The Saftey Squat Bar Explained
By Fred Koch, P-SCE
International Director, Tudor Bompa Institute
Let’s set the record straight right from the start. The saftey squat bar was not invented or redesigned any other of these current day experts. In fact the Saftey squat bar was invented by a simple shop designer from Newark New Jersey, named Jessie Hoalgland. The guy never lifted weights and was probably 110 lbs soaking wet. I began show the bar at trade shows around 1984 and it was accepted immediately. Fred Hatfield was the first to recognize the brilliance of this design and makes no bones about using it for his attack on the 1000lbs squat.
So much is written today about squats, mostly being heavy squats done by guys that are super-human. I am always amazed at human to be so incredibly strong. Add to that all the writers and trainers who want to get rid of squats for one reason or another. You have the, learn to do that standard squat right group, you have the full squats are best group. Then comes the squats will destroy anyone’s back that does them group. So, this has bred front squat group, and of course the Bulgarian split squat group.
What this article is about is the one key point I feel that all these groups have missed, what’s that you ask? Well the squat is simply put, a multi-jointed lever system. What does this mean? I will not go all scicntific on you because quite frankly I don’t really know all those big words and could give a shit about them anyway. What it means in reference to the squat is an attempt to overcome one of the obvious weak links, the lower back because you have a heavy weight on your shoulders (ouch) and the most obvious the weak link in the lever system between the upper and lower leg. The squat is weakest at the worst part of the lever system which in each of these cases is at the bottom of the lift, which by the way sets the lower back in the most dis-advantageous position, because if you go deep or even to parallel your lower back bends over and just the gravity of the weight on your shoulders moves the force lineout of center and presses down on the lower back.
So what is the answer to this ? Well in machines where this issue came up years ago with chest, back and all lever type movements, they just designed cams to in effect make the lift heaver and lighter at the right position.
Variable resistance with chains, but you are still stuck in a fixed weight of the rising chain so it cannot be individualized.
Squats, unfortunately no matter how hard most people try will always have the knee come out some what over the toes, thus focusing the force through the knee.
What most heavy squatters, especially in sports that I know are really looking for “the hip strength” because all power/strength comes from the hips. That is why many squats have the legs so far apart to try and keep the lower leg as vertical as possible focusing the force back to the hips not down through the knee. Thus, I have a friend who just has his volley ball do quarter squat.
What we really need is a way to squat, that would make all the levers 90° in the right position. Keep the back in a straight position if the weight was on your shoulders and if really had a bonus focus the weight evenly over the neck, and shoulders.
In 1985 I wrote an article for the NSCA Journal. I would like to reprint some of the excerpts from that article to show you what sometimes is lost in history, thus popping up all these new found experts.
NSCA Journal, Volume 7, Number 4, 1985
The Fitness Center
Little Silver, New Jersey
NSCA State Director for New Jersey
The squat, in principle, is designed to produce general muscle development and strength in the legs, hips, buttocks and lower back. In accomplishing that function, it provides great benefits for the so-called “balancing muscles.” Consequently, squatting becomes a vital. Essential part of any weight training program.
But it is not without problems and potential difficulties:
1. Loss of balance-pitching forward or falling backward
2. Discomfort on the shoulders and/or lower neck muscles.
3. Limitation by the weakest link in each person’s lift of full weight loads (i.e.,)the first third of the upward Iift during which the lower back must bear the brunt of the weight).
4. Lower back pain and the subsequent risk of injury.
5. A leverage disadvantage against taller lifters.
6. The leverage disadvantages on the knees and lower backdue to the body leaning forward.
To analyze the design of the Natural Squatting Bar is to understand how it eliminates, or compensates for the above problems. The main crossbar is similar to any Olympic-style bar, with the critical exception that it has two parallel support structures which extend in a perpendicular direction from the main crossbar.
In actual usage, these support structures are at the front of the lifter, and they, along with the portion of the crossbar which rests on the shoulders, are heavily, but firmly, padded. The material used is comfortable and first-class. This is important, not only for the comfort and reduction of possible sore spots, but also psychologically.
Weights are located at either end of the bar, as one might expect. The bar doesn’t react in a “normal” way. That portion the bar which actually bears the brunt of the weight is bent down and out, on a plane about four inches lower than the crossbar. This enables the bar to achieve a rather mysterious distinction- it balances on the shoulders, yet at the same time draws on added support from the chest. The rack itself is not at all dramatic or radical. There is one unique leature adjustable handles in the upright grips.
These can be positioned according to the height of the lifter and are held during the actual lift to further maximize stability. These handles, coupled with the inherent counter balance of the product, solve the very real problem of injury or discomfort to the neck and shoulder areas. Eliminating centralized discomfort may prove to improve concentration.
Increased stability enables the lifting of greater Ioads and the unique design of
The hand-assisted technique allows resulting in greater strength gains in the bar allows the lifter to “spot” for himself through the “sticking point” by applying slight additional pressure on the handles.
This puts the lifter in total control of the entire rep, or set. Consequently, the Iifter is able to keep the weight load at that maximum level where it will more effectively work the strongest body parts.
Again, remember, psychological acceptance of a training technique or piece of equipment is at least as important as mastering the mechanical requirement.
The inherent balance and stability both work to eliminate a rather natural tendency to “bow,” the most common cause of lower back iniury in the squat.
The lifter to move through sticking points easier,The squat in a shorter amount of time.
So as you see the Saftey Squat bar has been around a long time and you can also see how it is misused today with the handle and proper understanding of it’s true purpose.
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