Re: Low Bar Squats for Olympic Lifters

One of my olympic lifters has been low bar squatting since March of this year (she had been high bar squatting prior to this). Right before she switched to LBBS back in March, her best set of 5 high bar squat was 100kg x 5. She recently tore her Longissimus Thoracis at the USA Weightlifting National Championships. The spot of the tear is near where the bar sits when she low bars, so she is high bar squatting for the time being.
Before the National Championships, her best low bar back squat was 120kg x 4 (missed the last rep on a 5RM set). We did no high bar squatting in any of her training, only low bar and front squats. Today (after taking two weeks off), 4 months after she did 100kg for a set of 5, she did 100kg high bar squat for a pretty easy set of 10.

Also interesting is the fact that from the time she started low bar squatting she upped her snatch 6kg (81kg to 87kg), and her C&J 8kg (97kg to 105kg) at the same bodyweight. She also took bronze at Nationals this year. My other female lifter (who also low bar squats) took silver in another weight class. I believe 363 lifters competed at this years nationals. All of the coaches that I talked to at nationals this year, all of them, said low bar back squatting is “stupid” or not applicable to Olympic weightlifting.

– Tom DiStasio, Olympic Weightlifting Coach and Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at Sacramento State University.  And also, obviously, Starting Strength Coach.

The analysis seems solid.  With the increased popularity of the method and brand, some people who compete in OL are actually trying to do things this way.  And are successful.  Obviously a huge range of attributes is required for success in Olympic Lifting, but it would seem that even a few successes would indicate that what  many in the American WL community have said about low bar squatting and vertical bar path pulling is just not as clear cut as they want it to be.

I suspect that when/if things reach a critical mass, the goalposts will move and there will be a response similar to “successful in spite of their technique/programming, not because of it.”  Which sounds, hmmmm, an awful lot like exactly what we’ve been saying for years, about techniques that don’t have solid analysis, but only historical observation, to support their performance.  If that happens, I guess it means they can borrow our stuff when it’s convenient, but toss it out when it doesn’t conform to their preconceived notions of How It Is.

But that hasn’t happened just yet, so I guess we’ll see.

This will piss certain people off, if they see it.  Oh well.

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