Should You Avoid Low Bar Squats If You Lean Over Too Much?

good morning squat
August 7, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “should you avoid low bar squats if you lean over too much?”. Low bar squats are a great exercise for working the posterior chain.

You can use more weight on the low bar squat than you can typically on the high bar squat. This is due to better leverages and more involvement of the glutes and hamstrings.

Unfortunately, some people lean over far too much on the low bar squat. This can increase the risk of lower back injuries. This article will explore whether you should avoid low bar squats in this case.

Should You Avoid Low Bar Squats If You Lean Over Too Much?

This is a nuanced question. Some forward lean is perfectly normal on the low bar squat in order to keep the bar over the middle of your foot.

However, if you are turning your low bar squats into hard to watch good mornings, you need to evaluate things. It could be that you need to alter your technique.

If you are sitting back at the hips a lot first and then releasing your knees at the end, you will end up leaning forward a lot more coming out of the hole. Altering your technique to break at the knees and hips at the same time would help.

Performing front squats and getting stronger on that exercise will also help to minimise good morning squats. Strengthening the core muscles can also aid in cleaning up your squat form.

If after improving technique and strengthening weak links you find that you are still doing good mornings on low bar squats, you should change to a different squat variation.

You will reduce the risks of injury this way and will still be able to hit your posterior chain hard on other exercises like deadlifts.
good morning squat

Some Forward Lean Is Normal

It is important to note that some forward lean on the low bar squat is normal. The idea that good squats should involve a completely upright torso is a misnomer.

It is true that high bar squats will call for your torso to be more upright. However, the low bar squat involves more forward lean in order to keep the bar over your midfoot.

You will be able to use the powerful muscles of the glutes and hamstrings more effectively with the low bar squat and leaning forward. Unfortunately, some people have excessive forward lean on the low bar squat.

This can make this exercise more risky!

Different Anthropometries

Everyone is built differently. One of my friends for instance is perfectly built for the low bar squat. He has a long torso and short femurs, this gives him great leverages for the low bar squat.

When he does low bar squats, he leans forward a little but his back angle stays constant throughout the range of motion. His knees don’t shift forward out of the hole, he is able to stay tight on every rep.

In my case, I have a short torso and long femurs. These leverages make the low bar squat hard work for me and cause me to have more forward lean. This increases the risk of lower back strains and injuries.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of your body structure. You can strengthen weak links, but some people have a mechanical advantage on certain exercises.

If you find that your low bar squats are good mornings and you have strengthened weak links, you should try a different squatting variation instead. Longevity is the aim of the game, training smart is the way to go.

Address Technique

Technique is always critical when lifting. This applies to all exercises, without solid technique you can never make any real progress.

Whilst your body structure may not be optimal for low bar squats, you can still squat with good technique and maximise your results.

You want to ensure that you have the bar in the right place on your back. It shouldn’t be too high and it also shouldn’t be resting ridiculously low. It should rest on the shelf created by your rear delts.

When squatting down it is best to try and break at the knees and hips at the same time. I would just get my knees out of the way slightly and then squat down. On the way up you want to drive your hips up and maintain your back angle.

You may find it harder to maintain your back angle due to poorer mechanical leverages. However, if you dial in your technique with lighter weights you will be less likely to perform good morning type squats later on.

Strengthen Weaknesses

Typically a lack of core strength will cause you to lean over more. Strengthening your core will certainly help to minimise good morning squats.

You can utilise the ab wheel regularly and get stronger on weighted decline sit ups to strengthen your core. 

Performing squat variations like the front squat will make your upper back work hard to maintain the upright position. Your upper back and core will get stronger and it will be very squat specific.

You can also do a lot of upper back work to strengthen the shelf and get your upper back brutally strong. Exercises like pull ups, inverted rows, high rows and face pulls will build up your upper back strength.

Previously I have talked about how beltless squats can improve your core strength.

Candito’s Views

Candito has some good points to make regarding how to fix the good morning squat. He is a very good low bar squatter and utilises solid technique.

He acknowledges that front squats are the common prescription given for cleaning up low bar squat form. 

Candito states that the knees shouldn’t be shifting out of the hole. If you are sitting back with your hips to initiate the squat too much and then releasing the knees right at the end, you will be more likely to encounter good morning squats.

If you strengthen your weak links and your leverages still have you doing good morning low bar squats, then you should change to other squatting variations.

High bar squats would be a better option for general strength. You can hit the posterior chain harder on deadlift variation exercises. Your lower back will also be in less flexion throughout the range of motion.

If high bar squats don’t suit you either, you could transition to bulgarian split squats or belt squats for your main squatting exercise. This would reduce your risk of lower back injuries substantially.

Final Thoughts

Should you avoid low bar squats if you lean over too much? The answer is you should do everything you can first to address this.

Strengthen your weak links and improve your technique. Taking regular form check videos will also enable you to analyse your bar path and technique.

If after all this work you find that you are still doing too many good morning low bar squats, change your squat variation. You could go with a high bar squat instead.

Doing high bar squats in conjunction with deadlifting variations will allow your lower back to incur less cumulative volume. This in turn will actually decrease the risk of lower back injuries.

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>> What Should You Do If You Can’t Squat Or Deadlift Anymore?

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