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Brian Stone
10-31-2009, 05:07 PM
I've been doing a strength routine lately and have noticed quite a bit of pain in my shoulders between workouts. I had assumed previously that it was due to heavy use (pressing, chins, BP), but turns out today I realized it's from squatting and the awkward downward pressure it places on my shoulders.

I do a LBBS and I point my elbows back to trap the bar (thumbs on the same side as my 4 fingers). I tried alternate thumb placement today but it did very little to alleviate the shoulder stress. Basically, with my shoulders torqued back somewhat for the required angle, the downward pressure is causing pain. It hasn't been prohibitive of yet to other work, but I don't want to leave it to get worse.

Anyone have suggestions for dealing with this? It could at least partially be a flexibility issue, but it seems that even with better flexibility it can't be great having downward torginol pressure on those joints nonetheless.

Brandon Oto
10-31-2009, 06:10 PM
This is more or less the reason for cambered bars.

Patrick Donnelly
10-31-2009, 06:19 PM
Put the bar where it belongs and watch as the pain vanishes.

Derek Weaver
10-31-2009, 06:33 PM
Couple of questions.

Did you do, or are you still doing a lot of overhead stuff in a sport like baseball or volleyball?

Do you work at a desk all day?

I know Cressey has written some stuff about baseball players, tennis players, volleyball players etc. having trouble with standard back squats and needing to either front squat or use a cambered bar or safety squat bar.

Brian Stone
10-31-2009, 09:07 PM
Patrick: Thanks for stopping by.

Derek: I don't do any kind of overhead sport, but I surely do work at a desk all day.

Gavin Harrison
10-31-2009, 09:50 PM
Move your hands out.

Brian Stone
11-01-2009, 04:43 AM
Move your hands out.

You know, I was just thinking about this this morning and thinking it might be a solution. I have pretty long limbs so I may need to grab the bar closer to the plates to alleviate some of the shoulder stress. Will give this a shot.

Steven Low
11-01-2009, 08:33 AM
Do your shoulder mobility work (to get better flexibility/mobility).

Short term solution is to move the hands out, yeah.

Derek Simonds
11-02-2009, 08:24 AM
Also being longer limbed I have had to find a happy compromise between shoulder pain and getting the most tight compact fit I can under the bar. Play with it and find a comfortable position. My new adjustment is to work the bar a little higher to try and achieve a more upright position. For me it seems squatting is always a work in progress.

Ben Smith
11-02-2009, 01:18 PM
Put the bar where it belongs and watch as the pain vanishes.

Are you advocating a specific different position (HBBS?) or simply pointing out that ideal grip width and angle varies and can sometimes be "felt" better than learnt?

Garrett Smith
11-02-2009, 02:23 PM
Try sticking the chest out more when you are getting into, and while you are holding the position...by doing that, you will be asking your actual shoulder joints to do less movement (since the scapular shift will be doing more). Really pinch those shoulder blades back and together.

Brian Stone
11-02-2009, 02:51 PM
Did a slightly wider grip tonight and that seemed to do the trick, at least in the short run. I'm with Derek in that my squats are always a work in progress; if it's not one thing it seems to be another. Unfortunately, I don't think I have any qualified squat coaches in my gym, but I'm going to see what I can find in the area. I think my best bet is to get some prof coaching on it altogether.

Garrett Smith
11-02-2009, 04:38 PM
Working on anterior capsule stretches/mobilizations would likely help too. I have a major deficit on my right shoulder and that's the side that would tend to get irritated on LBBS.

I may give high bar another shot, now that I've finally developed some semblance of upper trap muscle...

Patrick Donnelly
11-02-2009, 05:07 PM
Are you advocating a specific different position (HBBS?) or simply pointing out that ideal grip width and angle varies and can sometimes be "felt" better than learnt?

I'm talking about high-bar. It's naturally a much better position to put a bar.


One key theme I remember from Starting Strength is that lifting a higher poundage doesn't necessarily mean you're stronger. That's why you always lift with good technique, pull conventional, keep your ass on the bench, stay out of the triple-ply suits, etc. when you're a novice. However, with regards to the bar position in the squat, that doesn't seem to apply. Rippetoe's reasoning there is that reducing the lever arm of the back lets you use more weight, even though, as he's said elsewhere, more weight doesn't necessarily mean you're any stronger. I also remember a CFJ article where Rippetoe talked about the differences in high and low positions, and how the high was more natural, but the low was superior for one reason or another. In that article, he referenced a friend of his who learned to squat with him, and who lifted high while Rippetoe himself went low. He ended the article with something like "He still thinks high is better, but I always squatted more than he did." There's a total discontinuity there.

Bah, now I'm ranting.

Gavin Harrison
11-02-2009, 09:02 PM
Eh, I squat high bar, but I have a short torso and long legs. Low bar bends me too far forward to be worthwhile.

Dave Van Skike
11-03-2009, 10:03 AM
if the safety squat bar had been invented in a more timely manner, this whole discussion would be moot.

Brian Stone
11-03-2009, 10:21 AM
if the safety squat bar had been invented in a more timely manner, this whole discussion would be moot.

Do you recommend using it? I don't think I've ever seen a squat done with one of them, which isn't to say that they shouldn't be used. They will change the mechanics of the exercise, though.

Dave Van Skike
11-03-2009, 11:30 AM
Do you recommend using it? I don't think I've ever seen a squat done with one of them, which isn't to say that they shouldn't be used. They will change the mechanics of the exercise, though.


mechanics vs. semantics. where the bar goes isn't that important. unless you compete in PL, squatting is a supporting movement. if you do compete in PL, then put the bar where it works for you and leave it there.

I love the SSB. works especially well if shoulders and elbows give you trouble. buffalo bar is also nice, as is camber bar, and axle... although axle front squats tend to choke me out.

Ben Smith
11-03-2009, 12:39 PM
I'm talking about high-bar. It's naturally a much better position to put a bar.


One key theme I remember from Starting Strength is that lifting a higher poundage doesn't necessarily mean you're stronger. That's why you always lift with good technique, pull conventional, keep your ass on the bench, stay out of the triple-ply suits, etc. when you're a novice. However, with regards to the bar position in the squat, that doesn't seem to apply. Rippetoe's reasoning there is that reducing the lever arm of the back lets you use more weight, even though, as he's said elsewhere, more weight doesn't necessarily mean you're any stronger. I also remember a CFJ article where Rippetoe talked about the differences in high and low positions, and how the high was more natural, but the low was superior for one reason or another. In that article, he referenced a friend of his who learned to squat with him, and who lifted high while Rippetoe himself went low. He ended the article with something like "He still thinks high is better, but I always squatted more than he did." There's a total discontinuity there.

Bah, now I'm ranting.


Nah, that doesn't qualify as a rant. It's a legit point. I'd be interested to read the article if you have a reference for it. I've always understood the reduction of the lever arm of the back to be a peripheral benefit (although one greatly appreciated by us long-torso-ed guys), with the main benefit being the ability to *gross oversimplification alert* use more bigger muscle groups. If you're squatting primarily to train the pc (definitely a core assumption), then it makes sense to squat in such a way that the back angle is not the limiting factor.

Gant Grimes
11-03-2009, 03:10 PM
I'm talking about high-bar. It's naturally a much better position to put a bar.


One key theme I remember from Starting Strength is that lifting a higher poundage doesn't necessarily mean you're stronger. That's why you always lift with good technique, pull conventional, keep your ass on the bench, stay out of the triple-ply suits, etc. when you're a novice. However, with regards to the bar position in the squat, that doesn't seem to apply. Rippetoe's reasoning there is that reducing the lever arm of the back lets you use more weight, even though, as he's said elsewhere, more weight doesn't necessarily mean you're any stronger. I also remember a CFJ article where Rippetoe talked about the differences in high and low positions, and how the high was more natural, but the low was superior for one reason or another. In that article, he referenced a friend of his who learned to squat with him, and who lifted high while Rippetoe himself went low. He ended the article with something like "He still thinks high is better, but I always squatted more than he did." There's a total discontinuity there.

Bah, now I'm ranting.

You're talking about Phil Anderson, who, IIRC from the article, squatted more than Rip (Rip outpulled him). Rip's argument in SS was against chasing numbers for the sake of numbers. However, one of his justifications for using a low bar position was to use a greater load which lead to more overall strength. You're mixing unlike things.

Patrick Donnelly
11-03-2009, 05:39 PM
It was from May 2009.

We both deadlifted in the lower 600s several times,
but I was a better squatter at 611 than Philís 589.

[...]

So, I want there to be shear stress on the back so that the muscles
that control intervertebral position get strong. I want active use
of the hamstrings, so that they get strong too. I want the heaviest
weight on my back that I can move through a full range of motion.
And this is why I like the low-bar back squat. I just canít get Phil
to listen to me. Heís stronger than I am, and he always has been,
so heís going to be hard to convince. After all, the boy did both
Steinborn and Zercher lifts with 500 pounds at a body weight of
198ónot wise, perhaps, but still a record today, I believe.

But Iíve still got him on the squat.

That's the bit that bothers me, but you each can form your own opinions.

Mike Romano
11-03-2009, 06:20 PM
Yes, Rip's "lever arm" shpeal always confused me. If the torso is kept more vertical in a high bar squat, which it should be, the lever arms should be about the same between the two. The fact that less weight is used with a high bar squat (typically) leads me to believe that the high-bar would yield less shear on the lower back. Not quite sure what the reasoning is here....If I misunderstood something please someone let me know....

Ben Smith
11-04-2009, 06:35 AM
That's the bit that bothers me, but you each can form your own opinions.

I think I see how you interpreted that, but you're placing a lot of weight on a very small slice of a large body of written and instructional work. Even in the context of that article alone, the part you've honed in on isn't terribly bothersome unless you want it to be.

The article is May '08 if anyone else was interested to read it.

Dave Van Skike
11-04-2009, 09:19 AM
I've trained with many top people over the years. I’ve literally trained with the strongest people on earth.......The one thing they all have in common is they don’t focus on the little details. They focus on going to the gym and lifting as heavy and hard as they can. They take pride in losing training partners on a weekly basis. They take pride in making sure “the new guy” doesn’t make it through his first squat session.

http://elitefts.com/documents/complicated.htm

of course...as the prophets have revelead to us.......Justin never trained with Rezazadeh so of course, he hasn't really trained with the strongest people..because of course only the Olympic games can identify the world's actual strongest man.....

Alex Bond
11-04-2009, 11:08 AM
I started out low-bar squatting, but I switched to high-bar about a year ago. I now strongly prefer it. I developed quite a bit of strength low-bar squatting, but it was all position specific - I had to stick my butt out and lean over to do anything. I feel like the high-bar position carries over to more stuff because it is more of an intermediate position. It still works the PC, but it also includes the quads more than low-bar does. Sure, if I was to enter a PL meet, I'd low-bar so I could move the most weight possible, but that isn't a problem for me just now.

Brian Stone
11-04-2009, 11:51 AM
http://elitefts.com/documents/complicated.htm

of course...as the prophets have revelead to us.......Justin never trained with Rezazadeh so of course, he hasn't really trained with the strongest people..because of course only the Olympic games can identify the world's actual strongest man.....

That article is f-in' badass! Kind of the same tone as the outstanding Wendler big lecture vids you posted some time ago, DVS.

Gavin Harrison
11-04-2009, 01:19 PM
This whole discussion reminded me of a decent article from Dr Fred Hatfield (Dr. Squat).

He seems to advocate using "Athletic Squats" over either "Olympic Squats" or "Powerlifter Squats", except in PL competition, and as competition nears to train the movement specifically.

http://drsquat.com/content/knowledge-base/i-may-not-know-diddley-i-know-squat

Gant Grimes
11-04-2009, 02:26 PM
LBBS/HBBS has replaced CNS as the acronoym most likely to give me the runs.

Allen Yeh
11-04-2009, 04:59 PM
LBBS/HBBS has replaced CNS as the acronoym most likely to give me the runs.

What about core?

Garrett Smith
11-05-2009, 05:50 AM
Dang, I took a lot of flak on the CF forum for using a Manta Ray...and there goes Dr. Squat saying it is RECOMMENDED. Wow. I may have to bust it out again if I do high bar and I still get my old shoulder bone rub from the bar.

Duke McCall
11-05-2009, 07:04 AM
Thanks for the Dr. Squat article Gavin. A good read.

Steve Shafley
12-18-2009, 05:05 PM
PD is essentially right.

The low bar position is inappropriate for many people. This is due to tissue changes as you age, in particular, if not used, the internal rotators of the shoulders will make this a painful proposition.

In addition, pec and lat tightness, which are both extremely common, contribute.

I'm attempting to fix this issue right now, myself, with back squatting taking a long time to warm up to because of this shoulder issue.

I'm attempting to remedy this by more frequent stretching of the pecs and lats, and also the internal rotators.

I'm doing some specific stretches, the most easily explained is a behind the neck press with the bar. I start wide, ring fingers on the outer rings, and do a bunch of reps, then move in to pinkies on the rings, and then finally about one thumb's width from the smooth.

In addition to this, I use some PVC and bands to really stretch the internal rotators and shoulder complex mimicking the position needed to back squat.

Not a painless process, and it's been a long, drawn out process to lengthen the tissue, and I'm still not there yet.

Brandon Oto
12-18-2009, 05:56 PM
Shaf, do you feel this is an inevitable process secondary to aging and years of lifting? Or just something that a lot of folks see because they hit the squat and bench heavily without enough attention to mobility and muscle balance?

Steve Shafley
12-18-2009, 06:13 PM
Probably a bit of both, given the individual.

In my case I neglected the back squat and the shoulder ROM necessary to do it comfortably, yet benched heavily.

Garrett Smith
12-18-2009, 07:40 PM
Shaf, are you going to compete again, or do you simply prefer the low bar?

Now that I've finally built some traps (they're now okay, before they were pathetic) and I'm working on fixing my screwed up lower cervical curve, I'm going the other way, back to high bar. If I stick with high bar, I think I'll just do my PL comps that way (first one of 2010 is March).

Jamie J. Skibicki
12-28-2009, 12:33 PM
Gant,

HBBS and LBBS aren't acronyms, they are initializations.

Allen,

"Core" is neither.

As far as the squat, I like it as low as I can get it without stretching my shoulders too much. It ends up a little above LBBS, which if I recal correctly, is still above where PLers put it.

I never liked HBBS, digs in too much.

Garrett Smith
12-28-2009, 12:41 PM
Here's something odd.

I had been doing LBBS for a while now, as I have a long torso and I got a nasty acromion process rub from the bar when I used to HBBS sans Manta Ray.

So I decided to try HBBS the other day, haven't done them in years. I pretty handily did my "5" day from the 5/3/1 program based on my LBBS max number, with 7 reps in the last set.

Weird. I'm sticking with the high bar, shoulder-width stance from now on, even in the PL meets.