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Geoffrey Thompson
03-04-2010, 08:49 AM
So I've been low-bar back squatting three times per week and I know I must have some mild form problem because it just irritates my left arm - it hurts at about the point where arm wrestlers break their arm if they're doing it wrong. I had a couple weeks off where I could only train once per week, on Sundays, and the break enabled me to recover enough that I could squat on those days without pain and, when I got back on schedule, the first couple workouts were painless. Now, I know I have to figure out what I'm doing wrong and fix it, but, in the meantime, I have a powerlifting meet coming up in a month, so I don't want to waste time experimenting with form and being in pain, because that will interfere with both my squats and my presses.

So what I'm wondering is what I can do, in the meantime, to cope. I front squatted my last session, but I can't do that 3x week until the meet and do well.

Do high-bar squats have less potential torque on the humerus? What do you guys think of safety bar squats? One idea I have is rotating through safety bar squats, front squats, and lots of deadlifts in my 3 training sessions per week. If high bar squats work, I'd do that either 2x/week or even all 3, but I'm not optimistic about them. Any other suggestions, ideas?

Denver Buchanan
03-04-2010, 09:30 AM
I used to get something similar when I was powerlifting and did low-bar back squats 2-3 times per week. The only difference was I would get tendonitis in the forearms and elbow. It probably just has to do with your exact bar position/grip. My old training partner had a similar problem, in fact there were times he couldn't squat at all due to forearm/elbow pain. He had a very low bar position. We were also benching heavy twice/week, which exacerbated the problem.

One thing that helped me was experimenting with a thumbless grip while squatting. It did help somewhat. Have you tried that? You don't necessarily need your thumb for low-bar back squatting.

And yes, high-bar squats and safety bar squats are much easier on the upper body. What we ended up doing is just as you described... once the pain started to get bothersome, we'd cycle in high-bar squats and safety-bar squats until the pain was gone.

Arden Cogar Jr.
03-04-2010, 09:40 AM
Do high-bar squats have less potential torque on the humerus? What do you guys think of safety bar squats? One idea I have is rotating through safety bar squats, front squats, and lots of deadlifts in my 3 training sessions per week. If high bar squats work, I'd do that either 2x/week or even all 3, but I'm not optimistic about them. Any other suggestions, ideas?

1. Yes. I feel nothing on my arms when I do high bar squats.
2. Safety bar squats are good and recomended for folk that are suffering just as you are with bar comfort issues.
3. I squat three days a week as well. But I rotate OHS, Front Squats, and Back Squats. I doubt the OHS are an option, so I would go with safety squats instead. Keep your Back Squat on the days you do your deadlifts so you are meet ready, if that makes sense?

But, from the sound of it, you need to back off the back squats to deal with a, likely, tenonitis issue.

Good luck.

All the best,
arden

Geoffrey Thompson
03-04-2010, 10:00 AM
I used to get something similar when I was powerlifting and did low-bar back squats 2-3 times per week. The only difference was I would get tendonitis in the forearms and elbow. It probably just has to do with your exact bar position/grip. My old training partner had a similar problem, in fact there were times he couldn't squat at all due to forearm/elbow pain. He had a very low bar position. We were also benching heavy twice/week, which exacerbated the problem.

One thing that helped me was experimenting with a thumbless grip while squatting. It did help somewhat. Have you tried that? You don't necessarily need your thumb for low-bar back squatting.

And yes, high-bar squats and safety bar squats are much easier on the upper body. What we ended up doing is just as you described... once the pain started to get bothersome, we'd cycle in high-bar squats and safety-bar squats until the pain was gone.

I do thumbless low bar. I also do a fairly narrow grip, which would probably be the first variable I'd alter once my arm gets in better shape and I'm low-barring again. I have a comically short humerus, so that may also contribute. I think tomorrow I'll try safety bar and Sunday I'll warm up with high bar, and if it doesn't hurt, I'll work with it. Thanks.

Geoffrey Thompson
03-04-2010, 10:13 AM
1. Yes. I feel nothing on my arms when I do high bar squats.
2. Safety bar squats are good and recomended for folk that are suffering just as you are with bar comfort issues.
3. I squat three days a week as well. But I rotate OHS, Front Squats, and Back Squats. I doubt the OHS are an option, so I would go with safety squats instead. Keep your Back Squat on the days you do your deadlifts so you are meet ready, if that makes sense?

Awesome. Thanks. I'll report back on my progress in a couple weeks. At the very least, my thighs will look nicer from the front squats if I keep them in there...

Geoffrey Thompson
03-05-2010, 05:59 PM
UPDATE: tried high bar tonight with 140kg for 3x5. Good and deep. No stress at all on the elbow. Huzzah. The only complaint is that I feel a lot stronger than 140 and felt like I just couldn't apply my strength to the bar. Still, A+ will do again. Unsure about whether I'll cycle the other variations (front and safety bar) or will just do high bar 3x per week until competition (a couple low bar days in there to remember the groove). I think I might just do high bar because I have some catching up to do - increased efficiency blah blah blah. Will report back in a couple weeks.

Steven Low
03-05-2010, 07:32 PM
Low bar squats hit the shoulders at the edge of their ROM. Problem is if you have mobility issues then it's gonna put a lot of stress on them in an awkward position.

Fortunately, the mobility can be built up for this (although I wouldn't necessarily go back to LBBS even if you do correct it).

IN general you need to:

1. Improve thoracic mobility... foam roll T-spine

2. Improve shoulder mobility, especially in external rotation....

stretch the lats, pec major and minor aggressively,
use band dislocates to stretch,
wall slides

3. Improve scapular retraction both passively and actively.

One of the things I like to do is start with a theraband overhead and then wall slide my way down with the band going behind the back until your hands are by your hips. This will drag your scapulas into extremely retracted position (although a bit tough on the wrists). From there you can also actively pull them in as well.

This is an excellent compliment to wall slides.

Geoffrey Thompson
03-07-2010, 04:59 AM
Low bar squats hit the shoulders at the edge of their ROM. Problem is if you have mobility issues then it's gonna put a lot of stress on them in an awkward position.

Fortunately, the mobility can be built up for this (although I wouldn't necessarily go back to LBBS even if you do correct it).

IN general you need to:

1. Improve thoracic mobility... foam roll T-spine

2. Improve shoulder mobility, especially in external rotation....

stretch the lats, pec major and minor aggressively,
use band dislocates to stretch,
wall slides

3. Improve scapular retraction both passively and actively.

One of the things I like to do is start with a theraband overhead and then wall slide my way down with the band going behind the back until your hands are by your hips. This will drag your scapulas into extremely retracted position (although a bit tough on the wrists). From there you can also actively pull them in as well.

This is an excellent compliment to wall slides.

Awesome, I'll get a bit more religious about my foam rolling.

Geoffrey Thompson
03-29-2010, 09:17 AM
Update: I've maintained most of my squat strength, which is what I was hoping for in this block of time whether or not I was able to low-bar back squat (Lent, a little weight loss, missing a lot of training, so maintenance was a good plan). I low-barred it yesterday, and it felt decent. I plan on doing low bar maybe once more before my meet on the 10th, probably the Tuesday before to work up to my openers. An unexpected plus was that I have been able to work the deadlift harder than I had initially planned because the high-bar squats and front squats seemed to leave a lot more in the tank. I'm still expecting to total a modest 450kg in the meet.

Geoffrey Thompson
04-10-2010, 06:09 PM
UPDATE: Just did meet. Got 182.5 - 92.5 - 200. A little better than expected on squat and deadlift, still had stuff in the tank there, ashamed of the bench. 8/9, missed my last bench at 100. Elbows killing me from the the squatting. I'm doing an olympic lifting meet in 11 weeks, so won't have to worry about that. Still, I need a bigger squat. Anyway, I may start a thread asking about transitioning from strength training to weightlifting training, since I need more strength and can probably get it quickly with focus on it, but I also have a meet soon.

Geoffrey Thompson
04-28-2010, 10:28 AM
UPDATE: somebody berated me about what I was doing wrong in my low bar squatting that was hurting my elbows. I was pushing down with my hands like I was trying to bend the bar across my back. I have since adjusted and, while the first couple times I did it my elbows still complained, it wasn't as bad, and now I'm doing it without elbow pain. I'm still keeping high bar squats in my arsenal, though, they're a different type of stress and having that in my quiver is good. Plus, I'm doing a weightlifting meet in a couple months and that should transfer better...