9 Ways To Use A Squat Rack
9 Ways To Use A Squat Rack
Squats are one of the most important exercises you can do.
One of your heaviest lifts, they’re the key to building strength and muscle mass.
And if you’re looking to train at home, then getting a squat rack is going to be one of the best decisions you ever made.
Not just for working on your squats but you can get a full body workout with just a rack, bench and a few weights.
They’re heavy-duty, versatile and great for hitting several muscle groups at once. So, not only are you getting all your compound exercises in, you’re also getting more out of the time you spend training.
Having a rack is particularly important for being able to train safely. Not only do they allow you to get a loaded bar safely onto your shoulders, but they’ll stop the bar from falling on you if you fail or drop the bar – both of which are vital for being able to do squats safely.
But as you start to train with a squat rack more regularly, you’ll realise they can help with so many different types of exercises. And the more you mix up your standard, bread and butter type exercises, the stronger you’ll get. Because by working the same muscles regularly in a variety of ways, you maintain the need for your body to grow and adapt – which is the key to getting stronger.
Below we go through our full body workout using our Adjustable Weight Bench and Squat Rack Kit.
We’re mainly using a barbell but there are a few variants you can do with dumbbells too – which are really important for keeping a check on any imbalances you have going on in your body.
And as you start to build out your home gym, you can start working in some speciality bars too such as an EZ Curl Bar or a Swiss Bar – which are both great for easing any strain on your wrists and shoulders.
Full Body Squat Rack Workout
Squat racks in general will give you a really good workout. However, an adjustable squat rack is going to give you so many more options, which can be really handy when you’re working out at home or just have a limited amount of space.
And because this set comes with an adjustable weight bench as well, there are even more options. So, you can include variants such as incline and decline bench presses, as well as reverse flyes and weight bench lateral flyes.
We’ve picked out our favourite exercises that will give you will help you build strength as well as give you an all-round workout.
Exercises using a squat rack
1 - Back squats
These are basically classic squats where the barbell is positioned at the bottom of your shoulders. This puts the weight directly over your posterior chain. They are great for working your quads, as well as your hamstrings, glutes, core and lower back.
Expert tip: keep your toes pointed out slightly with your feet a little wider than hip width apart. Doing this will help you increase the depth of your squat.
2 - Shoulder press
Weight benches are designed to support you while you train, helping you to keep your posture and guide your movements. By doing shoulder presses on a weight bench, your upper body needs to work harder, because you haven’t got the extra push and momentum you would normally get from doing them standing up.
Expert tip: bring the barbell down to around ear height before pushing back up. Remember not to lock your elbows when you reach the top of the exercise.
3 - Flat bench press
Great for targeting both your pecs and your triceps, flat bench presses will give you the weight you need to build muscle and get stronger. Set the spotter bars so they are just above your chest and make sure the bar rests are low enough for you to comfortably unrack the bar to get started.
Expert tip: the bar path for doing bench presses isn’t straight. If you imagine watching the bar from the side, it should go from above your eyeline, down to the bottom of your chest.
Another point to remember when doing bench presses is to keep your elbows tucked in slightly. Pushing your shoulders too far back can put you at risk of injury.
4 - Barbell lunges
Lunges don’t require a high level of hip flexibility to be able to get to full depth, which makes them great for doing more intense levels of glute, hamstring and quad work. As well as doing standard lunges, you can also use the weight bench to do Bulgarian split squats which are great for building strength as well as giving you a challenging workout.
Expert tip: lunges don’t just work one leg, they work both. However, the muscles worked in each leg are slightly different depending which one is in front and which one is behind. Practise lunging with just the barbell at first to make sure you get a feel for doing them with a weight bar. Remember to engage your core to help keep you steady.
5 - Bicep curls
One of the best and most simple exercises you can do to build your arms. By using a barbell, you can take on a larger amount of weight so these are great for building muscle mass.
Expert tip: you can vary your bicep curls by going just from full extension to half extension, then back down; then from half extension to full contraction, back to halfway.
6 - Dips
Our adjustable squat rack kit can be slid all the way in to form a dip station. Dips are great for working your chest, arms and core, as well as your wrists and forearms.
Expert tip: vary your dip stance to target both your chest and your triceps, to get a great upper body workout.
7 - Hip lifts
Hip lifts are one of the best ways to target your glutes, as well as your hamstrings and lower back. You want to sit with the weight bench behind you so the edge is near the middle of your back. Bring your knees in and then squeeze your glutes as you lift up.
Expert tip: Use a Barbell Squat Pad to help protect your hips while using a loaded bar.
8 - Barbell rows
Barbell rows are a great way to work your upper back and you can vary your grip to help focus either your biceps or triceps.
Expert tip: start with the bar on the spotters and squat down so that your back is as close to parallel to the floor, while keeping your spine straight. Then row the bar towards the bottom half of your abs, squeezing your shoulders together before releasing back down.
You can also do this exercise using a pair of Dumbbells which will help break down any asymmetries.
9 - Box squats
Box squats are a great way to build up strength in your posterior chain. They also help you push your weight back so you can gradually improve your squat form.
Expert tip: bring the weight bench into the squat rack space and have it completely flat to make sure it stays balanced. Squat down and use the bench for support but don’t let your back flex or relax, you want to maintain your form the whole time. Pause and then slowly push back up to start again.
How often should I increase weights on squats
Weight load depends on how new you are to training, your current ability and what your goals are.
Essentially, to get stronger, you want to gradually keep increasing the weight load by working through the build/endurance cycle for each level.
This is a case of taking it up a notch to the point where you can do around five reps max. Then keep increasing the reps until you can do around 12 reps with the same weight load. Then take it up again and continue training back at five rep max.
We talk about this in much more detail in our Why Am I Not Getting Stronger feature.