I've decided to start weightlifting using the Starting Strength program.

Image of a how to hold a barbell in a back squat

The above image shows the barbell position for doing a back squat (the wrists are not in the correct position).

I am unable to to get my arms in that position. With a narrow grip my hands are in front of my shoulders. To get my hands behind my shoulders I need to widen my grip to the point where I'm touching the weights on a 7' bar.

What stretches can I do to increase my flexibility so I can hold the bar correctly?

  • 1
    If you can't grab the bar in a back squat, be super careful with bench and overhead press. You might need to do some remedial work before working with a barbell. Dec 11, 2013 at 23:55
  • 2
    Point of contention: that image shows an incorrect grip on the bar according to the SS book. Specifically, the wrists should be straight, as in this image. (Only the rightmost figure is doing a low-bar back squat; the other two are a front squat and a high-bar back squat.) Dec 12, 2013 at 0:20
  • I agree with dave. Those wrists are not in the correct position. This video explains it the best.
    – user4644
    Dec 12, 2013 at 4:10

2 Answers 2


I had the same problem.

Make sure you stretch, http://stronglifts.com/shoulders-dislocations/ and keep at it. It will gradually improve.

Also checkout Rips video on the grip. http://www.allthingsgym.com/mark-rippetoe-on-the-squat-bar-position/

  • 1
    barbell bench press right to the chest (eventually) will probably give you enough flexibility to hold the bar for a back-squat.
    – Chris
    Dec 16, 2013 at 18:28

Strengthen the upper back as well. The Trapezius, rhomboids and posterior deltoid all help hold the shoulders back. You could stretch all day and if these muscles are weak the brain will continually tell the muscles of the chest to stay tight to protect your shoulders.

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