PURPOSE: To examine differences in peak power output between high bar (HBS) and low bar back squats (LBS).
METHODS: Six trained males (25.0 ± 3.1 years, 1.78 ± 0.04 m, 87.6 ± 7.5 kg) with previous squatting experience (experience: 7.5 ± 4.1 years, HBS 1RM: 157.0 ± 15.3 kg, squat/bodyweight: 1.8 ± 0.18) completed the study using a crossover design. Subjects completed a 4-week familiarization phase with both conditions. Peak power data was collected over 2 sessions using dual uniplanar force plates synchronized with 2 string potentiometers on each side of the bar collecting at a sampling frequency of 1000 Hz using a BNC 2110 connector with an analog to digital converter. Subjects were randomly assigned to the HBS or LBS for 1 set of 3 repetitions at 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90% of their most recent HBS training 1RM with 3 to 5 minutes’ rest between sets and >72 hours between testing conditions. A 2x8 repeated measures analysis of variance was used to determine interactions and main effects for condition and load with post-hoc tests conducted for statistical main effects.
RESULTS: Analysis revealed significant main effects for load (p < 0.01) but not for condition. Peak power output was greatest at 70% of HBS 1RM for the LBS, and 80% of HBS 1RM for the HBS.
CONCLUSIONS: According to this pilot data, athletes seeking to increase power production ability should choose a squatting style in which they feel most proficient and comfortable. Furthermore, either the HBS or LBS can be used as the primary squatting movement, or as a secondary movement to provide variation and remove linearity from the training program. However, based on previous research it is likely that sport specific biomechanical parameters will influence the squatting style selection for the majority of athletes who participate in sports that involve jumping, sprinting, and change of direction. Training with loads between 70% and 80% of HBS 1RM may be optimal for increasing power production ability. Further research using a larger population of well-trained athletes is suggested in order to more precisely compare HBS and LBS power outputs.