The Low Bar Squat Grip
Do you have shoulder, elbow or wrist pain while squatting? Is your squat grip the cause?
In this video, Starting Strength Coach, Matt Reynolds teaches proper grip for the squat and addresses common issues such as overextended wrists, elbow flare and more.
Here’s the Key
In all the other barbell lifts such as the bench press, overhead press or deadlift, our hands connect us to the bar. However, in the squat, the hands are simply there to prevent the bar from rolling down the back. Your back should bear the load of the squat, not your hands, wrists or elbows.
In order to do this, we need to find the right relationship between gripping the squat and still allowing the bar to sit on the back.
Oftentimes, if a lifter is supporting the bar with their hands, wrists, or elbows, they develop tendinitis, specifically tendinitis in the medial epicondyle of the elbow. We want to avoid this problem by making sure our grip is correct.
Grip Tip #1: Relatively Vertical Forearms
First, try to get your grip to be as narrow as possible. If you have limited shoulder mobility or if this is your first time attempting to low bar squat, you might need to stretch. Check out the Paul Horn Low Bar Position Stretch!
Grip Tip #2: Thumbless Grip
Instead of wrapping the thumbs around the bar like we do in the other barbell lifts, we want to use compression between the bones of the wrist and bones of the forearm to hold the bar in place. This means the bar must push into the heel of the palm.
Conversely, if you choose to wrap your thumbs around the bar creating overextension of the wrist, you might develop wrist pain or tendinitis. If your wrists hurt, try this fix!
Be careful that your wrists don’t become flexed over the bar. Your hands should not be on top of the bar, instead the heel of the palm pushes into the bar. Again, this creates the necessary compression to hold the weight of the bar on the back.
If All Else Fails…
Sometimes, lifters still develop tendinitis despite a perceived proper squat grip. In this case, you may need to adjust by wrapping your thumbs around the bar, adjusting grip width, etc. If the back bears the load of the bar, there’s less chance of developing wrist, shoulder or elbow pain from squatting.