are high bar squats useless

Should You Ever High Bar Squat?

Starting Strength Coach Grant Broggi explains what the high bar squat is, how it differs from the low bar squat, and why anyone would ever want to consider using this over the low bar.

High Bar vs. Low Bar Squat: Who Should High Bar Squat?

When it comes to squatting, the debate between high bar and low bar is ongoing. At The Strength Co., we generally recommend the low bar squat for its benefits in engaging more muscle mass and reducing pressure on the knees. However, there are specific situations where a high bar squat might be more appropriate or necessary.

Understanding High Bar Squat

The high bar squat positions the bar higher on the traps and maintains a more vertical back angle. This variation is less about loading the hips and more about maintaining balance and verticality, which can be beneficial under certain conditions.

Who Should Consider High Bar Squatting?

1. Individuals with Shoulder Restrictions:

If you have tight shoulders or experience pain when positioning the bar in the low bar spot, high bar squatting can be a good alternative. This is often seen in older individuals or those who have had previous shoulder injuries. High bar squatting can alleviate the stress on the shoulders, making it a more comfortable option.

2. Weightlifters:

Athletes who participate in Olympic weightlifting may prefer the high bar squat because it more closely mimics the positions found in the clean and jerk and snatch. The high bar squat helps train the body to maintain a vertical back under load, which is crucial for these lifts.

3. Experienced Lifters Seeking Variation:

If you've been lifting for a while and are looking for some variation in your routine, incorporating high bar squats on lighter days or as a part of a varied training program can provide a mental break and new challenges. This can help keep training interesting and engaging.

When to Stick with Low Bar Squats

Despite the specific uses of high bar squats, low bar remains the recommended standard for general strength training at The Strength Co. It allows for greater overall muscle engagement, particularly in the posterior chain, and is generally more effective for developing raw strength.


While low bar squats are generally preferred for their efficiency in building strength, high bar squats have their place in a well-rounded training regimen, especially for those with specific needs or goals. Understanding when and how to use each can help enhance your training outcomes and keep you lifting safely and effectively. Remember, the best squat is the one that you can perform consistently and without pain.

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