Squatting is one of the exercises any fitness enthusiast usually include in their workout routine. There are different squat variations and modifications you can do with this movement. But, if you’re into weightlifting, a squat is more than lowering your body with a dumbbell in each hand. It entails lifting a barbell while squatting.
Sounds hard, right? It is, but it could be bearable to do if you use a squat rack or power rack to position the barbell in place. Actually, all squats done with weights should have this equipment support for your own safety. If you’re a beginner in lifting weights, performing your workouts without the proper equipment and instructions to make the most out of your strength training could be dangerous.
What The Squat Rack Offers
Safety during workouts is the primary priority of squat racks and power racks. They are designed to be built with sturdy material for re-racking the lifted barbell. This heavy-duty piece of equipment allows you to bring the loaded bar safely on your shoulders while preventing the weights from falling on you when you abort a lift.
Squat rack and power rack also offer versatility, giving you numerous exercise options to perform with the equipment. You need to add a weight bench with your rack, and you’ll be able to optimize the use of your rack.
If you’re building your own home gym, a squat rack will not take as much space as a power rack would. Squat racks are usually made with 2 steady support on each side and can be easily placed in a limited space. You can still enjoy the benefits of building your muscles and improving your strength without compromise.
Using a Squat Rack
Don’t get fixated on the word “squat” when using this kind of exercise rack, as it can provide you with support for other forms of exercise. Yes, squatting is one of the powerful compound exercises you can do to engage the largest muscle groups in one movement effectively. If you’re weightlifting, it can do so much to train your body and muscle to be strong. But you can make the most out of the equipment when you use a squat rack for a full-body workout.
You can perform different squat variations with a squat rack, from basic to a progressive form of squat exercises.
Set the upper racking mechanism to place the bar about your shoulder height on each side. If you have a clear picture of how low you want to go in your squats, place the safety racks approximately an inch below the lowest point down to where you want to go. It’s important not to skip these first two steps to ensure your safety while lifting. Next, put the bar on the upper racking mechanism. Choose the suitable weight and place an equal amount of weight on each side. Secure the plates by using a collar. Position the barbell at the bottom of your shoulder to put the weight directly to your posterior chain. The bar must be resting on your back. Position your feet slightly pointed out with your feet a bit wider than hip-width apart and chest out.
To start the movement, send your hips down in a sitting position by bending your knees. Keep your buttocks outward, and avoid your knees from forwarding. Once your thighs are parallel with the ground, hold the position for a while before you stand and return to the initial position. Make sure the load on the barbell is not too heavy for you to bear to avoid accidents.
If you don’t have strong knees, the box squat will be your “go-to” squat exercise. You will need a plyometric box or any suitable alternative for this type of training. Set the barbell height accordingly. It should be lower than your shoulder. Next, set up the box by placing it a couple of feet behind the barbell. In doing so, make sure you have enough space to take few steps backwards as you unrack the barbell. The height of the seat should also keep your knees to a 90-degree angle. Sit on the box and rest the bar on the muscles on your upper back. Keep your stance with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage your core, un-rack the barbell, stand up and step inches away from the box. Hold the position before returning to the starting position.
Other Exercises Using Squat Racks
Squat racks are not exclusive to squat exercises only. You can try these exercises with your equipment to train other muscle groups.
Flat Bench Press
This movement works on your pecs and triceps. It helps in building strong muscles. To effectively perform this workout, use a squat rack to hold the barbell just about above your chest but at a comfortable height for you to unrack the bar. When doing a flat bench press, push your shoulders far back while keeping your elbows slightly tucked to prevent injuries.
This workout works intensely on your glute, hamstring and quads. This exercise doesn’t demand high hip flexibility. Engage your core steadily while doing this movement. When making lunges, make sure you get equal reps on each leg.
Use a Squat Rack Safely
Now you know how to use a squat rack and have numerous options of training workouts to do with it at the gym or home; you also have to note the ways to maintain the safety of use. Here are the following things you should check before you use a squat rack.
Mind the Weight
Load the bar you will be using with the right amount of weight that you can lift. Yes, you want to challenge yourself by testing your progress but make sure you do it gradually and equally. Double-check the amount of weight you put on each side to maintain a balance.
Mind the Height
for any workout you set for your squat rack, make sure you set it in a comfortable height for you to be able to reach and grab the bars conveniently.
Keep the Balance
In weightlifting, stability is one of the keys to executing movements properly. The weight plates must be equally distributed to avoid tipping off on one side.