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Back angle at the bottom of the squat

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by Yuan

This article will be an add-on to my previous post about hip drive. I’m going to talk about the back angle at the bottom of the squat. Throughout the squat, your back angle should remain constant for the most part. The one exception is when you’re just coming out of the hole. You can see what I’m talking about in the following video at 1:18-1:20:

Back angle changes slightly as you squat out of the hole

For about an inch from the bottom, your back angle will change slightly and your knees will pull back a bit. This is inevitable if you use your hips and the stretch reflex correctly. Here is another example:

Different proportions create different levels of change

For most people, the slight angle change will take place whether they’re using high bar, low bar or even the front squat. This dynamic will look different depending on your physical proportions and squatting style. Captain Kirk in the video above was squatting low bar and he has long femurs with a relatively short torso, which makes it especially apparent.

On the other side of this spectrum, Idalberto Arranda uses a high bar squat and he has short femurs with a long torso. As a result, it’s barely noticeable (look at how his knees pull back first and then look for the slight back angle change out of the hole):

This weightlifter also has those proportions:

Back angle in multi-ply geared lifting

Multi-ply geared lifting becomes an exception because the technique is different. The suit helps you get out of the hole and hip drive is no longer performed in the same way. You can take an ultra wide stance, keep the torso very upright and eliminate any angle change at the bottom. Doing raw squats with a monolift will also let you take advantage of a wider stance. You’ll find that lifters will use a narrower stance in federations where you have to walk out the weight and hit a lower depth.

Beware of trolls and ignorant lifters

Just like everything, it can be done incorrectly but the low bar squat gets more ignorant criticism than any other form of squatting. This is important to keep in mind if you’re a beginner or intermediate lifter. Posting a video of yourself squatting on mainstream forums for advice will probably get you ignorant criticism.

Videos of beginners or intermediates squatting low bar commonly gets response along the lines of:

“I only saw a set of good mornings, where are the squats lulz.”

“My back hurts from just watching that, that’s so bad for you.” (remember the crowd that said breaking parallel was bad for your knees?)

“I tried low bar, never figured out how to do it properly but I used heavy weights anyways and hurt myself. So it wasn’t for me…and it’s not for you either, you should just do high bar or front squats. I don’t know or care about your goals and preferences, high bar and front squats are just better.”

But these criticisms fade away when a video of Andrey Malanichev squatting 993 lbs using a raw low bar style gets posted. So do a quick search, make sure the forum has competent lifters and coaches on this subject before asking. Starting Strength forums is a great free resource for this.

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