We had a busy week at TPS.

TeamEliteFTS member Swede stopped by for a few days with Brandon Lilly.

TPS C.J.  Murphy Swede

They smashed some weights and spread some knowledge. I wish I could have stayed and force fed them Whiskey, but I had to head to Connecticut for the RPS New England Revolution.
Here is a shot of Swede autographing the EliteFTS Monolift.

We have all the cool kids do this.

TPS Fix Your Squat Swede 5th set

Our Team competed Saturday and Sunday and they all did very well. I’ll have a full meet report up on my site in a day or so.

Let’s get on to the stuff you really want to know.

How to Fix Your Squat.

One of the areas I see that causes people to miss top weights that is almost never written about is hand position/setup on the bar.

Without sounding like a total dick, I have had this conversation with many coaches and some agree and some say it doesn’t make a difference.

I say the ones who think it does not matter are idiots and should look for a job at the whack shack mopping up because they clearly don’t know much about coaching.

Where and how you place/setup your hands on the bar makes all the difference in the world with big weights, or high volume work.

Hand position dictates many tings* including:
(*not a typo-Irish accent inserted)

  • Lat engagement
    Torso position
    Elbow position
    Ability to keep chest up
    Ability to finish the lift and not dump forward
    How hard you can squeeze the bar
    Elbow pain
    Wrist pain


Starting with your hands and wrists in a bad position sets you up to deliver less force, have less ability to control your body throughout the lift, increases your tendency to dump forward with heavy weight at the top  and decreases the lats ability to contract maximally and do what they are supposed to do.

As you can see, Justine has bent wrists, hands in a poor position and is starting dumped already.

I call this the USAPL hunch. You see it all the time.

TPS Fix Your Squat

TPS Fix Your Squat


Fixing this is not complicated but may require some work.


Here is another thing I see wrong all the time.


We call it the Jersey Claw.


TPS Fix Your Squat jersey claw 2


This is something we see in many bigger lifters.

They lack the ability to get their whole hand around the bar due to shoulder issues. If this is you, shoulder mobility should be your first priority.


Sure, there are many great lifters that will lift successfully with some of the mistakes I am pointing out here, but how much greater would they be if they were able to get into a position that was mechanically better?

 Fix Your Squat too wide bad wrists

In the photo above we see Justine with here hands too far apart.

This causes the wrist to break and limits her ability to squeeze her upper back and lats. You also see the elbows are up in the air instead of under the bar.

Here's a better angle on the elbows.

TPS Fix Your Squat (5)


In the photo below, we see the hands way too close.

TPS Fix Your Squat too close


This is another all too common issue we see.

The lats have zero ability to fire and stabilize in this position.

This takes pounds off your top end and can lead to shoulder problems over time.


Let's look at what I like to see on the bar.

I prefer a thumb less grip for most lifters for a few reasons:

less stress on the elbows

easier to keep the bar deep in the heel of the hand

easier to "bend" the bar and  fire the lats

TPS Fix Your Squat (8)


I like to see the bar in the heel of the hand and the last knuckle of the thumb over the top of the bar.

In the photos below you'll see how this sets her up to have more control of the bar and keep her wrists straight as well as keep the elbows under the bar.

TPS Fix Your Squat (10)

TPS Fix Your Squat (12)

TPS Fix Your Squat (11)

As you can see, placing the bar in the heel of the hand with a thumbless grip allows her to use her lats, keep her torso upright and get her elbows in the right position.

I know many coaches prefer a thumbs over the bar position because it is easier to squeeze the bar tighter with your whole hand on the bar.


With some practice, you can squeeze the bar just as hard without the thumb on it.


This position also takes a lot of stress off the elbow making it easier to squat pain free over the long haul.

We want to be able to lift for a long time right?

I feel that this grip and deep hand placement is well worth the tradeoff of a small amount of tightness in the hand.


We all know that squeezing the bar as hard as we can is optimal, but if you can't fire your lats and keep your torso up then, to me, this modification is well worth the effort.


If you have a tendency to dump forward in the squat, have elbow pain, or can't keep your chest up, give this a shot.

It works.


Ask me a question-Be sure and Type to Murph in the header

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Vincere vel mori


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