Friday, December 19, 2008

Back to Squatting with the Barbell

I have not squatted with a barbell on my back since the 90's. Years of SI joint issues and two disc herniations kept me from squatting with barbell. Why? It hurt too much. Years later I can proudly admit that perhaps it was my technique that was keeping me from barbell usage. My twin brother Keats Snideman was just out visiting me in November and he showed me a different technique. The technique he showed me was the LOW bar version of keeping the barbell very low on my back, literally 1/2 an inch below the spine of the scapula which is pretty darn low. I had never even tried this version. It almost feels as if the bar might slp off my back it's so low. What keeps the bar in place is the TIGHT contraction of all the upper and mid back spinal musclues (rhomboids, middle and lower traps, erectors, posterior deltoid). The only limitations are in my wrists/forearms and in my shoulders as I still lack the adequate flexibility in those areas.

The version not only feels better it on my back I feel much stronger in my hips. Years of kettlebell swings and snatches has strengthened my hamstrings and glutes but have not strengthened by quads. I feel that the quadricep muscles are starting to come alive for the first time in almost a decade!
Much of this information can be found in the Book Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, perhaps one of the best strength training books I have ever read. If you are a strength enthusiast, this is a must have book!


mc said...

Starting strength is an unexpected book, eh?

Just wanted to say season's best, sir. Good to meet you this year, and hope the new one will be super for you and yours,


Franz Snideman said...

thank you MC! it was a pleasure meeting you as well.

Have a great holidays!

Jordan Vezina said...

Great work with the squats. I've never been able to do high bar either, it makes my body unhappy. I started using a belt recently and that really helped me lock in my form as well. I get that bar so low on my back I feel like it's going to roll off. :)
Have a good Christmas!

fawn said...

I LOVE Starting Strength! Good to see you are revisiting the back squat... my favorite lift.

I totally agree, kettlebell swings are a great assistance lift for back squats. I'm guessing that kettlebell swings are the reason I hold the American Raw Record after only one year of competing in powerlifting!

Merry Christmas to you and your family. Hello to Yoana and a kiss for your baby.

Franz Snideman said...


thanks brother! It feels so good to be able to do them again. thought I was done for good until my brother introduced me to Mark Rippetoe's book "starting strength".

I agree with you....feels like the bar is going to fall right off your back. although the tension in your upperback obviously keeps it GLUED to your T-spine!

Gotta love it!

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Franz Snideman said...


Merry Christmas! Yes, I know, that book RULES! One of the best strength training books I have ever read. It is so damn thorough and detailed I can't believe it.

You are American Raw Powerlifting record holder? WOW! Congratulations Fawn!!!!

You rule! For sure you out squat me by alot!!!! :)

Jennifer said...

Merry Christmas!

Doug Nepodal Sr. RKC said...

Happy holidays to the whole Snideman family.

Jason Marshall said...

Happy Holidays to you and your family Franz!

The low bar position of the back squat is more of what the powerlifters do. Once you've developed your back to a certain point the bar just rests on a "shelf" of the rear delts an lower traps. It makes the lift much more hip intense rather than low back/quad.

Good luck with it! I'll be revisiting barbell lifts as well after the new year!

Franz Snideman said...

Thanks Jennifer!

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks for sending Sean down to Revolution. He came in to take class today and did an outstanding job!

Happy New Years!!!

Franz Snideman said...


yes, it does get the hips quite well. I find that after taking almost a decade off from heavy squatting that it is LIGHTING my quads up very well! My quads haven't gotten any loading like this in years. Feels good to engage the, I do agree that the hips get hammered but the quads get some activation as well.

Happy new years Jason!

God Bless!!!!

Boris said...

Good to see you squatting Franz!

Happy New Year!

Fran said...

I like the low bar squat too, I can go a lot heavier that way (max 105 kg at 60 kg body weight). Mark Rippetoe's weekend seminars are great (following on his book) - if you get a chance to go to one, you might like it. They take place in CrossFit gyms but they are pure Rippetoe lifts.

Franz Snideman said...


Thanks man! Squatting again has been a BORN AGAIN experience for me. I haven't been this excited about my training for quite some time!

Franz Snideman said...


I would love to experience and Rippetoe seminar live!

hmmmmm....maybe I can get to one out here in San Diego!

Franklin said...

Great to see you barbell squatting!

As you know I'm another relatively new back squatter here. As mentioned in Starting Strength, (a phenomenal book!) the preferred bar position for Olympic assistance lifting is pretty high on the back.

Fortunately I have had no issue so far as I believe all the double kettlbell front squat I did prepared me well.

Oly style barbell front squats are another story as the clean rack position is very demanding on the wrists. I have made progress here but still a long way to go.