Coaches CornerPowerlifting

LOW BAR BACK RACK (and the pressure grip)

Low Bar Back Rack


If you’re totally new to squatting, start with this Starting Strength article by Mark Rippetoe.  It will give you some much needed background on the Back Squat.  Once you know what’s up, move on and read what I have written specifically about the low bar rack position and the pressure grip.


If you want to be as strong as possible, you have to Squat!  Assuming you are a typical human squatting animal, you’ll need to master the low bar Back Squat.  The coaching advice I have for you is short and sweet, but it will take some time for you to develop this position, so be patient.


The problem with learning the low bar rack position is that it’s usually really uncomfortable at first.  Even if you can sort of get into the position — it might hurt your wrists or shoulders, or both.


So let’s handle both, starting with the wrists.


When setting up the low bar rack, put your hands on the bar with your thumbs on top of the bar using the pressure grip (suicide grip).  This will make it easier for you to keep your wrists neutral AND you’ll have more leverage to pull the bar into your back.  Do not allow your wrists to break backward at any time.  This will save you from hurting your wrists, and worse, looking ridiculous.


Keeping the bar in the squat rack, drive your body under the bar and up, and lock the bar into your back, somewhere between the shoulder blades.  If your shoulder flexibility sucks, you’ll need a wide grip.  A wider grip will accommodate inflexibility in the shoulders today, and as long as you stick to the tips in this post, your flexibility will improve over time.


It will take practice to keep your wrists neutral and in a strong position while you squat.  You will have to fight for the position.


Fight for it!  It’s worth it.


Point your knuckles at the wall in front of you and own it.  This is everything.


As you fight for wrist position, don’t let the bar roll up your back.  That will cause your back to collapse into flexion, and that’s bad.  Instead, keep your shoulders back and down, your back flat, and your spine neutral.


If you really struggle with the shoulder flexibility portion, you’re going to have to do back rack holds as a pre-workout stretching exercise.  Set up the lowest rack you can, and hold it for 2 minutes.  Repeat as many times as necessary, and work your hands closer together each time to tighten up your rack.


Once you own the position, unrack the bar.  Push your back into the bar while simultaneously bending the bar across your back.


That’s it.  The low bar Squat with the pressure grip.  Brace and Squat heavy.  Have fun.


– Jason

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