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Top Squat

Dave Draper's top squat

Click here to buy a Top Squat

Dave Draper here...

The Top Squat was developed for the athlete who loves to squat, realizes the important role it plays in strength and muscle building and would like an alternative method for holding the bar in place across the back. Shoulder problems are no rarity among athletes, especially strength and muscle-building athletes, and securing the bar with outstretched arms can be distressing if not impossible. The Bomber Top Squat is a powerful apparatus which positions a pair of rugged handles sensibly in front of the shoulders for comfort, safety and control.

There are two Top Squats to choose from:

1) The Thick-Line Padded Top Squat (seen above), $119

This 18¾", 11-gauge heat-treated steel tube coated with dense polyurethane is customized to press onto your 1 1/16th" bar. The plastic-coated tubular section offers a densely padded 3-inch diameter support with an indented, centrally located vertebra relief for weight distribution and shoulder comfort. Two solid steel one-inch handles extend outward 16 inches at agreeable angles and with slight end-curves for universal functionality. The unit is slick and rugged at 15 pounds.

2) The Metal-Line Top Squat, $99

This version of the TS is for the lifter who prefers plain pain and the feel of the steel. It is unpadded 1¾" steel tubing, 9-guage and heat treated with the same handle configuration. Only a thin rubber sheeting provides resistance from unwelcome bar movement.

The concept of the Top Squat was conceived in my late 50s when I overloaded my upper back and shoulder cage while pursuing some aggressive squat and dead lift training.

Humbled and healing, I realized I could no longer squat as my shoulder rotation was limited by the painful and damaging injuries I sustained. Positioning my hands to control the bar or extending my arms the length of the bar for support was impossible.

That I could not squat cuz my shoulders were limited in range seemed unacceptable. If only I could balance the bar from a comfortable and powerful placement of the hands and arms before me, like two handles protruding from the front of the bar itself.

Voila, the Top Squat. Hefty enough for gorillas and designed for all levels of fitness advancement, the unit makes squatting possible again when it once was retired to the heap of bittersweet memories.

Training without squatting is like lightning without thunder. The bright instantaneous dance of light is captivating, but you’ve got to feel the earth move under your feet and hear the great rumbling down the length of your back.

The Top Squat is as simple as squatting, agreeably not the easiest exercise in the lifter’s repertoire, but possibly the most effective. You center the unit on your standard 1 1/16th" bar and press it into place. Secure the beast to the bar with the pair of nylon and Velcro safety straps provided and you’re ready for action. After a few hardy workouts you’ll probably forego the safety straps as the unit remains sufficiently in place by pressure.

Here is where the lifter does his thing, comfortably locating his or her body in relation to the apparatus. Stand close to the bar and grasp the handles near the curve and duck under the bar as is your customary approach. Maneuver yourself feet position, body erectness, shoulder-trap placement, etc and unrack the bar adequately loaded to achieve a groove but not to set any world records. To begin I find that the handles in a 45-degree downward position are just right for comfort and the functional upward rotation. Testing: one, two, three. Be attentive, be confident.

Once in position, balanced and solid, move the handles up and down to become familiar with their range, sureness and advantage. As you raise the handles (parallel or above) the bar will follow the Top Squat’s rotation and position the bar backward for ultimate squatting efficiency and performance, AKA the powerful and perfect squat. The erectness of the back can be determined by the raising or lowering of the handles, an added attraction I had not foreseen in the inception of the Top Squat and have come to appreciate.

The action of the squat remains true. It is not altered unless you choose to for lower back safety, maximum thigh power or improved thigh recruitment.

Within a few sets of thoughtful squatting I think you’ll agree the Top Squat builds strong legs while protecting the shoulders and back. If your shoulders are troublesome, you’ll jump up and down like we do when we have a spectacular workout. If your shoulders are healthy, unimpaired and without pain, you must be young, invincible or new at the sport. Swell. The chances of you damaging your rotation cuff will be reduced considerably, as supporting the bar in the conventional manner while squatting is a tremendous stress on the vulnerable and overworked shoulder region.

Put squats back in your workouts and start climbing those once-impossible mountains again.

Zoom zoom... The Bomber... DD

Click here to buy a Top Squat

What others have to say about the Draper Top Squat

Dr. Ken Leistner, Summer 2003

"All of my trainees found the Top Squat very easy to use, convenient and comfortable, even while using weights in excess of four hundred pounds. The handles made control of the bar a non-issue. For those with shoulder problems and an inability to externally rotate the arm, the Top Squat is an extremely useful piece of equipment." .....Dr. Ken Leistner

Frank Ferrara, Defensive End of the New York Giants
6'3", 295 pounds, working hard under the Top Squat

" tightness in my back -- a lot more quad involvement; I go futher down and I feel like I have better control." Lon Baldridge, Physical Therapist

"I can keep my balance very well as I just raise the handles as I go down. I have not been able to squat for years and I love the Top Squat.... Wow." George Boedecker

"Wow! It's everything I'd hope it would be. Aside from providing relief to aging shoulders and cuff irritations, it acts as a lever to control movement -- with attention and mindfulness." Ken O'Neill

"My gym members and I are very impressed with the Top Squat; it's an incredible device! It's helped me to teach the squat to numerous people who ordinarily would have difficulty due to shoulder problems." Jim Caruso, Canyon Gym

"Everyone training should have one. It doesn't matter whether you are nursing a shoulder injury or not-it's the only way to squat. Once it's set up the bar is centered permanently and there's no messing about with hand spacing, etc., so it's a much safer way to squat, too. I wish that Dave had dreamt it up years ago." Mike Payne

"Totally comfortable. It did not even feel like there was a bar on my back. Squatting was as easy as pie. Nothing to it. No balance problems at all. No pain in my shoulders, back, neck or anywhere. Unbelievable." Karen Orsi

"Did real squats yesterday for the first time in a long spell, and no shoulder interaction at all." Will Taylor

"Talk about a different feeling. It feels very much like a front squat without all the pain. Since it's a high bar position, the quads sure get a lot of work too." Sam Tsang

"Wow! This thing is great! The Top Squat lets me get deeper in the hole than I've been able to in a long time. I'm very happy with the product. I think it will be a real winner." Casey Seebon

Top Squat Video Clip

Dave recently did a short video to demonstrate the use of the Top Squat, and to explain the purpose and benefits of the device. To download the Quicktime video, right-click (or control-click on a Mac) on the link below. Select "Save Target as" to download the video to your desktop. Depending on your internet connection, this may take several minutes to download.

3.9mg MPEG-4 Draper Top Squat Video

For those of you with DSL or cable modems, here's the expanded version, a 6-minute video:

10 megabyte

20 megabyte

50 megabyte

The only difference between these files is the size of the QuickTime video window; larger's better if you have broadband.

If you don't have Quicktime or need an upgrade to run an MPEG-4 video, you can download it free by clicking here.

Click here to buy a Top Squat





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