I was approached in the gym last week by a guy telling me he was impressed that I was doing what he called “Spartan squats”.
What is a Spartan squat? He was actually referring to the fact that I was squatting without using a pad on the bar like he normally does.
When I asked him why he uses the padding, he said it’s because the bar hurts the bones at the top of his back.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Well here’s what you need to do in order to lose the pad:
1) Notice that if the bar hurts you then it is in the wrong position on your back. In all likeliness you are setting the bar too high up on your shoulders.
2) Now you know where you normally hold the bar you should pinch together your shoulder blades nice and tightly - This will form a natural ridge in the muscles in your upper back. It is here that the bar should be.
3) Adjust the bar so that it settles against your muscles and not against your bones. This may be quite a lot lower down your shoulders and traps than you perhaps previously thought.
4) Keep your shoulders blades pinched together and your head cocked slightly upwards to really lock that bar in position on your back whilst you do the squats.
5) You should find that the pain you previously felt whilst squatting with no pad is no longer there!
So why should you squat without a pad when you are getting on just fine with one on?
1) It does affect your technique and posture whilst doing the movement. Depending on how thick the pad is, you will find it is actually much less secure on your back and you will be using your arms a lot more than you should in order to keep the bar in place, thus using vital energy you could be using to lift more weight.
2) It eventually will limit the amount you can lift! This is because the padding softens the weight and your central nervous system doesn’t sense the full load that you have put onto it, meaning that you are not going to be fully lifting to your potential. This is the same reason why I believe in not wearing gloves when training.
3) Apparently it makes others see you as a Spartan! And that can only be a good thing.
There we go… always educate yourself in the gym and always ask yourself why you are doing something differently to someone else.
Train Hard but Train Smart!