This squat is heavy, this squat needs mobility, and the method behind it is not a mystery

Ok so the bench is out of the way. Now there are two variations of the squat. High bar and Low bar. Reference the image that I attached if you get confused on the difference. Two different squats. Semi similar ways to go about learning/doing/coaching them.

Even before that I want to help you teach the squat in general. First and foremost you are going to to have the athlete stand in front of you like a mirror. Next, you are going to tell them to place their feet shoulder width apart. Just like the grip on the bench, this stance will provide the longest ROM with the most musculature utilized in the lift. It’s similar to the bench in that it’s harder to put your femurs into external rotation the wider you go (shoving your knees out). Next, their toes are going to be slightly pointed out (reference This will allow the athlete to shove their knees out to perform full ROM and get external rotation more than if their toes were pointed straight. If the toes are straight (most athletes don’t have the mobility to accomplish toes straight and knees out) and the athletes knees are forward instead of out all that muscle and bone and fleshy area of the hip/femur mash into one another making it harder to achieve depth. With that said, have the athlete squat down to depth (reference this picture and stay down there. Note, this is without the bar. Have the athlete take his hands at put his palms together and with his elbows he is going to shove his knees out. All of this is being down while maintaining extension in both lumbar/thoracic spine (WE ARE STILL AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SQUAT).

Now this leads into the low-bar squat. Low bar uses a little more hamstring than a high bar, but if your athletes are doing a lot of cleans (full cleans) then the high bar may be of more use to you because the squat in the clean is similar to a high bar squat.

In case I lost your attention

From there you are going to walk around behind the athlete and place your hands on their low back/hips and apply slight pressure. The weight should be place right over the middle of the foot. Roughly where you tie your shoe laces. THIS IS WHERE ALL THE WEIGHT IS ON A LOW BAR. You are then going to tell them to “DRIVE” their hips into your hands. This emphasizes “Hip Drive”. Which is what low bar squatters use to rebound out of the hole. ( notice my hips driving me out of the bottom. Also notice how I maintain my bar position because my spine is in extension). Have them do this once or twice to get a feel for it. Another thing to note here. Their head position is neutral with their eyes fixed on a reference point a few feet in front of them. They ARE NOT LOOKING UP. Looking up destroys the tension that you attained through eccentric contraction in the hamstrings. The hips and knees move forward losing that stretch reflex. You can demonstrate this by doing a 3rd and 4th rep with the athlete in this demo phase. Have the athlete look at the ground a few feet in front of them and then command them to drive up (hands still on the hips), then have the athlete look up as hard as they can (like most coaches tell them too). Squatting should be significantly harder now. Keep in mind this is for the low-bar. You can get away with that more in the high-bar, but it’s not a good spinal position.

Now you can take them to the barbell. Start with just the bar and then move from there. I can’t find a decent pic of barbell placement but this is close ( For the low bar the barbell sits along the spine of the scapula. It’s almost like a ridge that your body creates when you place yourself under the bar. When the athlete is under the bar move so you can be in a position to next to them. From there you are going to give them the last little touch up cues. When they unrack the bar it should coincide with a large breath of air and extension of the spine. Reference my video if you need to look again. Also when they unrack it their elbows should be applying downward pressure on the bar. Do not let their elbows slack down. All the weight of the bar is on their back NOT on their arms. Again, notice in the video how my elbows stay high. They are going to take roughly two steps back and take the same stance they had when you were teaching them before. Now right before they go you will tell them 2 last things. A: They are going to have to shove their knees out without their elbows and B: They are going to REBOUND out of the bottom, so basically they aren’t pausing at the bottom.


Take a big breath and hold it for each rep. Each rep gets a new breath and it gets held FOR THE WHOLE REP.

At all times their eyes should be fixated on a reference point. It is hard to maintain balance if they are looking around.

Cues for low bar:

“Knees out” The athlete shoves their knees out for external rotation. Easier ROM. More musculature in the lift.

“Mid-Foot” If you see the athlete shifting their weight it can change the mechanics of the squat. This cues them to put their weight back on the middle of the foot.

“Drive” This will remind the athlete to use his/her hips when they rebound out of the hole.

“Bounce” This is tough for some people to get, but they essentially have to rebound out of the hole off their hamstrings. Using that eccentric contraction we talked about earlier. Advanced cue here. For beginners think control down, fast up.

Moving on to High-Bar . . .

Similar in a few ways.

The bar placement is placed on the traps. As you can see in the pictures. This bar placement changes a few things. Their torso has to maintain a more vertical position throughout the lift. The more vertical the torso the more acute (closed) the knee angle will be. Reference the pictures to see. Knees out stays the same. Thats crucial for both styles. The cue that changes here is “Mid-Foot”. The weight is emphasized on their heel NOT their mid-foot. (Put emphasis on “heels” on the way down and up. “Knees out” is just as important — common for lifters to bring them in at the bottom and on the way up in the high bar variation).

Leave a comment ?


  1. You merely adopted the dark…I was born in it.

    I can’t stop saying that quote.

    Solid squat write up.

    I downloaded the movie. Which is real trouble.

  2. Always good to freshen up on cues and terms. Teaching low bar is such a bitch for people that have never squatted before.

    AC, have you ever tried the more toes forward stance that Justin recently started talking about more that K-Star also endorses? I feel like with your advanced level, that getting to that mobility should be easy enough. It has improved my squat by quite a bit, especially with tightness in the bottom.

    I have moved my toes in a little but it’s caused some increased patella tendon pain. So I don’t go as forward as I have seen.

  3. Bane teaching proper depth at a recent seminar:

    Did you make this lol?

  4. I usually prefer low bar squatting, but when I try high bar, I feel like I am going to fall backward (in the bottom) unless I tilt my torso forward. Might this be caused by poor ankle mobility? Is there another likely cause I should try to fix?

    The feeling of awkwardness that you get is probably because you normally low bar. If you like to low bar then it doesn’t really matter, unless you are moving to high.

  5. Hey i started a blog about my quest for strength:

    grace and peace

    I like how you refer to it as your “Quest for Strength”

  6. Hey man,

    Been real slack with following the main-site and the blog the past few weeks, the Olympics took over my life, (did you watch much of it?).

    But, I’ve just caught up on your posts, keep up the good work. The nationals video is top draw material, gets me pumped.

    Also good job at the meet.

    Didn’t get to catch any of the lifting. I was out of town for most of it. Thanks man. I always appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed the video.

  7. Ah, I was wondering what would break first, your spirit or the parallel plane when you’re in the hole.

    Ill keep this in mind when I talk to people from now on. Thanks.

  8. I decided after watching the lifting at the Olympics that Ilya Ilyin is basically the coolest guy on the planet.

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