An Olympic-sized barbell weighs 45 pounds. Other weighted bars range from 2 to 30 pounds. Regardless of the weight, when you hold a heavy bar near the back of your neck, you want a safe placement to avoid pain and injuries. The barbell squat is an effective lower-body strengthening exercise and one you can enjoy for years when you use proper technique.
Choose a weighted bar that allows you to complete at least eight but no more than 12 squats. As a beginner, select a light-weight bar the first few times you perform squats. Gradually increase the weight of the bar as your strength improves. If you are using an Olympic barbell, begin with the bar and add weight plates as you improve.
A squat rack supports the bar so you do not have to lift the bar onto your back. Adjust the rack so the bar is just below shoulder height. Step underneath the bar and place your right foot in front of your left. Place your hands on the bar slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. Face your palms forward. Position the bar high across the top of your shoulders and at the base of your neck.
If you have any neck problems or discomfort, position the bar lower. Begin with the bar in the squat rack. Step underneath the bar with one foot in front of the other. Grasp the bar with your palms facing forward, but this time use a slightly wider grip than when you place the bar high. Position the bar across the back of your shoulders well below the base of your neck.
A squat option that does not stress the back or the neck is a hack squat. Hold the bar behind your butt with your arms straight. Grasp the bar with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Face your palms behind you. Lower the bar to the floor when you squat and return to the starting position when you stand.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.