The gym, or more specifically, the strength training equipment at the gym, can be a little intimidating. Knowing how to use this equipment isn’t always straightforward compared to the aerobic machines like treadmills and stationary bikes. How are adjustments made? What’s the right technique?
Among the more intimidating equipment are squat racks. You probably don’t know squat about these (get it?). So let us tell you: Squat racks are large metal stands used for squat-related exercises that help keep users safe. Here’s some useful information about squat racks that will help us better understand their purpose and how to use them effectively, as well as instructions on back squat technique.
All right, so let’s get ready to ‘rack’ ‘n roll, and drop it like it’s squat. (And on that note, we’re officially out of squat rack puns.)
What is a squat rack?
The squat rack, as we might assume, is used primarily for free-weight squats. Free-weights aren’t attached to any device or cable system, allowing for a full range of motion without restrictions. The free-weights used in the squat rack include weighted plates, which are added to a barbell. Different variations of free-weight squats can be done in the squat rack, but the most common is the back squat. This exercise targets the major muscle groups of the lower body including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the erector spinae of the lower back.
How to set up a squat rack
Most squat racks have components that are adjustable to meet our preferences. Be careful not to confuse squat racks with smith machines. The smith machine looks similar to a squat rack, but it has a barbell attached to rails that allow it to slide up and down. This is used primarily for fixed-weight squats, not free-weight squats. They’re more suitable for people with injuries or who intend to isolate specific muscle groups.
How to use a squat rack
After the squat rack is adjusted and an appropriate weight is added to the barbell, it’s time to begin the back squat. If this is your first time performing the back squat, start with only the barbell.