When you graduate from unweighted squats, or simple broom squat practice, to using a bar, the added weight and equipment involved can lead to confusion. This brief introduction will highlight the most important details of the exercise that you should always keep in mind. It may seem like there is a lot to remember, but don’t lose hope. Though it can take years to truly master squats, mastery of weighted squats is, effectively, mastery of your whole body, and the ultimate basis for conquering all your future knee problems.
Before you begin, make sure you have secure supports for your bar, and place your squat box (the platform you will squat to) a few paces back from the bar. This will give you the space to step under the bar, lift it and step back into position over the squat box.
Supporting the bar
The bar can be initially supported in a number of ways, including a power rack/squat rack (this forms a secure structure a little like a cage) or free standing squat stands (which are effectively poles with a secure base). You could even use a pair of high stools, if necessary, but be aware that the more sophisticated equipment you use, the safer it will be.
A proper support should hold the bar in place in with hooks known as J-hooks, so it cannot roll off when you lift or replace the bar.
Placing your hands on the bar
Place your hands at equal distances from the bar’s centre by paying attention to the markings. Using the grip we worked on with the broom, wrap your little finger around the bar and press the pad of the palm section of the thumb into the bar. This should leave your hands at an angle to the bar, with the tips of the fingers touching it. Your wrists should be slightly above the bar and you should drive your elbows back. Keeping your wrist flexors contracted to stop your wrists from bending back will really secure your grip.
Getting into position
To place the bar on your back, once the hands are in position and the elbows are pushed back, walk your feet under the bar before ducking under. Your feet must be positioned under the bar, as you must raise it from underneath, not an angle. Avoid the tendency to raise one elbow higher than the other; it can be a good idea to have someone watch you from time to time to ensure this gets spotted and corrected.
In the correct position, pushing the chest up should be enough to help you lift the bar out of the rack and establish a strong upper back position. The bar will now be securely braced into your back by your firm grip. You can now step back to your squatting platform.
Maintaining the basic squat principles
It’s time to put all our preparation into practice. The bar should be secure and your hands in a tightly maintained position. Next, tuck your chin back and focus on one spot, as you did with unweighted and broom squats.
Descend towards the squat box, trying to keep the bar balanced over the middle of your feet, and your eyes focused on that one spot. Push your knees out, and tilt your pelvis forward to achieve the correct arch in your lower back. Reach the box, pushing your hips backwards, and touch your squatting platform with your hamstrings. Stand again, driving from the hips.
Please watch our video below for a visual demonstration:
If you can remember all these steps, and strive to do them effectively, you will gradually perfect your squat form and increase the weights you lift. If you can perfect the points of this single post, you can perfect how your body moves.