A squat rack is a piece of gym equipment which is adjustable in height and holds an Olympic bar so it can be used to perform squats. The technique is not so straightforward and requires a lot of practice before the movement can be performed safely and effectively. Fortunately we have provided guidance on how the squat technique can be executed.
If executed with poor form this can cause injury especially to your lower back and knees, therefore we recommend starting with just the bar until you get use to the movement. When done correctly the benefits to the primary targeted muscles being the quads and glutes are massive.
Other than building your quads and glutes, there are other squat rack benefits. It actually strengthens your core and you’ll notice this when you’re lifting a heavier weight. Your core muscles help to keep your body upright and prevent you from tumbling forward! That being said, it goes hand in hand, strengthening your core will also help with your squat technique.
Furthermore, many sports require you to have good explosive power which mainly comes from your legs and glutes. Squatting will help you acquire that explosive power if done effectively.
What Else It Can Be Used For?
With Olympic weight benches you bench using an Olympic bar, with dumbbell or adjustable weight benches you bench using dumbbells but if you place a squat rack above a dumbbell weight bench it also allows you to bench with an Olympic bar.
You may be able to get away with using dumbbells to bench with an Olympic weight bench such as the Marcy Diamond Elite but the chances are the dumbbells may come into contact with the fixed rack even more so if you’re tall.
Combining a squat rack with a dumbbell weight bench really gives you a lot more options with the number of workouts you can do. One weight bench which already does come equipped with a removable squat rack is the Gold’s Gym XRS 20.
If you place a calf block near the squat stand then you can also effectively work your calves. This would actually work on your gastrocnemius muscle, whereas a seated calf raise machine focuses more on your soleus muscle but both together will give you overall growth of your calves.
Different Types Of Squat Racks
There are a few different types of squat racks, although there’s no official name for the different types of squat racks, they’re usually just headed under one category as squat rack/stand but there are some noticeable differences between the different types of squat racks which we will point out. The most common types are:
This comes as 2 separate squat stands which is not connected together, this is completely freestanding and the height can be adjusted to accommodate different heights. One of the more popular models is the Valor Fitness BD-9, the price is fairly competitive.
- Very light and portable.
- Takes up a lot less space than other squat racks.
- The squat stands can be placed closer to accommodate shorter bars that are 5 foot or 6 foot.
- Need to add weight plates on the storage peg of each squat stand to maintain stability.
- No place to store additional weight plates.
Squat rack cage
Squat rack cages tend to be very heavy duty and durable, the safety mechanism is probably one of the best you would get when working out. The Powerline PPR200X is one of the best rated squat rack cages.
- Safety spotters will prevent accidents as long as it’s placed correctly.
- Gives you a lot more confidence to lift heavier.
- Takes up a lot of space.
- More expensive than other squat racks.
Standard squat rack
This type of squat rack is probably what comes to mind for most people, doesn’t take up as much room as a squat rack cage but also the safety spotters are not as advanced as the squat rack cage. The Valor Athletics BD-6 model is one of the higher rated models.
- There is usually quite a few storage pegs to store additional weight plates.
- Strong and sturdy, wouldn’t require weight plates to hold it down like the squat stands would.
- Won’t work as well for benching as the squat stands and cage would.
- Can also be quite expensive.
Some people may not be familiar with the term “muscle shock” but it’s actually really important to shock your muscles in order to progress and stimulate growth. If you keep doing the same exercise for a particular muscle group such as dumbbell bench press, then eventually you would hit a plateau.
By shocking your muscles you will continue to progress and prevent yourself from hitting a plateau. One effective way of doing this is to change your exercise for that muscle group, this way your muscles won’t get use to the same movement and stop developing.
Example – If you bench press using dumbbells, you should only do this for around 6 weeks maximum. Then you should switch onto benching with an Olympic bar, again for around 6 weeks. Switch back to benching with dumbbells then you will notice that you’ve probably gotten stronger.
This process can be repeated with any muscle group, although you should have at least 3 exercises you can switch between for every muscle group in order to gain the most out of your workouts and prevent yourself from hitting a plateau.
To find out the meaning of plateau and other ways to shock your muscles, check out this article.