How to Use a Squat Rack – Step By Step Guide


Squats help you build the foundation of your body, which are your legs and back. Many professional and athletes agree that there is no decent substitute for squatting. Smith squats and bench press are cool, but they do not work the entire lower body the way squats do. Now, like any other heavy weight exercise, squats should be performed the right way. A wrong move can bring many unpleasant consequences.

Squat racks are meant to minimize the possible hazards of squatting. In this article, we will review how to use a squat rack properly. We have tried to compile the tips and advices from the best fitness trainers. There are many precious knowledge nuggets scattered around the web, and we did our best to gather them all for you.

How to Set up a Squat Rack Properly?

how to use the squat rack

1) If you are using the rack for the first time, make sure it can handle the weight plates. You can slightly abuse it first — For instance, let the loaded barbell fall on the spotters from about 10 inches and see how it handles it. Keep in mind that the squat rack is meant to keep you safe, so it should be able to handle a lot of weight, way more than you are lifting.

This step is also important for your mind. Many fitness trainers agree that you will more likely dare to lift more weight if you are sure that you are covered in case of failure. In fitness, feeling safe is as important as being safe.

2) Set up the J-Hooks on a height that is right for you. Usually, people set it up a couple of inches below their shoulder level. Don’t place it too low so you can easily step out. Now, if you have to tiptoe to get the bar out of the rack, it means that you’ve placed the hooks too high.

Why is this important? First, you should not tiptoe at any point of the exercise because it affects your balance. Second, you might be too exhausted to tiptoe and that might cause you to miss one of the hooks.

3) Make sure that the J-hooks are aligned – some squat racks have markings on the holes for reference. Gun racks are a bit harder to use, so you might as well avoid those if you’re a beginner.

4) It’s time to talk about safety. If you’re a beginner, we totally recommend you using a power rack or power cage. Power cages provide you with more protection than a squat stand.

5) Any normal power rack comes with safety pins or bar catches (looks like there are a million of ways to call those). You need to adjust them a couple of inches below your lowest squat position. You can do an air squat to determine it. This way when you go full squat, the bar won’t touch the safety pins, but if you fall or lose balance, they will prevent it from pinning you to the ground.

You can also count on those safety pins if you got to bail. Just let go the bar and stand up. Even if you have the incorrect form and begin to fall down forward, the safety pins will save you. All of that is possible only if the pins are high enough to catch you.

6) When you bring the barbell back in, you push the bar against the J-hooks and then down. Don’t try to land it one side at a time. Instead, push the bar against the cage and then move it down until it lies safely on both hooks at the same time.

Things Needed

  • Squat Rack – We recommend a power cage or a squat rack with at least one full frame (which is often a pull-up bar).Nevertheless, a squat rack with “A” frame will get the job done too, as long as you don’t step too far away from it.
  • Olympic weightlifting bar
  • Weights

I’m not the fittest person in the world. The gym is somewhere I regularly frequent, but I’m no bodybuilder. When I first saw a squat rack, I was confused about how to use a squat rack.

Fortunately, the gym is full of people who know way more than I do. Finally, I saw someone use it and was amazed by how it assisted them in their work out.

Are you curious about how to use a squat rack? Before you purchase one or use one at the gym, you need to know how to use a squat rack.

A squat rack is a tool that helps someone looking to lift weights, perform short lifts. It’s usually a metal stand that supports a barbell and various size weights. In case you don’t have one we got you covered! Read our DIY tutorial on building a squat rack.

To use it, place a barbell with or without weights on the rack and position yourself underneath it. Make sure your shoulders are underneath the barbell and go into a squatting area by standing up then squatting down. This position will help you to determine how high or low you should put your weights.

Well, now that you are familiar with one way to use a squat rack, did you know that there are others? Take a look at these five ways to use a squat rack.

5 Ways to Use a Squat Rack

If there’s one thing to like about a squat rack, it’s the versatility. You can do a broad assortment of exercises and create a great combination of workouts with this one machine. To get the most of your experience, learn a few ways to use a squat rack.

1. Squat

This one sounds a bit obvious, but the most well-known use for a squat rack is to do a squat. You will go into a crouching position with knees bent, and have your butt thrust out towards the heels. Still need help? For better help check our detailed guide on how to squat properly.

Or video guide below:

2. Deadlift

The next way to use a squat rack is to do a deadlift. This exercise is when you use a bar or a loaded barbell, lift it from the ground to hip level then lower it back down to the ground.Proper form is important, so here’s a visual to help:

3. Standing Overhead Press

Want to work your shoulders? Then try a standing overhead press. You will place the barbell on your collar bone, lift the bar over your head with your arms locked, and then lower it back down to the collarbone/chest area.You might already know how to do an overhead press, but here’s how to utilize a squat rack while performing this exercise.

4. Barbell Lunges

To put that core to work, try barbell lunges. For this exercise, you’ll place the barbell on the back of your shoulders, step forward with one leg while keeping your torso upright, then go back to do the other leg.Sometimes it’s hard to visualize, and we want you to use proper form, so here’s a personal trainer to show you how it’s done:

5. Barbell Bent-Over Row

To work out your back, try a barbell bent-over row. This final one will have you holding the barbell while you bend at the waist, lift it while you keep the elbows in, squeeze the back muscles, then bring the barbell back down.In case you don’t get it, here’s Anton to show you:

Is a Squat Rack for You?

Now that you know different ways to use a squat rack, are you going to use one at your local gym? You can also create a home gym with a squat rack, but do you know where to get one?

If you are looking to get a squat rack of your own, check this one out for a high-quality version. Weightlifting is great for muscle gain as well as weight loss, so learning how to use a squat rack can be helpful no matter where you are on your health and fitness journey.

Did learning how to use a squat rack help you? Let us know in the comments below how you use a squat rack!

Here are a Couple of Things to Keep in Mind

  • Squat racks are not for curls or upright rows.
  • Do not squat with weights without a spotter, whether it’s another person or a properly configured squat rack.
  • Most accidents occur during the racking and unracking process. Make sure you pay attention to those, and ideally have someone to spot you.

In Conclusion

There are many reasons why squatting is good for you: the exercise builds muscle in your entire body, enhances your mobility and balance, helps you with real-life activities, boosts your overall sports performance, and helps with waste removal. Isn’t that amazing?

Yeah, power squats might seem like a dangerous exercise, but they are not if you are following all the safety guidelines. It takes only a couple of minutes to learn how to use a squat rack, and hopefully we have covered everything you need to know in this article.

We hope that you found this tutorial helpful. What is your next fitness goal?

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