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Low-bar squat position with the Top Squat

I have a question about the Top Squat. I like to do low bar squats. I do have flexibility issues and thus I’m always looking for something that would help me with my posture during the squat. The Top Squat and the Manta Ray look to do about the same thing, but I notice the bar position with the Manta Ray high and the squat movement looks more up and down as opposed to breaking at the hips and sitting back like in a low bar squat. Would your bar be appropriate for someone doing low bar squats?

The Top Squat is a terrific, simple apparatus for all squatting positions and provides ease on the shoulder structure and encourages new dimension and freedom to the full squat movement. Grasping the handles in a downward hanging position assume a safe and generic bar position. Then… stand upright.

At this point settle your stance and raise the handles quite naturally forward and up. This subtle action rolls the unit and bar back and down to your favorite position of execution.

The heavy TS polyurethane affords tough comfort for the back and shoulders as you descend. Slight yet effective adjustments in the squat groove to effect comfort, safety and thigh engagement are easily and instinctively made by finessing the handles. Squat like never before with new command and assurance and desire. You’re in charge.

I found the Manta Ray settled too high, resulting in, for me, an improper groove.

I designed the Top Squat because I couldn’t reach back to hold and support the bar. It turned out to provide far more advantage than just reach.

If you don’t like it, you can return it for a refund.

Go… God’strength… Dave

Where is the weight held with the top squat?

Where is the majority of weight placed when using the top squat? Is it placed on the back of the neck or shoulders or back or where? I want to make sure I can use it before I buy one.

The last thing we want is for you to receive the top squat and find it personally useless. Here’s a video to give you some idea of the top squat in action:

The weight is distributed evenly throughout a dense three-inch polyurethane across the shoulders or as low on the back as you choose. You determine the position.

The great feature is the extended handles that allow tough and comfortable grasping for total bar stability. Further, the handles can be raised or lowered during the squat, a movement that positions the bar in the safest and most advantageous placement. I love it cuz of shoulder limitations and my abhorrence of the bar-on-the-back pain. The rotation of the bar to a likable position mid-movement is most agreeable for power reps or directing the resistance for quad engagement and performance.

Two out of 100 buyers are looking for something else.

The TS is real squatting… with handles.

Go… God’s speed… Dave

Top Squat question

Does the weight with the top squat feel heavier since you don’t have your hands back in the traditional way  and does balance come into play at least until you get used to it?

Takes a only few sets of sniffing around for an ironhead to accept and become accustomed to the Top Squat. Takes one good workout to fall in love with it. Weight doesn’t feel heavier or awkward, and balance improves with the control the handles provide for bar-positioning on the back.

Be strong… God’speed… Dave

Trap bar vs top squat

I saw your top squat apparatus for squats — I have shoulder arthritis and like you cannot hold bar on back like you normally do for squats. What do you think of the trap bar deadlift for legs?

The trapbar movement is, no doubt, a worthy muscle-worker. The drawbacks: As a steady exercise for legs it might become overall body-exhausting — an ugly, awesome weekly confrontation. If you love squats at all, the trapbar exercise will not satisfy your appetite; the movement — the positioning, the tugging — might become low back- and hip-challenging. If your training is important, but not a super duper major big deal, you’re good.

The Top Squat allows real-deal squatting, thank God.

Mercy… Dave

Top Squat Question

I am 56 years old and just had  my left knee repaired. I am ready to start squatting again. I can’t do low rep sets anymore, but can do sets of 10-12. I don’t have a problem with my shoulder rotation, but I have never liked how the weight felt on my shoulders or lower neck. No matter how much padding I use, the bar hurts my shoulders and neck. I am thinking of trying out the Top Squat if it makes the load on the shoulders and neck more comfortable. Comments?

Here’s the scoop. I absolutely love the unit. It makes true squatting a pleasure. The bar goes across the back via a three-inch hard polyurethane structure that does not dig into the traps harshly. The bar is then positioned to move as you want or need it to by raising or lowering the rugged, shoulder-saving handles. The Top Squat enabled me to squat well into my 60s when shoulder limitations prevented me from squatting with an Oly bar. Perfect reps with 425 was my last squat workout at 64.

As it goes, time and its attending aggravations (stenosis) has limited my leg work to farmer walks with kettlebells. I miss the top squatting more than malted milk shakes.

That it will work for you is not guaranteed. You might also try padding the bar with a towel or a vinyl-covered rubber pad specifically made for the purpose of padding.

Be wise. Be aware. Warm up. You might want to wrap the knees and squat to a bench till you feel safe and sound.

Still crazy… Dave and friends

Top Squat Question

I was looking at the top squat and maybe I missed it in the reading, but in your opinion could the Top Squat considerably reduce the risk of shoulder injury? I’ve been pretty lucky so far, but some days I can tell that I overtrain. Just curious because I’ve used the Manta Ray and it’s effective enough, but on those heavy squat days my shoulder seems to get more of a workout than my legs.

I devised the unit specifically because of my own shoulder damage… cannot reach back to stabilize the bar.

The top squat allows the lifter to hold the bar in place without stress on the shoulder cage, and enables the essential relocation of position of the load on the back to perfect the squat movement. The Manta Ray holds bar in one place, too high on my back to be healthy for me and does not unload the stress on my shoulders.

Here’s a video a young coach made with the top squat recently — thanks, Nick.


Using the Top Squat

I used my Top Squat for the first time today and have two snags that maybe you can give me some suggestions to help. Although I inserted the Top Squat onto a nice thick Olympic Bar, I am having a problem with keeping it in place. It seems to be rolling down my back giving me the feeling that I am gonna lose it. Also even though because of the rolling down my back issue prevented me from using much weight, I still got blistered around my traps. I was only wearing a T Shirt and will wear a sweatshirt next time to see if that help.

I know this might sound nutty, but are you certain you have the Top Squat on the bar correctly? It almost sounds as if you have the unit upside down. The bar should sit in the Top Squat, and the handles will have a slight bend upwards. The Top Squat doesn’t rest on top of the bar, and the handles don’t point down.

If the bar is loose in the Top Squat, you have a couple of options. Either cement a layer of inner tube inside the unit to take up a bit of space, or, if your bar’s older, wind a layer of duct tape around the bar where the ends of the unit are located when installed.  This works well to make a snug fit.

The Top Squat takes a bit of healthy practice and positioning to gain control and full advantage. See the Top Squat page and click on video link highlighted in red.

It is to the lifter’s advantage that the bar rolls to desirable positions by the direction of the lifter to gain maximum resistance productivity. As you gain equipment understanding and confidence, you’ll relax the shoulders and apply a less-intense control of the handles. It’s a dream piece of equipment.



Top squat

I have never been able to do barbell squats for 2 reasons. The pressure of heavy weight needs to be spread over a larger area than is possible with a bar going across my spine. My shoulders are not built to allow my arms to support a heavy weight held behind my neck. Is the top squat compatible with the Manta Ray by Advance Fitness Inc?

The 3-inch tough polyurethane covering of the Top Squat spreads the weight comfortably and allows you to rotate the bar into an advantageous position on the back by a slight hand movement. Your arms and hands are in front of you to relieve shoulder and elbow and wrist discomfort and avoid injury risk. It won’t work with the Manta Ray, but there’s no reason for both — the Top Squat will do what you need alone.

This a dynamite piece of equipment highly appreciated  by many lifters, large and small, and, alas, it’s under exposed. I absolutely love it.

Stay warm… Godspeed… Dave

Top Squat bar fit

What can I do if I order the top squat and my bar doesn’t fit in it? I read in a forum the bar might sometimes shift if it’s too small.

I’m extraordinarily happy with the Top Squat, its functions and soundness. I use a thicker Olympic bar and the fit is tight, though the bar does not settle deeply into the unit.

When the bar is smaller than average, a thin layer of inner tube glued into the top squat is a permanent solution. We don’t usually hear about the bar shifting anymore, though. That happened more with the metal top squat, which we no longer make.

The TS has tabs of added polyurethane buildup at each end to accommodate bar-thickness disparities. Those with thick bars are able trim away the tabs with an exacto knife to achieve the proper fit.

Great unit… love it, whether I have good shoulders or bad. It affords super control, ability to locate the bar position on the back with the simple raising or lowering of the hands. An invaluable asset in maintaining true form, overcoming lost balance and locating muscle engagement.

Go, squat, grow… DD

Top Squat hurts my neck

I love the idea of your top squat, but it sort of hurts my neck. Is this expected?

I suspect you’re not using the unit correctly.  For comfort and capability to locate the bar on the shoulders it is much better than the plain bar version.

The bar should be placed on the back (several inches below neck line) and your hands gripping the handle should be about chin height as you face forward.

As you commence squatting you can move your hands upward to rotate the bar back (lower) on your back. This repositioning assists in attaining and maintaining correct squatting form, improves load positioning to affect more efficient muscle exertion and assures balance and stability.

Practice with Oly bar and a pair of 25- or 35-pound plates. Relax, be natural in form and practice a couple of times.

Have fun…. Godspeed… Dave

Top Squat size

Does the Top Squat fit into a gym locker?

Sorry, that answer is no.

Our first prototype was collapsible, but costly. Also, the solid version we settled on is SOLID and SURE.

The consequences of an unchecked handle popping out are real and scary… I was demonstrating the device for the first time at an Arnold Classic some years ago and the right handle did exactly that — popped out — and I proceeded to go down spinning like a missiled helicopter with 225 on my back.

Lots of laughs. I survived to tell the story.

The unit is worth carrying (balanced and grasp-able) in my opinion, like a gun to the target range or football to the field.

I absolutely love it and am in lots of good company…

Go… Godspeed… Dave

Top Squat

I ordered the Top Squat and have been using it for two workouts now. I really like the sense of balance it provides and the ease with which I can squat really low comfortably. My shoulders were a little tender after using it, but I surmise it is because I am accustomed to using a pad and will be comfortable as soon as my shoulders toughen up. My next move is to explore different stances. I did not get the pump and day-after soreness on the quads that I am accustomed to, but rather on the muscles right below the glutes. This time I used the olympic bar instead of the Smith Machine. I welcome any suggestions you may have.

Thanks for the good word. You’re in charge from here. It’s a great piece with nothing but super reports from all users.

Practice and focus and be sensible and stay with the Olympic bar. Let the bar move with the natural body action. I believe in a short time you’ll find your favorite and most likable and productive groove.

Use a natural hip-wide stance, toes slightly outward and squat to a thigh-parallel position, slightly deeper in time as you gain the capability.

Don’t let your legs push up as your upper body lags behind… famous back killer. They move together.

Let the handles move along with you as you move down. Rotate the top squat handles upward (the bar will move backward) . Great control— you’ll love it. Always warm up thighs and knees.

Wear good sneaks — not of the running variety. I like 15, 12, 10, 8, 6 rep pattern… light weight to heavier weight.

Keep bombing… dave

Questions about the top squat

I own two olympic bars and a smith bar. They all have slightly different circumferences and I do not know if any of them is 1 1/16″ in diameter. Do you happen to know if the Top Squat will fit on the Smith Machine bar? If it fits the Smith, will I be able to twist the bar on and off into the locked position to start and end a lift by just changing the elevation of the handle? Does the Top Squat place comparable strain on the neck and lower back as the Safety Squat?

I’m not sure if the top squat will be a perfect fit on any of these, but you can out the inner tabs (provided for fit modification) with an exacto to accommodate a thicker bar, or layer duct tape or inner tubing at appropriate locations for thinner bars.

It’s used on the Smith Machine at my gym with effectiveness, with individuals attaching or removing it easily.

There’s no strain on neck once you are familiar with unit… you’ll understand the action and placement throughout your first attentive workout, and there’s no strain on the lower back except the resistance of the weight used.

Key point: Let the handles move along with you, down and back up — don’t try to keep the handles firmly in place a the top position.

I absolutely love it and have had my best workouts using it — good form, pain free and heavy. I think three have been returned due to not fitting the bars, and another couple that the buyers reported it worked as advertised, but wasn’t suitable for their particular issues.

Lots of raves, a few school coaches bought 4 to 6 to 24.

Godspeed… Dave

Top Squat Questions

Does the Top Squat have the same kind of neck comfort as the Manta Ray?

I have used the Manta Ray and recognize its attributes. However, for my structure it alters the true squat movement, perching the bar too high on the back presenting bar-instability and a high center of gravity, which misplaces the load (resistance) on the thighs and lower back.

With the Top Squat, the dense polyurethane eliminates the acute pressure of the narrow bar and allows the lifter to position the bar where he finds it most advantageous and desirable.

Very comfortable… I love it.

Do the handles on the Top Squat dig or push down on to the shoulders like the Safety Squat bar?

I felt trapped in the Safety Squat Bar; that one didn’t work for me, which is why I designed mine. I was simply looking for a way to bring the hands forward, and the Top Squat does that perfectly.

Does the Top squat sit still on the upper back? Or do you have to move the handles up and down as you lower and rise while performing the squats?

The handles can remain fixed in one position, though there is great advantage in raising and lowering the handles as you squat to locate the bar in the most perfect position across the back for comfort or muscle action or balance.

The Top Squat takes very few sets and reps, plus some fun-focus to get to know and understand and exploit.

Built like a bridge to handle heavy, heavy weight. Your shoulders and neck will be relieved, your thighs most grateful.

Go… Godspeed… Dave

Will the top squat work for me?

Even though I do not mind holding the bar across my back (like Dave is doing, with fewer plates unfortunately) I am very concerned about my upper and lower back and the pressure on it. Would the top squat be a good choice for “back saving” or is it more of a comfort item for those who do not want to hold the bar on their shoulders?

The Top Squat was devised to save the shoulders from the unnatural and stressful positioning while holding the bar in place across the back. This is both painful and risky, and for some trainees impossible.

Upon completion of the unit and rigorously putting it to work, I found it is beneficial in other ways, namely relieving pressure on the lower back by encouraging a more correct and upright squat posture. The knees endure less load as well.

If I were you I’d be including more lower back work, as in light dead lifts and hyperextensions and light partial squats, as part of my long-life training program. They are comprehensive movements, cardio-respiratory and overall muscle builders, demanding on the system as you decide, can be wisely and progressively increased for a challenge, safe if your healthy, fulfilling and exhilarating.

This requires the decision to introduce them into your routine without fanfare, lightning and thunder… three sets of light deads at the end of any workout once a week and three sets of hypers once a week with a midsection workout. In time, months, you’ll be conditioned and ready to press on. By next summer you can be squatting and boasting (humbly) of a strong and vital back and leg structure. All the other muscle groups will be cheering as well.

All is good, thanks. God’s speed… DD

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