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-   -   Width of Legs for Squatting (https://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=6714)

Mark Rippetoe 03-04-2007 07:00 PM

Greg:

"first, the back squat if performed Oly style absolutely transfers to the Oly lifts."

This has been an interest of mine for a while now. Here is an excerpt from a thing I'm working on now, pasted here to save me some time since I've already got it done:

<<<The Olympic squat has been the preferred form of the exercise for Olympic weightlifters for decades. This seems to be largely a matter of tradition and inertia, since there are compelling reasons for using the low-bar position for weightlifters too. Since the squat is not a contested lift in weightlifting, and since Olympic lifters front squat to directly reinforce the squat clean anyway, the reasons for doing it in training for weightlifters must involve other considerations. The squat makes you strong, and weightlifting is a strength sport; even if it is terribly dependent on technique, the winner is still the one that lifts the most weight. The high-bar position may be harder, but the low-bar position is easier on the lower back, uses more muscle, allows more weight to be lifted, and consequently prepares the lifter for heavier weights.
It is also more applicable to the mechanics of Olympic weightlifting than the high-bar squat. The low-bar position, with the weight sitting just below the spine of the scapula, is the same as the mechanics of the position in which the bar is pulled off of the floor. As the discussions of pulling mechanics in the deadlift and power clean chapters have illustrated, the shoulder blades are directly above the bar when it leaves the floor, and they stay there until the back changes position when the bar rises above the knees. (This is true for both the clean and the snatch, with the snatch being done from a position even less similar to the Olympic squat than the clean.) Low-bar squats done utilizing this same relative position will train the movement pattern more directly than the high-bar version, which places the back at a higher angle due to the higher position of the bar on the traps, and the scapulas behind the position they are in during a pull. And they do it through a nice, long range of motion due to the fact that the squat goes deeper than the start position of either the snatch or the clean and jerk.>>>

I am interested in how your interpretation of the Oly squat differs from mine. Also, merely widening the stance does not produce a "powerlifting " squat, just a wider stance squat.

Rip

Veronica Carpenter 03-04-2007 08:06 PM

[i], merely widening the stance does not produce a "powerlifting " squat, just a wider stance squat. [/i]

I concur. There is a lot of variance in squat width between OLer's. Chinese typically squat very narrow.

Guest2 03-05-2007 02:29 PM

RE width - absolutely, and if something i said was interpreted to mean the only difference between a PL and OL squat was the foot width, i was not clear. that is, however, one difference (by and large competitive PLers use wider foot placement than their OLer counterparts), the others pertaining more to bar placement, depth and the movement/position of the hips (i.e. PL squat involves more backward hip displacement and lower bar to pull in more of the posterior chain).

i agree that the low bar backsquat does mimic the hip/back positions of the OL pulls, and don't disagree that it's a potential variation to throw into the mix from time to time, but if the goal is improving the pull, i would more often opt for clean/snatch pulls or deadlifts, and if posterior chain focus is really sought after, i would lean (pun intended) more toward SLDL and RDLs.

so bottom line, the high bar, upright torso, quad-centric Oly squat i see as primarily intended for improving the squat segment of the clean (and the snatch to some extent), while pulls/deads address the pull more directly. again, though, variation from cycle to cycle always allows for that low bar squat to find a place from time to time, as well as things typically saved for PLing such as box squats (heresy!).

in my experience, the limiting factor of the clean for the majority of lifters is not the pull, but rising from the squat, so with that in mind, heavy front squatting seems to be the order. so i don't see an overwhelming need for performing low bar squats expressly to improve pulling mechanics/strength, although again, variety is needed time to time.

if a lifter's time and recovery ability dictate greater than usual limitations on exercises in a cycle, i will opt for high bar squatting always. if there is room for more variety, i'm not at all averse to throwing in a lower bar squat.

i'm curious to hear the remainder of your position on this though--that is, where in weightlifting programming you see the low bar squat's place.

by the way, read practical programming finally this weekend - excellent work as always.

Guest2 03-05-2007 02:37 PM

just to clarify, since i'm really rushing through my responses, is i think we're talking about the transferability/usuefulness of the two squat variants to two different components of the o-lifts, i.e. the high-bar oly squat -> squat portion of the lifts and the low bar squar -> pull portion of the lifts.

if that's not right, then i really need to consider reducing my pcp intake.

Mark Rippetoe 03-05-2007 03:16 PM

"i'm curious to hear the remainder of your position on this though--that is, where in weightlifting programming you see the low bar squat's place."

My position is that since we don't squat as a competitive lift in OL, the squat is done because it makes you stronger. Stronger is better, and that should not require an explanation, even for the guys at the OTC. Low bar squats make you stronger for OL than high bar squats because you can squat more weight in a position that more closely applies to the positions encountered in OL. My position is that transferability is higher from low-bar squats than high-bar, and that front squats are already doing their job specific to the clean.

I'm curious about this: "so bottom line, the high bar, upright torso, quad-centric Oly squat i see as primarily intended for improving the squat segment of the clean (and the snatch to some extent), while pulls/deads address the pull more directly." Why does this explain the high-bar squats usefulness?

Mike ODonnell 03-05-2007 04:04 PM

So what I am getting so far is thus..to keep it simplistic as possible (since that is how I roll...)

Back Squat - best for strength/mass due to ability to handle larger weights. Go low bar placement. Also directly relates to a pull in the DL/Clean/Snatch.

Front Squat - useful to improve OL lifts by working the catching segment

Where does the OH squat fit in with this arguement? Along side the FS?


Guest2 03-05-2007 05:03 PM

stronger is better of course--even I understand that. but the key is where/how that strength can be applied. i'm not arguing a low bar squat will not deliver strength improvements in the pull, nor in the squat. but i think because of the different hip/back position in the clean vs low bar squat, the low bar squat is not as useful for developing strength for the portion of the clean in which the lifter is rising from the bottom. i agree that the low bar squat can and will improve the strength for the PULL of the clean, but as i said in my last post, i don't see a huge need for that since much of the time lifters' pulling strength is already relatively greater than their front squatting strength - it does me no good to be able to rack 150 kg if i can only stand up with 130 kg.

so in a lifter whose pull is weaker than his front squat, i see more usefulness for the low bar squat, although i would still contest that a better movement for that purpose would be deadlifts or clean pulls since it more closely resembles the movement we're attempting to strengthen. as a variation, the low bar would be a good substitute, but i would not consider it a primary movement.

as far as absolute load in a movement, i can quarter squat a lot more than i can a2a squat--but that doesn't mean that squatting only 1/4 depth with a ****load of weight is the best way to develop strength in a full depth squat. it does have some good benefits, particulary if done explosively, for the 2nd pull of the lifts and drive of the jerk, but that's an entirely different goal.

so am i correct in saying that if, for example, a weightlifter is currently front squatting 2X/week and back squatting 1X/week, you'd prefer to see that back squat of the low-bar variety? i wouldn't necessarily disagree with that--it could be a good way to add more post chain development, help strengthen the back to prevent leaning during front squats/cleans, and contribute to pulling strength. however, this is only useful if the aforedescribed is a problem for a given lifter.

"I'm curious about this: "so bottom line, the high bar, upright torso, quad-centric Oly squat i see as primarily intended for improving the squat segment of the clean (and the snatch to some extent), while pulls/deads address the pull more directly." Why does this explain the high-bar squats usefulness?"

because usefulness is dependent on specific goals, e.g. in this case, improving the ability of the lifter to rise from a clean, so unless a lifter pulls the bar high enough to rack his clean on his back and low (as has been done in competition at least once), the low bar back squat's transferability is not as great as a high bar back squat which is not as great as a front squat.

for the clean the front squat is a superior strength developer (and it doesn't sound like you're arguing with that) because it's as close to the clean movement as we can come without cleaning. to help improve the front squat, occasional back squatting is one option because greater loading can be used. there are 2 choices here: high bar or low bar. the low bar will offer a chance for even greater loading, but i'm not yet convinced that greater load will deliver benefits great enough to eclipse the difference in movement patterns between it and the clean/FS. the low bar squat is so much stronger because of the ability to pull in more contribution of the posterior chain - but that itself will not drive greater strength in the FS/clean because in those lifts, the possible contribution of the posterior chain is limited by the necessarily upright torso. no doubt the greater loading will drive strength that will transfer at least somewhat to the clean/FS, but again, i'm just not sure it will be more than can be transfered from a high bar back squat.

now all of this is based on the low-bar back squat having both a smaller ROM for the hips/knees than the front squat and a greater possible contribution of the posterior chain than the front squat. if i'm not correct on the ROM, than i'm closer to agreeing with you.

but still i'm not clear on your programming suggestions with the low bar BS--how would you combine it with front squatting, and when in a cycle or lifter's career would it be used?

Mark Rippetoe 03-05-2007 06:38 PM

This seems to be the sticking point: "i'm not arguing a low bar squat will not deliver strength improvements in the pull, nor in the squat. but i think because of the different hip/back position in the clean vs low bar squat, the low bar squat is not as useful for developing strength for the portion of the clean in which the lifter is rising from the bottom." What I'm saying is that the hip/back position in the clean vs. the low-bar squat is the same. Look at the back angle of the clean AS IT LEAVES THE FLOOR and compare that with the back angle in the low-bar squat, and you will find that the low-bar squat is more similar to the pull than the high-bar squat. Look at the video, don't just assume, because you're not pulling from the position you think you are.

As has been said already, the FS is for the clean AFTER the rack, that's already being trained, and the FS is sufficient for this aspect of the clean. The high-bar squat is intermediate between the two. Since it is not specific to either position, the pull or the front squat out of the clean, why do it? If your argument is that high-bar is harder, I would say that harder is not necessarily better either; like your statement that a quarter squat uses more weight but that it doesn't transfer, the fact that the high-bar is harder is not really an argument for its use any more than would be an argument to squat on a swiss ball. The low-bar squat uses more posterior chain, allows the use of heavier weights at (amazingly enough) full range of motion, and more closely duplicates the back angle of the clean pull, and for that matter the snatch pull, than the high-bar squat does.

As far as programming it, I advocate using the low-bar in place of the high-bar. Where the program says "squat", put the bar just below the spine of the scapulas and squat. I'm saying don't do high-bar squats.

As for the OH squat fitting in here, Greg and I weren't talking about the OH squat.

Mike ODonnell 03-05-2007 07:23 PM

"As for the OH squat fitting in here, Greg and I weren't talking about the OH squat."

I know...just threw it in there to get some thoughts on whether it was worth it from a OL or Strength POV.

Great Discussion otherwise.

Guest2 03-05-2007 10:06 PM

"What I'm saying is that the hip/back position in the clean vs. the low-bar squat is the same. Look at the back angle of the clean AS IT LEAVES THE FLOOR and compare that with the back angle in the low-bar squat, and you will find that the low-bar squat is more similar to the pull than the high-bar squat. Look at the video, don't just assume, because you're not pulling from the position you think you are. "

I understand that, and I'm not arguing it. I know where a lifter's back and hips are in the pull--as I've said a few times, I'm not arguing that a high bar squat position is at all similar to the pull of either the clean or snatch, nor am i arguing that the low bar squat is not superior to the high bar squat for improving PULLING strength. I know I look a little dumb, but I'm not quite that bad.

I'm not talking about the pull, I'm talking about the squat. What I'm saying is that I'm not sure it's better for improving the strength to rise from the bottom of a clean.

I would still ask - Why use the low bar squat to improve the pulling strength of the clean when you have available deadlifts and pulls? By placing the bar on the back, you're eliminating the need for some of the upper back and shoulder musculature to support the load as it would in a real pull, so you're reducing the number of benefits of the exercise as compared to a pull/deadlift.

And again, most lifters in my experience can pull and rack more than they can stand up with. That being the case, why the greater concern with improving the pulling strength over the squatting strength? And the question I asked above--why use a squat to improve pulling strength when you can use similar movements, also which can be performed with huge loads.

Also, the limits of the pull in a clean are greatly dependent on technique as well as strength, and I think it's more common for a clean to be missed on the pull due to technique mistakes than inadequate strength (e.g. bar drifting from the body and crashing into the rack, pulling the T-spine down)--the height to which the bar must be pulled is so minimal as is the distance the lifter must travel in the 3rd pull as compared to the snatch--even a lifter with a weak 2nd pull can rack a very heavy clean with an aggressive 3rd pull.

So - It's clear you believe I'm adamantly opposed to performing low bar back squats. I'm really not. I'm open to experimenting, but my experimentation would be 1) during a basic strength cycle, not anywhere near compettion; and 2) to try to improve the front squat strength, not that of the clean pull.

If pulling strength is the problem, not front squatting strength, I would be inclined to take out the back squats of our imaginary program all together and replace them with pulls and deads instead of simply switching to a low bar back squat.


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