Before the athlete begins to squat, he must take the initial position, which is preceded by a number of preparatory actions of the athlete:
1) athlete approaches to the barbells on the rack, gripping the bar ensuring the right width of the grip;
2) mount the bar on the upper back;
3) bar unracking
4) athlete steps out from the rack with the barbells on the upper back;
Athlete’s approach to the barbell on the racks, gripping of bar of the barbell, grip width
Taking a start position begins with gripping the bar at a defined width (width of grip) before unracking the barbell (Photo 1).
According to technical regulations of competitions two types of bar grips are allowed: overhand grip, with all fingers placed on the bar on the one side (photo 2) and a common grip, as four fingers are on the one side of the bar, and the thumb is on the opposite side (Photo 3).
The width of grip is individual for each athlete and depends on his anatomical organization, flexibility at elbow and shoulder joints, and muscle mass. That is why athletes use different width of grip:
– maximum wide (photo 4)
– medium (photo 5)
– narrow (photo 6)
This element requires that elbows are slightly lifted up to prevent barbell sliding down. The upper back and both hands must form a distinct triangle, enabling the barbell being safely positioned on the shoulders of the athlete through all the phases of barbell motion.
Position of the bar on shoulders
In powerlifting, the bar is placed on the back part of deltoid muscles and on the mid position of trapezius muscles (photo 7), while bending the back slightly forward. To retain the bar on that part of the back, it should be tensely fixed with arms, which puts an increased load on the wrist joints. Such a technique enables shortening of the vertebral lever and eases the load on the muscles of the back. With low bar positions on the shoulders, the athlete has to bend deeper forward to maintain the barbell in its position (photo 8). The greater the bend forward, the less is the load on legs, and the more of the load is on the back.
Some powerlifters place the bar over the top of trapezoid as weightlifters do (Photo 9), but at such a high position of the bar on the back, the trunk inclination angle forward will be minimal relative to the vertical. With such stance, muscles are under the highest load.
Is made by straining the muscles of legs and back. As the barbell is placed on shoulders, the trunk muscles are strained, and shoulder blades are pulled together.
Squat must be made at a narrow stance, normal for a common (standing) position so that as the athlete steps back he does not lose balance (photo 10, 11, 12).
Athlete steps out from the rack with the barbells on the upper back
This element consists of one or two large steps depending on the design of rack. Then the athlete takes a stable position so that the overall center of gravity (CG) is evenly distributed between the heels and toes of both feet, i.e. in the center of the foot (Photo 13-15).
Many athletes, many stance variants – wide (photo 16), medium (photo 17) and narrow (photo 18).
At the start, the athlete takes a stable position with the trunk positioned vertically (slight deviation of the trunk from the vertical position is acceptable) and with legs straight in the knee joints.
Squatting with barbell on the upper back
Before squatting the athlete makes a small vigorous breathing in squats with breath held. The chest must be kept at an elevated position, elbows are retracted (photo 19, 20).
Squatting of the athlete continues from the start of bending his knees and lowering of trunk so that the crease of the hip is lower than the top of the knee, according to the competition rules (photo 21).
It is recommended that the athlete is particularly careful about the start of squat. The bar must be positioned directly over the midfoot.
At squatting, knees must move in the direction of toes. The head must be slightly lifted.
Standing up from the squatted position
Standing up from the lowest point of the squat begins with straightening of the less loaded knee joint. Shoulders and pelvis must elevate at an equivalent speed. The breathing out is performed only in the upper third of standing up from the squatted position (photo 22, 23, 24).
Lock in the final position
Back is straightened in the upper third of standing up from the squatted position at the same time with the maximum straightening of legs at knee joint.
At the end of leg straightening at knee and hip joints, the athlete without relaxing the back muscles, and not losing the focus, is waiting for a signal of a judge “back to racks” (photo 24).
Putting the barbell back on the racks
After a command of the senior judge “back to the racks” the barbell is returned to the racks with a careful step forward with the back muscles strained and chest lifted. Assistants are allowed to provide help to the athlete to return the barbell to the racks, and to support the barbell, according to the technical regulations of competitions.