Introducing the Squat Rack

If you’re new to the gym, you might not recognise the squat rack. Or if you do, you might feel too intimidated to use it (it’s a sizable piece of equipment!)

However, Beckwith Health Club is a gym for everyone – whether you’re a beginner or a professional lifter, the squat rack is for you. 

Squat racks are also much safer when you’re doing weighted exercises, for two reasons. Firstly, there are security bars which will catch the weight if you drop the bar. Secondly, you can load the bar at any level, which means you won’t need to lift a heavy weight over your head from the ground, which is dangerous.

Check out some of our top tips and exercises for the squat rack below!

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Barbell Low Squat

This is one of the most common exercises using a squat rack. If you’re new to it, start with a small weight before gradually increasing the load every couple of weeks. This is because bad form can quickly lead to injury, and as a newcomer, you might need more time to nail your form down. 

To do a barbell low squat:

  • Set the barbell on the squat rack at approximately chin height. Place your hands on the bar in an overhand grip, about shoulder width apart, stand up straight, and lift the bar onto your back just below your shoulders. 
  • Take a small step back and plant your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your gaze straight and bend your knees, hinging at the hips. Bend until your thighs are parallel to the floor if you can, and don’t curve your back. Extend your legs to get back to your starting position, and repeat for 8-10 reps.
  • When you’re done, step forward to the rack and replace the bar.

Barbell Forward Lunge

Step up your lunge game with this exercise. Using a squat rack for your forward lunges allows you to get used to adding weight, with a barbell, to your lunge in a safe and well-supported environment. 

Here’s how to do a barbell forward lunge, courtesy of Sweat:

  • Set the barbell on the squat rack at approximately chin height. Position yourself underneath the bar. Place both hands on the bar in an overhand grip (palms facing away from your body), slightly wider than your shoulders. Standing underneath the barbell with it resting on your collarbone, bring your elbows forward and elevate them to approximately shoulder height, then stand up tall and release the barbell from the squat rack. 
  • Take a small step away and plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Transition into a split stance with your left foot forward and right foot back. This is your starting position.
  • Inhale. Bend both knees to approximately 90 degrees. When done correctly, your front knee will be aligned with your ankle and your back knee will be hovering just off the floor.
  • Exhale. Extend both knees to return to the starting position. Complete half of the specified number of repetitions on the same side before completing the remaining repetitions on the other side. Return the bar to a secure position on the squat rack.

Floor Press

For something a bit different… here’s how thanks to Muscle & Fitness!

  • Lower the safety blocks or poles on the squat rack, or take them out completely depending on the type of rack and the amount of clearance from the floor that they can give. 
  • Then, lie down and use the squat rack in a similar way to how you would with the bench press. Concentrate on the powerlifting motion and using good technique. 
  • The highest load should be felt at the top of the lift. Your elbows should be flat on the ground before each lift.

Squat Rack Overhead Press

You might not think to use the squat rack for an overhead press, but again, if you’re planning on using heavier weights, the squat rack will guide you to your goals safely.

Here’s how to do it from HyGym:

  • ​​Set the bar on the squat rack at chest height and load the bar with your weights
  • Step under the bar and grip it with your palms facing forward
  • Place the bar just under your neck on top of the clavicle and re-adjust your grip so that the bar is in your palms (not your fingers)
  • Lift the bar up over your head, ensuring the bar is aligned with the shoulder and your hips
  • Slowly lower the bar to the top of your collarbone
  • When you’ve completed your set, place the bar back on the rack.

Need a Hand?

If you’d like to start using Beckwith’s squat racks but you’re not exactly sure how to in practice, just ask the team!

They’d be happy to demonstrate how to set up the squat rack, and guide you through some of the most common exercises. 

If you’d prefer a longer one-on-one session, book in with one of our excellent PTs here!