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The High Bar Back Squat (HBBS)

October 24, 2012

I spent 3 days last week at Outlaw Camp, story training with some of the best CrossFit and weightlifting coaches in the country.  It was an excellent event, price and well worth the money.  It was geared toward experienced CrossFitters, and you needed to understand the “language” of CrossFit to get the most out of it.  I would recommend this camp to experienced CrossFitters.  Rudy Nielsen, the head Outlaw, has an near encyclopedic knowledge of CrossFit WODs in nearly all their forms.  All that knowledge, with a deep desire and thoughtfulness in how to get better led Rudy to create the Outlaw Way.


The reason I was attracted to the Outlaw Way is that Rudy and I generally believe the same things about CrossFit.  His first belief is “Everything is Everything”, meaning everything we do should carry over, or have transference, into everything else we do.  I completely agree with this concept, and that’s why I have emphasized the lifts and the movements I have over the years: I seek out movements that not only make you better, but carry over to other movements that make you better.  For example, you can do a lot of pushups, and get a little bit fitter.  Ring pushups may carryover better, helping develop shoulder stability, and ring dips may develop even more things.


Rudy is a huge believer in the power of the barbell, specifically the Olympic lifts, and even more specifically the Snatch.  He believes the power and precision required for the Snatch carries over to more aspects of fitness than nearly any other movement.  Again, no argument here.


Up until the camp, the only aspect of the Outlaw Way that I didn’t fully agree with was the use of the High Bar Back Squat (HBBS).  I believed the Low Bar Back Squat allowed for greater loading, and therefore was a better movement.  Once Rudy explained his thoughts, and demonstrated the HBBS, a light went off.  Basically, the HBBS simulates the O-lifts by placing the torso in a near vertical position.  This is essential in O-lifts, but a vertical torso will develop thrusters, wall balls and more.  I have perviously stated that I prefer the Front Squat to the HBBS, but the fact is, you can load the HBBS more.


Starting tomorrow, we’ll be programming the HBBS once a week.  For the first month, I would focus on performing the movement correctly, and I wouldn’t be too concerned with loading.  The HBBS develops strength, but it will really develop flexibility.


Please review the two videos I’ve posted.


Catalyst Athletics HBBS. (I can’t embed this one, so please click on the link.)

Notice the speed that Greg perform’s the HBBS.  This is the tempo we are looking for: dropping into a deep squat, working the bounce from the bottom, and squatting up quickly.


Jay Rhodes from Outlaw North performs a 405# HBBS.

Notice how close Jay’s hands are, basically in his clean grip, just racked on the back.

Think about developing the HBBS as learning a new skill.  Check your ego at the door, and learn how to move properly.  Here are some things to remember:

Position the bar high on the shoulders, on top of the traps.  This will be uncomfortable.  I’m not kidding.

Keep your grip close, like a clean grip, elbows down, but racked on your back.

Fight for a vertical torso (chest up and down).

You begin your squat with a slight “butt back”, then drop into a deep, below parallel squat.

Keep your weight on your heels.

Your feet will be positioned close, much like the front squat foot position.




Workout of the Day



High Bar Back Squat

Build to a heavy triple.

Focus on perfect form with a completely vertical torso.



3 rounds for reps

1 minute of Wallball Shots 20/14

1 minute of Pullups

1 minute of Handstand Pushups

1 minute of rest

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