Safety Squat Bar Squat: Gym Shorts (How To)

New to the safety squat bar squat or looking for a quick technique tutorial? Learn correct form in one short video.

Safety Squat Bar Squat Correct Form

Gym Shorts videos provide short video demonstrations of correct form for various exercises.

Follow these steps

  • Set pad below top of trapezius
  • Knees out & forward
  • Maintain midfoot balance throughout
  • More vertical back angle & more forward knees than in low bar squat
  • Gaze about 2 feet above floor
  • Elbows up: fight to maintain handle angle
  • Breathe at the top
  • Hip crease below top of knee cap in the bottom

What Is the Safety Squat Bar Squat & Why Do It?

This exercise is a squat using a specialty bar called a safety squat bar that enables a back squat-like squat with the hands in front of the lifter’s chest.

Because the hands are in a comfortable position, lifters with shoulder pain or tight shoulders can perform this without the shoulder discomfort a normal barbell back squat often comes with.

This can be a great bar for older lifters, but one issue may be the amount of weight this bar comes with. These bars tend to weight more than your typical 20kg or 45lb bar, often around 60lbs. A similar experience for lifter’s requiring less weight may be had with a barbell and wrist straps looped around the barbell.

Other lifters may perform this as a supplemental lift for variety’s sake to drive up their primary squat.

The majority of safety squat bars will create a more vertical back angle than a low bar squat. Because of this, the knees will travel farther forward than in a low bar back squat, putting greater moment force on the knees than the hips. This means greater stress is on the knee extensors (the quadriceps) than on the hip extensors.

This exercise trains the muscles of the legs, abdominal, and back. The muscles trained include the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, adductors. This also trains the muscles of the low back, abdominals, and upper back, which work isometrically to prevent movement in the lumbar or thoracic spine.

Lastly, some more advanced safety squat bars can actually adjust the yoke so that the center of mass moves to either create a squat that more closely approximates a low bar squat with a more horizontal back angle or more closely approximates a front squat with a more vertical back angle.

Programming the Squat Squat Bar Squat

For lifters who use this as their primary squat, this is programmed just like the normal squat, and will likely be performed 2-3 times a week. If this is the case, variations using this bar can be performed, such as pausing in the bottom, squatting onto a box or pins, or slowing the tempo.

For intermediate and advanced lifters seeking greater variety and are using this lift as a squat supplemental lift, this will likely be used to put greater stress on the quadriceps and give the shoulders a break from the low bar position. If the squat has an intensity and volume day, it will likely be performed on the volume day.

Generally, perform this exercise for 2-5 sets of 3-8 reps. These are general guidelines, however, and these can certainly be performed for singles or higher rep work.

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain during the squat, and typical modifications such as thumbs around, high bar squat, and wrist wraps don’t help, consider this squat. Alternatively, if you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter looking for a great squat supplemental lift, this is one. Lastly, if you’re a coach, this is a bar that many of your clients will appreciate you or your gym has.

Click HERE to watch our longer video on how to squat with the SSB bar, including how to program the exercise and HERE to read the muscles worked in the squat.

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