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The High-Bar and Low-Bar Back-Squats

A Biomechanical Analysis

Glassbrook, Daniel J.1; Brown, Scott R.1; Helms, Eric R.1; Duncan, Scott1; Storey, Adam G.1,2

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue - p S1–S18
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001836
Original Research

Glassbrook, DJ, Brown, SR, Helms, ER, Duncan, S, and Storey, AG. The high-bar and low-bar back-squats: a biomechanical analysis. J Strength Cond Res 33(7S): S1–S18, 2019—No previous study has compared the joint angle and ground reaction force (vertical force [Fv]) differences between the high-bar back-squat (HBBS) and low-bar back-squat (LBBS) above 90% 1 repetition maximum (1RM). Six male powerlifters (POW) (height: 179.2 ± 7.8 cm; mass: 87.1 ± 8.0 kg; age: 21–33 years) of international level, 6 male Olympic weightlifters (OLY) (height: 176.7 ± 7.7 cm; mass: 83.1 ± 13 kg; age: 22–30 years) of national level, and 6 recreationally trained male athletes (height: 181.9 ± 8.7 cm; mass: 87.9 ± 15.3 kg; age: 23–33 years) performed the LBBS, HBBS, and both LBBS and HBBS (respectively) up to and including 100% 1RM. Small to moderate (d = 0.2–0.5) effect size differences were observed between the POW and OLY in joint angles and Fv, although none were statistically significant. However, significant joint angle results were observed between the experienced POW/OLY and the recreationally trained group. Our findings suggest that practitioners seeking to place emphasis on the stronger hip musculature should consider the LBBS. Also, when the goal is to lift the greatest load possible, the LBBS may be preferable. Conversely, the HBBS is more suited to replicate movements that exhibit a more upright torso position, such as the snatch and clean, or to place more emphasis on the associated musculature of the knee joint.

1Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand; and

2High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ), Auckland, New Zealand

Address correspondence to Daniel J. Glassbrook,

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.