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Thread: Asymmetrical Squat Bar

  1. #1
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    Default Asymmetrical Squat Bar

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    Hi there,
    I have been squatting for several years now, mostly high bar. Only about two months now, when I started reading and going on the Starting Strength program did I switch to low-bar squats. At the same time, I had read a neat trick in the book about dealing with an uncentred and unleveled bar. Problems which I have had for many years now with my squats, but gave up trying to fix, because I believed it was unfixable. I was thrilled when I found out and tested that just taking an asymmetrical grip put the bar closer to the centre again (but not perfectly yet).

    The problem I have now is that, as my squats weight have been getting heavier I've begun to notice that because my asymmetrical grip comes with a downside. That is, because I keep my right arm further out. My shelf on that side is not as prominent, and weight can begin to slip or bear down more on my arms on that side. Furthermore, despite the better centred bar, it still not perfectly centre, and I'm not sure how far I should go with an asymmetrical grip before it is too ridiculous and unsafe. Furthermore, I find that the left side of the bar is higher than my right side, which should have been fixed with the asymmetrical grip but it is still present.

    In summary, my questions are:
    1. How far should I go with the asymmetrical grip, before its too much?
    2. How do I actually deal with the underlying issue that causes an uncentred bar in the first place? Because eventually I want to return to having a symmetrical grip, so that I can have symmetrical shelfs for the bar. In the book it mentions underlying significant differences in shoulder flexibility is oftentimes the cause - sometimes caused by injury. How would I increase this flexibility? I also have never had a shoulder injury before.
    3. How would I fix the unlevel bar? I find myself noticing it more as the weights get heavier. For example, sometimes when I squat heavy I begin to rotate in the sagittal plane. My right heels begins to come off the floor as I turn towards my left side.

    Below are images for reference: 1 - symmetrical and wide grip. 2 - symmetrical and narrow grip. 3 - asymmetrical grip. 4 - same asymetrical grip but just another picture.
    Imgur: The magic of the Internet

    Thanks for any help

  2. #2
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    Default

    Why can you not use a symmetrical grip?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Why can you not use a symmetrical grip?
    When I use a symmetrical bar grip, bar shifts towards the right of my back. I dont personally notice the uneveness, so it is difficult to adjust on my own, unless someone is there. But even if someone is there, when they tell me to shift the bar to the left side of my back so its centred again, it feels wonky, off balanced, off centred.
    I think it could have to do with my shoulders? Because when i try the front squat front rack position the bar is unevenly resting on my shoulders. It touches my left shoulder while it doesnt touch my right.

  4. #4
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    I'm familiar with this problem. I think when the OP uses a symmetrical grip, the bar doesn't sit plumb on his shelf. A symmetrical grip for him causes the bar to be tilted, but if he offsets the grip, he can get the bar closer to center (albeit with other sacrifices that he has identified).

    If the asymmetry is structural, as in one arm being shorter than the other, I'm not sure what a solution might be. If it's an asymmetry in mobility (e.g. one shoulder can't retract as much when he creates the shelf) there is hope in restoring a more symmetrical grip. I'm not sure how Danny might go about exploring this. Maybe a good PT could help to narrow down the source of the asymmetry. He brings up a good point about how to find a happy medium here.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyphm View Post
    But even if someone is there, when they tell me to shift the bar to the left side of my back so its centred again, it feels wonky, off balanced, off centred.
    When it feels this way, how does it actually move when you squat?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Donaldson View Post
    When it feels this way, how does it actually move when you squat?
    Well since I had the problem for years I started trying learning to stabilise the uneven bar on my back by using slow eccentric squats, pause squats, and trying to think of keeping the bar over midfoot the best I coild.
    But prior to this, or when the weight gets heavy for me, my torso begins twisting to face the left, rotating the bar sagitally in an anti-clockwise manner. My hips will also tend to shift to the right side. My right knee will cave in a bit I think, and my right heel comes of the ground as the weight goes to toes of the right foot. More weight gets focused on my left foot.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyphm View Post
    Well since I had the problem for years I started trying learning to stabilise the uneven bar on my back by using slow eccentric squats, pause squats, and trying to think of keeping the bar over midfoot the best I coild.
    But prior to this, or when the weight gets heavy for me, my torso begins twisting to face the left, rotating the bar sagitally in an anti-clockwise manner. My hips will also tend to shift to the right side. My right knee will cave in a bit I think, and my right heel comes of the ground as the weight goes to toes of the right foot. More weight gets focused on my left foot.
    Show us a video of your squat from the rear. This doesnít sound like an issue with your grip.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dannyphm View Post

    Below are images for reference:
    In the first two top pictures, the bar is not in the right position. Look at the center knurling, it's shifted to the right. Same goes for the fourth picture, at the bottom. The third is probably off too, but by a narrower margin.
    You can't have a symmetrical grip if the bar itself is not in a central position.
    I think this needs fixing first.
    I would take a symmetrical grip, and have someone check the position of the bar on your back at every set, just before you lift the bar off the hooks.
    Once the bar sits in the middle of your back, you can experiment further.

    Hope this helps,

    IPB

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satch12879 View Post
    Show us a video of your squat from the rear. This doesnít sound like an issue with your grip.
    I don't have any recent footage of me doing a symmetrical grip with bar off-centre. But here is the most recent one I could find.
    High Bar Squat - Off-Centred Bar - YouTube
    It was like end of last year, back when I was still doing high bar. When I made the switch to low bar, was when i also added the assymetrical grip change at the same time. I'm not sure how much of use of it is to you, but the same body effects would still happeni.e. i twist a bit to the left, although you can't really see in this one because its submaximal weight.
    Here is more recent footage of my low bar squat now with an asymmetrical grip to make sure the bar is more centred.
    Low Bar Squat - Asymmetrical Grip - More Centred Bar - YouTube

    Quote Originally Posted by IlPrincipeBrutto View Post
    In the first two top pictures, the bar is not in the right position. Look at the center knurling, it's shifted to the right. Same goes for the fourth picture, at the bottom. The third is probably off too, but by a narrower margin.
    You can't have a symmetrical grip if the bar itself is not in a central position.
    I think this needs fixing first.
    I would take a symmetrical grip, and have someone check the position of the bar on your back at every set, just before you lift the bar off the hooks.
    Once the bar sits in the middle of your back, you can experiment further.

    Hope this helps,

    IPB
    Well thats the problem I am having. When I have a symmetrical grip. The bar ends up being off-centred, even though I feel it on my back as centred. When I do get someone to force me to centre it, it feels wonky, like I'm leaning to one side. I'm not sure if the wonkiness feeling is just because I am not use to the centred bar after years of being off-centred. Only because, recently when I changed to have an asymmetrical grip, which gave me a more centred bar, it didnt feel weirdly wonky like it did when I had a symmetrical grip with a centred bar that was forced.

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    As I suspected; itís not your grip. Make sure your stance is even and check for a leg length discrepancy. Itís not much, but itís there.

    Rip, thoughts?

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