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  • Difficulty keeping barbell on back

    I started doing the BBM novice prescription 4 weeks ago. I have been doing low bar squats and my current working sets at RPE 8 are: 4x215 lbs, 7x190 lbs, and 10x160 lbs at a body weight of 204 lbs or so.

    Within the last week I have noticed soreness in my wrists after my working sets. It seems like during my sets the bar is sliding down my back and my wrist is bending back to compensate. Today I put 135 on the bar and spent a while just experimenting with different placements on my back. I noticed that the bar was gradually creeping down my back and further into my hands even when I was just standing with it. I noticed the same thing and the same wrist soreness in the high bar position as well. I found that if I focused very hard on keeping my wrists from bending I could do so, but would then feel soreness in my elbow when re-racking the weight.

    I was wondering if anyone else had experience with this, and if they had found a way to alleviate it. When I slide under the bar I focus very hard on squeezing my shoulder blades together, and try to maintain this cue throughout my sets. I'm also trying to feel the weight on my back instead of in my hands, but during my sets I usually can't maintain this since at some point my wrists bend back.

    I'm not sure if this is relevant either, but I am an extremely sweaty man. By the end of every day of training so far my t-shirt has been covered in dark sweat stains, and I am usually noticeably sweaty by the end of my squat warmup. It's most noticeable on my head, neck and back, so I suppose it could be making things too slick back there for the barbell to stay put. But that's just conjecture.

    I hope somebody has been in the same boat and figured out a way to deal with it. This is my first forum post so if I've made a mistake posting this I'll happily delete it. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    I used to have this problem, I found putting some liquid chalk (or regular chalk) on my back helped the bar stay in position. I also sometimes used to chalk the bar as well as my back.

    Comment


    • #3
      You're saying the bar is sliding down your back even when you place it on your traps to high-bar squat?

      Does the bar have center knurling? Is your shirt cotton? Have you tried wearing wrist wraps?

      Post a form check video here or on facebook.

      Comment


      • #4
        Do you train at a commercial gym? Chances are you are using a crappy barbell. The sleeves and the barbell roll as a unit whereas a good quality barbell will have bearings in the sleeves. That way the sleeves can rotate without causing the bar itself to want to roll on you.
        I have similar problem with ancient, low quality barbells at the gym I train at. Then I trained at a friend's garage gym and he had excellent barbells with bearings and the barbell never moved on me at all during squats.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DkMetz View Post
          Do you train at a commercial gym? Chances are you are using a crappy barbell. The sleeves and the barbell roll as a unit whereas a good quality barbell will have bearings in the sleeves. That way the sleeves can rotate without causing the bar itself to want to roll on you.
          I have similar problem with ancient, low quality barbells at the gym I train at. Then I trained at a friend's garage gym and he had excellent barbells with bearings and the barbell never moved on me at all during squats.
          I go to a commercial gym, yeah. They have lots of different barbells, olympic, rogue, womens etc. The one I was using for the sets I mentioned in my OP post was a pretty old one with no central knurling, so that might have been causing problems. I'm new to barbells in general so I didn't consider that.

          Regarding a form check:

          https://youtu.be/vjeT-ykTxQU

          In this set I used one of the olympic bars and wore a dry fit shirt under my sweater to stop my sweater from getting so sweat stained. I didn't notice any elbow or wrist pain and the bar felt secure which is great. but I realized while making these that my depth isn't quite there, which is why I paused the last rep- I wanted to get an idea of how the bottom position "should" feel.

          I don't know if it's okay to ask for advice about that in the same thread (if not I'll delete this post and make a new one) but do you guys have any methods or cues you use to ensure you're hitting depth each time?

          Also, sorry for the lateness of my reply.

          Comment


          • DkMetz
            DkMetz commented
            Editing a comment
            The commercial gym in my small town, the owner doesn't spend money on anything. All of the barbells have no centre knurling but the centre of all the barbells has been wrapped in hockey tape! It's better than nothing but quite unhygenic as that tape absorbs everything.

        • #6
          Your depth is pretty decent. You could go an inch or two lower. You're on the right track by filming yourself. The more you practice, the better you'll be at judging your depth.

          I'd say you're a bit upright for a low-bar squat. You're doing a good job keeping your upper back tight. But I'd try the following:

          1. Tighten your back by setting your lats down. You want to keep your elbows lower, more down by your lats (sides). One common cue is to think about bending the bar down over your back.

          2. Bend over a bit more and keep that back angle throughout the descent and ascent.

          Bending over a bit more should help keep the bar on your back better.

          As to wrist & elbow pain, I'd experiment with thumb under grip and thumb over the bar grip. While you want to get your hands relatively close to your shoulders, sometimes keeping your grip wider can help with lingering pain.
          Last edited by sjalbrec; 02-25-2020, 11:23 PM.

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by sjalbrec View Post
            Your depth is pretty decent. You could go an inch or two lower. You're on the right track by filming yourself. The more you practice, the better you'll be at judging your depth.

            I'd say you're a bit upright for a low-bar squat. You're doing a good job keeping your upper back tight. But I'd try the following:

            1. Tighten your back by setting your lats down. You want to keep your elbows lower, more down by your lats (sides). One common cue is to think about bending the bar down over your back.

            2. Bend over a bit more and keep that back angle throughout the descent and ascent.

            Bending over a bit more should help keep the bar on your back better.

            As to wrist & elbow pain, I'd experiment with thumb under grip and thumb over the bar grip. While you want to get your hands relatively close to your shoulders, sometimes keeping your grip wider can help with lingering pain.
            Thanks for the feedback. I should have been filming my sets from my start. I think most of my previous sets were pretty high, as in that set I was trying really hard to go lower and the set "felt" lower than my normal ones.

            Before I had been bending over a lot more at the start of the descent, and while I can't know this for sure without videos I think my knees were slamming forward once my hips could not go any further back. I had been trying to get my knees out of the way in that video and let the final portion of the descent be all bending at the hips, but there's probably a middle ground between those two extremes that I'll get to with more practice and videos.

            Here's another video from today:
            https://youtu.be/vleNSw-0IDU

            I tried to do what you said regarding "bending the bar across my back". I don't think my elbows look any lower than the previous video, but I have a tendency to forget cues mid-set and that one is new to me so I'll just keep it in mind for future sets. Didn't experience any pain except when I re-racked the bar, but that was gone when I straightened my arms and heard my elbow pop.

            I tried to bend over more as well, especially after the first rep which felt like too much knee bend and not enough hip. They still look high like the other video but definitely better than what I was doing.

            The set was supposed to be RPE 9 but felt more like 8. Should I progress weekly in weight from here? My previous sets of 4 were heavier but the form was worse and my hip flexors were always sore and hurting after. Is the form in the video a good starting point for working my way back up?


            Comment


            • #8

              How long have you been squatting? I ask because the aches and pains and soreness you seem to be experiencing might be a result of not having spent a lot of time under the bar? I imagine they are things you will adapt to as you get more comfortable squatting. I also can't help but think your technique will get better and better as you go. That said, here are a few things that have helped me in the past:

              Record every set for a while. It is super helpful. I know sjalbrec already mentioned that, but it's worth the repeat.

              Tempo squats and paused reps - this really helped me find good positioning through all portions of the squat.

              Grip width/placement - don't be afraid to try different placements on the bar. I also place my thumb over the bar (not around it) which has helped a ton with wrist and elbow pain. Also - have you tried moving the bar up or down on your back? This also may affect your wrist and elbow pain.

              Set your lats? People talk a lot about finding them, setting them, pulling them down, etc, but can you even feel them? It took me a long time to figure this one out, because I simply didn't know or have the awareness to feel them, and I didn't know how to flex them. So, I picked a few movements to help isolate my lats and that really helped me figure out the cue. The most helpful movements FOR ME were single-arm pull downs, some single arm rows, and wide grip pull downs. There are lots of exercises to choose from so pick what works for you.

              If you can, try to get a better angle (head to toe) if possible. That might help more folks offer up valuable advice for you.

              Hopefully some of this helps, man. Enjoy your training!

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by Rubendanger View Post
                How long have you been squatting? I ask because the aches and pains and soreness you seem to be experiencing might be a result of not having spent a lot of time under the bar? I imagine they are things you will adapt to as you get more comfortable squatting. I also can't help but think your technique will get better and better as you go. That said, here are a few things that have helped me in the past:

                Record every set for a while. It is super helpful. I know sjalbrec already mentioned that, but it's worth the repeat.

                Tempo squats and paused reps - this really helped me find good positioning through all portions of the squat.

                Grip width/placement - don't be afraid to try different placements on the bar. I also place my thumb over the bar (not around it) which has helped a ton with wrist and elbow pain. Also - have you tried moving the bar up or down on your back? This also may affect your wrist and elbow pain.

                Set your lats? People talk a lot about finding them, setting them, pulling them down, etc, but can you even feel them? It took me a long time to figure this one out, because I simply didn't know or have the awareness to feel them, and I didn't know how to flex them. So, I picked a few movements to help isolate my lats and that really helped me figure out the cue. The most helpful movements FOR ME were single-arm pull downs, some single arm rows, and wide grip pull downs. There are lots of exercises to choose from so pick what works for you.

                If you can, try to get a better angle (head to toe) if possible. That might help more folks offer up valuable advice for you.

                Hopefully some of this helps, man. Enjoy your training!
                I started lifting in January. I did LP-style programming for the first month before someone gave me the novice prescription as a belated christmas present. You're probably right that my form will even out as a I keep training.

                I started doing paused squats this week. They revealed a lot of flaws in my form and I had to use a substantially lower weight than my normal sets, but it is for the best. I haven't done tempo squats yet, but I have been trying to slow down my descent and not dive bomb.

                Regarding grip, my pain is almost gone since my OP post. When I first started in January I was putting the bar way too low, and fixing that made the biggest difference. Since I made this thread and gotten feedback I've also been avoiding the older worn-out bars at my gym and wearing a dry-fit shirt under my cotton shirt to stop the sweat from soaking through. The only discomfort I experience on a regular basis now occurs when I rerack the bar- my elbows feel a bit of pressure. But that usually goes away if I pull my arms back when I let go of the bar until I hear a popping sound. It's definitely not significant enough to stop me doing any sets.

                I've been trying to follow the lats cue, but like you said I have trouble "feeling" them tense up. I notice that flexed feeling most when doing pull downs so I think I should keep doing them and try to replicate that feeling when the bar is on my back.

                Here are some more sets I did this week and last week-I wish I could have edited these together, but I don't have any software for that.

                https://youtu.be/-o0f34lG_AQ
                https://youtu.be/THaFoRczxiw
                https://youtu.be/WZol3bsqSH0

                The second video looks like a lot more forward knee movement than the first and maybe some knee caving, but my stance was a bit more splayed-out for that session so maybe that's why. The third video is my first time doing paused squats, and you can see I have a lot of discomfort in the bottom position. I don't feel stable down there and tend to slide into my knees to feel more comfortable. I also drive up before counting out the full 2 Mississippi's in some of the reps. That's also the first set I've done in a while where I could feel my wrists start to bend back during the set, and if you notice my grip on the bar at the end it's a bit less straight than in the other videos. My lower back was also a bit sore after that set. I think I need to get better at breathing and bracing, especially during these longer sets where I fatigue and get a bit lazy with it. If anyone has any tips for that it would be much appreciated.

                Thanks again for the feedback, everybody. You guys have helped me a lot.

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