I’ve mentioned it before. One of the things that you need to focus on for optimal lifting is your position. That is to say your form. Whether you’re talking about high bar or low bar squats, sumo or conventional deadlifts, or even minor differences like a ten degree external hip rotation compared to a 15 degree external hip rotation. Some of these differences are big, some of them are minute, yet can have a huge impact on your performance. More important than that, you have to know when it’s time to change, and why you need to change.

 

Weight Gain

Despite what jealous lean people say about their corpulent counterparts, added fat doesn’t make you a stronger or better lifter. Fat, while useful for keeping you warm, doesn’t move your bones. It doesn’t get stronger. It doesn’t have much (if any) elastic rebound. So to get that out of the way, assume that the fat strong guy who has a great total is also strong underneath that fat layer. You, in the quest for bigger muscles and lifts, know that getting too fat isn’t the answer. So with that said, your weight gain comes in the form of solid bulk muscle. What does this mean for your form?

It means your leverages are going to change. The first thing to understand is what we call a moment arm. If you take the line of force (the direction you’re exerting) and the joint axis (the straight line where a joint rotates) and figure the length between the two, that is your moment arm.

For an exercise like the squat, we exert with our feet, and our butt and quads create moment arms at the knee and hip joint. Depending on the form we use, the moment arms will be different. For instance, in a hip dominant low bar squat, the moment arm is greater at the hip joint, and in a high bar squat it’s less than the low bar but we get a longer moment arm at the knee joint.

To elaborate on the squat further, if you are looking for a starting point for your form, consider the following:

  • Are you hip or quad dominant? A lot of people fall into the latter category. So starting with a high bar squat will be a good way to “meet yourself where you are.”
  • How much muscle do you have and how long are your bones?
  • What’s your training history? If you spent a good portion or your life long distance running and are new to lifting, this will help you out with the answer to both the first and second question.
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