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Low Bar Back Squat

Work up to a heavy-ish single on the LBBS. No failing, no bailing. We'll use this number for percentage work in the upcoming cycle.

If you're brand spanking new to squatting, work up to a medium 8 today.

Post loads to comments.


3 Rounds NFT of:

15 Erg Pulls
10 Wall Ball Shots
10 Supine Knees Over Elbows

3 Rounds NFT of:
550m Run
15 Ring Rows

Todd C getting ready to Snatch

Low Bar and High Bar Back Squats this cycle

We generally specify which version of back squats we want people performing in each cycle. The last few cycles have been biasing high bar squatting but we're switching back to the low bar version for the approaching 6 weeks. Especially as CrossFitters, we want to be well rounded and should have some capacity in each version.  If you feel good with either then go ahead and follow along with the programming. If however one version is particularly challenging for you and you've been unable to make progress with your positions in the lift then you can choose the version which seems to be working better for you.

Low bar back squats can be better for people with knee issues, people who want to lift more weight relative to a high bar squat and folks with tight ankles and good shoulder mobility. The low bar squat biases the muscles of your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors etc) more effectively and is our general go-to squat when starting people out.

The high bar back squat can be better for people with good ankle mobility but perhaps not great shoulder mobility. It's also a bit easier to learn since it is essentially a weighted version of air squats which we all are used to doing. This version biases the quadraceps relative to the low bar version and uses a more upright posture.

Both versions are effective, both versions will contribute to overall strength development and we don't recommend avoiding one completely out of personal bias.  For your average CrossFitter, gaining some competency in each version can make you more well rounded and allow you to include two different types of stimuli in your squat training. I don't care what the internet says, they will both provide positive strength transference to all your non-squatting activities, especially for CrossFitters.

Chair Bouldering Traverse
Is it Immoral to Watch the Superbowl? NYT
Bad Lip Reading, NFL Version

Reader Comments (37)

Make-Up post from last night.

6:30pm group:
-used warm-up time to experiment with what it's like to keep the KB super duper close to the body (vertical-ish path), versus allowing it to swing out and up. talked with Josh about the merits of each.
-Push Press with Ms. Dolce: 45x5, 65x3, 75x3, 85x3. May have had 90 in there, but we decided that 85 was solid and enough for back-off wk :-)
-kipping practice was nice. did some of the "level 2" swings, with holding the top position. that seems like a great place for me to continue to build strength, esp. grip, as I continue to build reps in the kip. placing the bar higher in the palm is definitely less squishy on the callus strip, but also will take some work to build endurance there.

PILATES with KH and a bunch of all-stars! This was so fun and hard and painful. I haven't done Pilates in several years, but when I did it regularly in college, it was the most put together I ever felt in my dancing. Interesting to feel how I'm overall much stronger now, after yrs of crossfitting and also focusing on rib cage down/bracing. GREAT class; KH is a stellar and hilarious teacher. If you haven't been to her class, put it in your calendar and go!!

Stuck in airport = read a good book and definitely get a long stretch session in. I'd probably also end up eating an Auntie Anne's pretzel or something.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWhit H

I love the "i don't care what the internet says" part... As a strict, low-bar-only squatter, I nonetheless respect today's message and appreciate it's wisdom. I'll get some-high bar work in at some point.

January 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterRob Is

I generally like to heed The Internet's advice at all costs because I enjoy being whiplashed around all the time. Jk jk love you The Internet!

5:30p last night with Jeremy. Worked up to 185# on the LBBS. I haven't squatted very regularly in any form since the summer so I'm happy with this as a starting place for the next cycle. And no, I wasn't purposely hiding from high bar or squat cousin, front squat.

Kind of wish I had timed my laps because I think the cold made me run much faster than I normally would.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterginacatto

6am private with Josh. Worked a snatch complex of hang snatch + 1" off the floor snatch. Hit 65kg, but was struggling against a new hitch in my snatch that I've developed recently. I seem to be pulling the bar in too close with my lats and then bouncing it off my hips when I pull. And I'm pulling too early. Sigh. Snatch, I'll get you one day.

Dropped down to 54kg for EMOTM (5min) of the same complex. A few reps felt good.

Then worked a 4-position segmented snatch deadlift (1", just above knee, mid-hang, jumping position) and snatch balance. Snatch balance felt great today. Shoulders usually limit me, but today they felt great. Is the mobility work I've been doing paying off? 4 sets of 3 reps of the snatch balance at 60kg and everything felt good until the last rep which I missed for no reason.

Yesterday (blog ate my post): hit 285# on the low bar back squat. Weight didn't feel heavy, but the movement felt awkward. The runs outside were brutal.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Nice to see Mr LBBS back in the gym today - worked up to 345lbs. Moved well without any back or other issues. Looking forward to this cycle.

@KH - very glad you publically called me out on this blog. Did my first ever Pilates class last night. Whitney has it right, KH is a great teacher, even if some of my form "hurt her eyes". Great work out and fun environment to learn some new stuff.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave E

I'm going to repost this from yesterday's comments, bc I want people to see, bc KH's class was great:

I was one of the noobs in Pilates with KH tonight. It was fantastic. As one of those people who is constantly over extended (like Noah) that needs to work on his core to improve his lifts (like Todd), I thought it would be good for me. Small movements kicked my ass in a way that a set of 300 pounds squats couldn't touch.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoel W.

I wrote such a witty post yesterday and sadly, it was eaten.

Signed up for the Herondale meat share just now. This NPR article was the proverbial last straw. Thanks to Michele for her help, and thanks to David for creating so many easy ways for us to choose health!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

I'll take advantage of the general clamor and throw in my words of encouragement to take KH's class. First of all, I've tried Pilates a few times in my life before, and Kristin's words and approach really "took" with me much more than the other instructors had done. She identified my challenges in the way I use my core and really identified structural habits and weaknesses and gave me ways to work on them. And doing it in the context of Crossfit really helps. It's easy I think for a while to kind of fake it with your core, through many of the bracing exercises and hollow holds of cross fit, but in the end it doesn't work. Much better to be engaging your core in the right way, and I've felt an improvement on lifts, and body position in gymnastic exercises. Plus KH is just a lot of fun to hang around with!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Great write up, David. I believe it was Jim Wendler who said (on the internet) that people should just put a bar on their back and squat down and up and not worry too much about the details. I agree.


10am class
Did the warm up with the 14# medball. That was fun, you ladies have it easy!

Low Bar Squat - 245-295-315-335
These moved well and went up smoothly. First time low bar squatting or going above 300 since I hurt my back in the spring. Feels good to be progressing. Need to decide whether I'm going to low bar or high bar this cycle since I have a few (too many) considerations:

1) Do as well as possible in the Open
2) Do well at the Olympic Weightlifting meet in Long Island in March
3) Not embarrass myself "if" I do the Powerlifting meet in NJ, also in March


January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

7am w/McDowell & Arturo
Worked up to 110 LBBS. It's taken a while, and I still have much room for improvement, but I'm starting to feel more confident with my lifts. Thank you Arturo for pushing me to go heavier today. I've been holding on to my comfort zone for way too long and hampering my progress.

Cashout was yet another Crash-B workout. I don't think I'll ever look at an erg the same way again...

As a side note, best answer I heard for the question of the day:

What would you pay someone else to do: BURPEES!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle B.

high bar is for people with neck muscles, fuck that.
worked up to 285 on low bar this morning, felt really good, would of gone higher if i wasnt so damned modest. did like half the warm up and none of the NFT (had a date with a fleishers sausage at home that i could NOT miss) i love back off week.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteruzef

I can't seem to log into the website today. Weird. Glad some of you guys like the squat mini-article.

To answer yesterday's question:
I always tend to buy an Economist magazine and attempt to read the whole thing while waiting for the plane. All it does it make me realize how embarrassingly little I know about world politics.
Also people watching is a great way to pass the time in an airport.

I once had a 5 hour layover with my family and snuck off to do a HSPU, Pistol, Burpee WOD because I was going out of my mind from the sitting. My mom and sister got weirdly annoyed at me and said I should "just stay seated like evryone else!" Luckily I found a terminal no one was in so I avoided an abundance of awkward staring.

I travel infrequently enough that I really enjoy the process, even delays and stuff don't bother me. I'm FLYING! it's amazing! Theres always fun stuff to do in an airport

January 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

I can't seem to log into the website today. Weird. Glad some of you guys like the squat mini-article.

To answer yesterday's question:
I always tend to buy an Economist magazine and attempt to read the whole thing while waiting for the plane. All it does it make me realize how embarrassingly little I know about world politics.
Also people watching is a great way to pass the time in an airport.

I once had a 5 hour layover with my family and snuck off to do a HSPU, Pistol, Burpee WOD because I was going out of my mind from the sitting. My mom and sister got weirdly annoyed at me and said I should "just stay seated like evryone else!" Luckily I found a terminal no one was in so I avoided an abundance of awkward staring.

I travel infrequently enough that I really enjoy the process, even delays and stuff don't bother me. I'm FLYING! it's amazing! Theres always fun stuff to do in an airport

January 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Also, the NFT cash out felt great in the cold! Granted, the sun was out by 10am but it felt good to run.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

Make up post from yesterday.

LBBSQ I havent done these since my first cycle last summer, worked up to #205 which surprisingly didnt seem insane, excited to see where I can go with it.
I feel bad for anyone doing the cashout today since shit is iced up outside.

Congrats the Erskines!!!!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPigeon

6am with McDowell and Arturo

LBBS: worked up to 265, which didn't feel too heavy, then failed at 275 after squatting about 8 inches below parallel for some reason. Feeling disoriented with the LBBS after doing high bar for a while.

cash out: took the rowing option, it was hard. stroke rate/split times for 600m x 3 were: 24/3:39, 21/3:49, 24/3:39. Didn't do the last round of ring rows.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C

Crash bs training -- 20 250m sprints with 1 minute rest in between each. Yes, 20. Thx coach nick. During the week I get my rowing in at a gym near my office and today one of the trainers asked me if I was training for the spring season. Mistaken for someone who actually rows on water. Nice.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdele

Thanks to everyone for the very kind Pilates posts. I am so excited to bring mad abs to CFSBK!

170# on the LBBSQ last night. This is the 1RM that I hit at Titsday, and I failed at 180#. So I am SO excited to see where I can get to in this cycle. Can't wait to see what other lifts we'll be working on.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKH a.k.a. Cage

@David mix in some Foreign Affairs, if you get the chance. Less frequent, I would argue better. They are kind of opinion articles, across the spectrum. Meatier pieces. If nothing else, great way to fall asleep.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJR

Yesterday the blog ate my post, so I will just say that I squatted 205 and it moved rather nicely. My 1RM from June is 210, and I know that won't last through this cycle. I have my greedy little eyes on two wheels and I WILL GET THERE.

5-hour layover: Depends on the airport. If the shopping is any good, I'd wander through all the stores. If it's not, then some combination of browsing trashy magazines at the newsstand, getting a snack at the bar, and reading and/or solving crossword puzzles. (I can go through A LOT of crossword puzzles in five hours...)

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

I agree with everyone- Pilates was wonderful yesterday and I am definitely signing up for more. Thanks Cage!

Adele- that is amazing! Exactly what Nick's goal for us was! Congrats!!!

10 am with Jeremy.
LBBS- this felt all sorts of weird after doing High Bar for so long. I kind of liked High Bar as I have to stay upright and it is easier for me despite my woeful ankle mobility, but I like all squats.
45 x 5, 95 x 5, 125 x 3, 155 x 3, 175 x 1 (PR) 185 x 1, 195 x 1, 205 x F. Big fat fail. I was really, really close but did not go low enough! Very frustrating as I think have it, but still really happy with this as my previous 1RM was 170#. Thanks Foxes for spotting and corrections. I need to really work on keeping my back tight and chest up- two big things to focus on this cycle.

The appropriately-named 'Hell- A Very Dark Place'
12 x 500M with 1 min rest.
Ave 2.00.5 25SPM.
This was a grotesque kind of fun. I managed to stay consistent throughout.

5 chin-ups, 10 RDLs @32kg, 15 OH squats green bar.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Ooooh! And a big congrats to my Lindstar who demolished her previous 1RM today!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Strained my calf "somehow" so no squatting and running for me today. Hopefully back in class tomorrow... Took a yoga class today and realized that my problems keeping weight distributed to the back leg and squaring my hips are exactly the same as my problems with balance and square hips in the split jerk. Maybe half the people reading this are thinking "duh?" but it was fun to see the connection!

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpckr

9am Mobility and Snatch Session
-about 20 mins on thoracic spine, lats, pecs and a little hip. felt so good and needed.
Snatch-in kilos
25x3, 30x3, 35x3, 39x3, 42x2, 45xf
-Pretty sure I'm signing up for the Oly meet in March so I wanted to get a snatch session in. Decided to use kilos because a) that's what I'll use at the meet b) I have no idea what I'm lifting. and c) I want to learn how to quickly convert kilos to pounds d) I wanted to use the pretty new green plates.

10am Group Class:
-Warmup with 20# ball, fluctuating between 9/10ft.

(45x5, 95x5, 135x4, 165x3)
185x5x2, 185x10
-I'm sticking with HBBS for this cycle. I guess I have big neck muscles. ;)
-Didn't want to test a 1RM since I did that recently so wanted to use this exposure to start my linear progression. These felt pretty fast so I think I'll make a 10# jump next week. We'll see.

-1 lap and 15 ring rows (last 2 rounds with false grip--ouch.). The run felt really good and refreshing. Considering this my first training run for the Brooklyn Half. ;)
-Finished with 5x3 dips.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

MGMT, sorry, left my sneakers (black and yellow minimuses) somewhere in the gym, no clue where, i'll pick them up tomorrow

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLuca

LBBS with Willie and Luca.

WU: 135x5, 185x3, 205x2
Work: 225, 245, 265, 275

I'll take that for now - after very little LBBS'ing for a very long time.

The runs were quite enjoyable; the ice wasn't.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

5:30 pm with Arturo and DcDowell

Finish the LBBS at 385# which match my PR. I felt solid under the bar from the beginning.
Thanks to Rikke and Nick for pushing me to keep going up in weights. I would have probably stop at 365#.
I'm excited to see what this cycle goes since I have not done LBBS in a long time.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPierre Davidoff

Squat fail today, worked up to 275 which didn't feel terribly heavy but I can't seem to maintain my brace at the bottom of the squat. I've been having this issue with 1RM attempts for at least a year now which is why I tend to not do limit tests. As I go down into the hole I just lose all tension in my pelvis and lower abdominals. I came up at about half depth cause I felt it happening then called it a day.

And I was wearing the stupid belt today (I know at least one coach is about to yell at mt to wear a belt)

I'm thinking I may need to consult KH.

January 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio


Clean+2 Jerks


Sots Press

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

David, I'm not yelling. Let's chat about how to properly use a belt, padawan.

January 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterChristian Fox

Woohoo Erskine family!!!

Yesterday, push press a surprising 85# for a triple followed by some kipping pull-up practice. Great cues from Jess, so I think I know what I should practice on my own.

Today, worked up to 145# on the HBBS followed by some double under practice. Probably had a little more on the squat, but I've never tested the high bar and was feeling conservative (lazy). Double unders did not go well. Disappointing because I thought I had a breakthrough on Sunday. Ideally, I would like to get double unders via a breakthrough as opposed to hard work and practice :)

Lots of accessory work sprinkled in, which has been fun. Highlight was getting through my 20 strict chin-ups in sets of 3 instead of sets of 2. And holding my handstand for :49, which is :15 improvement from when I started. Definitely feel the difference in my OH movements. Torture continues on the GHD though.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKMo

Worked up to 225 today with Serene. Felt heavy but not a grind. I think there is more there for sure and looking forward to pushing up my 1RM.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeith W.

7:30 with Melo and Mcdowell.

David, careful saying pistol at an airport....

Worked up to 275 and it felt pretty good. I need to try to get my 1 rep squat max above my 1 rep bench max this cycle so Mcdowell and Fox stop reminding me my bench should never outweigh my squat.

I liked the warm up and cash out today, felt good to work out the sore muscles from crash week

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMario

Great day in the gym today. Squatted 215x8 exactly 2 weeks to the day after hurting my back. I'm elated that it got better so quickly, and learned a lot from the experience. I'm back, and Rich Froning is no longer safe.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

Yeah Noah!

Monday - Push press 98x3. Felt fine. Have to work on not tensing up on the recovery descent.

Tuesday - LBBS 180x1. I'm back to feeling over extended at the bottom and afraid to bury it. First attempt at 180 was shallow, so tried it again. Good depth but slow coming back up. Felt tired and wasn't staying tight. I really went for it on the wall balls during warm up though - 10' target!

Tonight I felt like getting the blood pumping and feeling the cold, so I ran around for 40 min at varying speeds with 5 sets of 20 air squats sprinkled in. I didn't have many layers on. My wrists and forearms kind of froze and it felt cool trying to bring them back to life when I got back inside.

Some AR and now I need to catch up on sleep.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

45x5, 135x5, 185x3, 225x2, 245x1, 265x1
probably had a bit more but called it there.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDMak

10 am with Jeremy- LBBS
Thought my comment posted, but it didn't. I was able to go up to 135 yesturday on my LBBS and it felt amazing. I came in thinking, "Mmmm, I"ll shoot for 85" but Coach Jeremy and my partner Lindsey, who I believe went up to 155, really pushed me. This was the highest we both ever went and it made me realize Im stronger than what I think I am. Thank you guys so much! That was definitely the highlight of my day.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPriscilla L.

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