core/back are having difficulty holding up the weight, that's different from making sure your bar placement is correct. For the former, I'd recommend goblet squats, split squats, or DB front squats to get that core support up to snuff. If it's the latter, consider posting a technique video in the powerlifting forum and see if someone can give you some pointers to make things easier.

 

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Harriet - it sounds like you may be trying to maintain too vertical a back angle during your low bar squats. High bar squats utilize a more vertical back angle than low bar, so as to keep the center of gravity over the middle of your feet. You've got to keep it there during low bar as well, which means a more horizontal back angle.

 

Surfnicky1 - The "upper body" strength required of a squat is going to be primarily in your core. You need to maintain the aforementioned "more horizontal" (but not horizontal, if that makes sense) back angle throughout the lift, without deviating, which would likely improperly load your back. Maintaining the same back angle/position of your spine requires your core, which should be activated. 

 

I would suggest studying some form videos for the low bar squat - I am partial to Mark Rippetoe. 

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