High Bar Squat vs. Low Bar Squat: Which is Best For Your Workout Routine?

high bar squatIf you are hoping to get fit and build muscles, especially in your lower body, the squat definitely needs to be a part of your exercise routine. Done correctly and with added weights, squats will also work your entire body to produce great results. But done incorrectly, they can actually do more harm than good. And with so many different types of squats to choose from, if you are not working under the guidance of a personal trainer or coach, you may not only be doing an inappropriate workout for your body, but you may also be using improper form. Therefore, taking a class at the gym or enrolling in an intense program you can follow at home will teach you how to exercise to get the fastest and healthiest results.

Two popular types of squats are the high bar squat and the low bar squat, both of which use a large barbell that adds even more resistance to give you bigger muscles in a shorter amount of time. By incorporating weights into your squatting routine, you will also be working your upper body at the same time as your lower body, getting a more comprehensive workout than you would get from doing a traditional squat without any added resistance. 

What is a High Bar Squat?

The high bar squat is also commonly referred to as the Olympic squat, and it is the type of squat used most by bodybuilders. If you are enrolled in a fitness program that is meant to build up muscles throughout the body, you are probably sure to experience the high bar squat. During this squat, the barbell is set so that it rests across the top of your upper trapezius muscles. Positioning the barbell in this manner will ensure you are more easily able to maintain a more upright position with your torso to prevent injuries and unnecessary strain on the body.

When Should You Choose a High Bar Squat?

Because you are able to maintain a more upright torso during a high bar squat, this exercise is highly recommended for individuals who want to build up their quadricep muscles so that they can show off their legs. Both men and women can benefit from stronger leg muscles, and toned quadriceps are sexy and prove you work hard for the body you are proud of showing off.

The deeper you squat, the more range of motion your hips and knees will experience during a high bar squat. The best way to execute this type of squat is with a lower weight on the barbell and more repetitions. This will allow you to keep your body working for longer periods of time, giving you fast results and improved endurance.

What is a Low Bar Squat?

The low bar squat is used most often by powerlifters. The barbell is placed across your shoulder blades, rhomboids, and middle trapezius muscles. Placing the barbell in this manner will cause your torso to move forward a bit, which is completely normal but it might take some practice to ensure you are hitting the correct angle with your body in order to prevent injuries.

When Should You Choose a Low Bar Squat?

Because your torso will be positioned more forward during a low bar squat, you can really focus in on the muscles throughout your lower body. This makes it an effective exercise for those who need to firm up the entire lower part of the body, from the lower back to the hips and leg muscles.

If you have trouble with your ankles, particularly when it comes to ankle mobility, the positioning of a low bar squat will allow you to execute the move correctly without any added strain or discomfort. Once again, this is because the focus is placed more on the hips. Also, if you have good shoulder mobility, the low bar squat would be an effective workout that will also be safe.

Low bar squats are great for women who need to tone up their hamstrings because this type of squat focuses a lot of energy on the hips and backs of the thighs. Because most women have much stronger quadriceps than hamstrings, the low bar squat is an effective way to balance the muscles of the upper legs and get those hamstrings strong, along with the hips. This will, in turn, slim your legs and hips.

Making the Most of Both

Whether you choose the high bar squat or the low bar squat, you will be getting a great workout. For those who do not have any physical limitations, incorporating both of these types of squats into a strength building routine is a great way to add variety and keep your body guessing. During the same workout session, you can alternate between high bar squats and low bar squats in order to work your body in different ways and ensure you are hitting every muscle possible.

When to Avoid High Bar and Low Bar Squats

If, however, you are suffering from injuries, especially shoulder injuries, you should avoid both high bar and low bar squats. You can instead try a traditional squat without any weights or a front squat with weights. If you absolutely cannot perform any types of squats because of injury or because your body is not strong enough yet to execute them properly, consider a different exercise style, such as a kickboxing routine, that will help you get lean, toned muscles that are perfectly primed for the many different types of squats out there.

Before incorporating squats into your fitness routine, whether you work out at home or at the gym, be sure to take the time to really learn how to execute them correctly. This will ensure you can enjoy a safe, effective workout with minimal risk of injury. If you are ready to add even more interesting exercises into your fitness routine to spice things up, check out this blog post, which features exercises you can do using a fitness ball. And if you are really ready to take your workout to the next level, a course that teaches you how to build muscle, lose fat, and be healthy will certainly be a worthwhile investment that will teach you workout routines you can use every day.