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The Top 5 Squat Rack Exercises for Every Routine

The Top 5 Squat Rack Exercises for Every Routine

Want the to know the top squat rack exercises to incorporate into your training? We've got you covered.

The squat rack is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment for any gym setting. It can be used for a variety of exercises and has built in safety features to assist you with lifting heavier weights as you get stronger.

The best squat racks in terms of quality and durability will be found in a commercial gym - for good reason, they'll surely take a beating. In our opinion though, a high quality squat rack is the most important piece of equipment for your home or garage gym as well. Even in small spaces, we highly recommend finding the best squat rack suitable to your space and size requirements so that you can give some heavy lifts a go!

In this blog post, we will outline the top five exercises that you can do with your squat rack. These exercises are all effective and challenging, so be prepared to work hard! If you are looking to get the most out of your squat rack, then be sure to give these exercises a try.

 

1. The Barbell Squat

The barbell squat is a classic strength-training exercise that works your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core. This can be considered a dangerous exercise by some people, but honestly, it should be the cornerstone of your strength training program. When performing weight barbell squats, you'll potentially see strength improvements for your whole body.

Start by setting the barbell on your rack at just about shoulder height. Having the safeties in the right position will get your started off to a successful set. Set the bar too low, and you'll be compromising your position to re-rack the barbell. Set the safeties too high, and you might have to get on your tip-toes to re-rack, another bad position.

Place the barbell across your shoulders / upper back and standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift the barbell up off of the safeties and take a step back, keeping your core braced the entire time. Then, lower yourself down into a squatting position, making sure to keep your chest up and your core and glutes tight.

Once you reach the bottom of the squat, drive back up to the starting position, squeezing your glutes to get you up from the bottom. When performing the barbell squat, be sure to use a weight that challenges you but does not cause you to sacrifice form. You always want to make sure the spotter arms of your rack are properly positioned to catch the bar during a failed attempt.

When performed with weight, the squat is an excellent exercise for building strength. Adding the barbell squat to your exercise routine will put you in a first class seat on the gain train! It's that great of a movement. Frequently squatting will help the strength and fitness level of your entire body. 

There are many kinds of barbell squats too. Hi bar, low bar, front squats, smith machine squats and more. You can interchange these movements to target different areas of your legs! 

2. The Bench Press

The bench press is one of the most popular exercises in the world, and it's no wonder why. This exercise is a great way to build upper body strength and can be performed in a variety of ways.

The key to performing the bench press safely is to use proper form. First, lie down on the weight bench with your feet flat on the floor and your back pressed firmly against the bench. Next, grip the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and position it above your chest. Once you have the barbell in place, slowly lower it towards your chest. Then, press the barbell back up to its starting position.

Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the entire exercise, and always use a spotter when lifting heavy weights. With proper form and technique, the bench press can be a great addition to any workout routine.

You will need a weight bench in addition to your squat rack to do bench presses properly. A flat bench is just fine, but if you have an adjustable bench, you'll unlock even more variety.

Set the back pad of adjustable bench anywhere from 15-deg to 80-deg to perform and incline bench press. This movement will work more of your upper chest muscles and pec minor. You won't be as strong here as you are on flat bench, so remember to drop to lighter weights to start.

If your bench has a decline angle, you can do this focus the work on the larger, pec major muscle. On decline bench press, you may feel awkward at first. However, you should be pretty close to the same strength as your flat bench! 

3. The Barbell Lunge

The barbell lunge is another great exercise for developing lower body strength and power.

To perform the lunge, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell across your shoulders. Then, take a large step forward with one leg and lower your body down into a lunge position, keeping your front knee over your front ankle. From here, push back up to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

To change up the stimulus, there are many different styles of barbell lunge you can do. From the same starting position, you can do a reverse lunge, but stepping backwards instead of forwards. You can also do both normal lunges and reverse lunges with a front rack of the barbell. A real challenger if you have space, is walking barbell lunges! 

The barbell lunge is one of the most effective movements for building lower body strength. It taxes all of the major lower body muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

If you’re looking to improve your lower body strength, be sure to add the barbell lunge to your workout routine!

4. Overhead Press

The overhead press is a weightlifting move that involves pressing a barbell overhead. The exercise can be performed with a variety of grips, but the most common is the shoulder-width grip. To execute the overhead press, the lifter begins in a standing position with the barbell resting on the shoulders. The hands are positioned just outside of shoulder width, and the feet are placed hip-width apart. From this position, the lifter presses the barbell overhead, extending the arms until they are fully locked out. The barbell is then brought back to the starting position and repeat for desired number of repetitions.

Overhead pressing is an effective exercise for developing strength and muscle mass in the shoulders, chest, and triceps. It can be performed either standing or sitting to provide a different stimulus. As you get stronger, or need more variation we recommend looking into military press and push press movements as well. If you're new to the exercise, it's important to start light and focus on proper form before adding weight. With practice, you'll be well on your way to mastering the overhead press.

 

5. Rack Pulls

The rack pull is a great exercise for building strength and size in your posterior chain - the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. It's a compound movement that requires a bit of setup, but it's well worth the effort and is a must-do when you have a squat rack available to you.

Think of the rack pull as a deadlift with a shorter range of motion. First, set the safety pins at the desired height - just below the knew. Next, load the barbell and position it on the pins. Finally, simply pull the loaded barbell up until your hips are fully extended.

The rack pull is an extremely effective exercise, but it's also important to be safe. Make sure you have your core engaged, your glutes are being squeezed and you perform a hip hinge instead of putting all of the pressure on your lower back.

BONUS: Pull Ups / Chin Ups

If you have a traditional squat rack or power rack, chances are you have a pullup bar or some type of pullup grips built-in. If this is you, keep reading! If you just have squat stands, we're sorry!

Pull ups and chin ups are two of the most popular upper body exercises. Both exercises work the muscles in the back, shoulders, and arms, but there are some key differences between the two. Pull ups are performed with an overhand grip, meaning that the palms are facing away from the body. Chin ups, on the other hand, are performed with an underhand grip, with the palms facing towards the body. As a result, chin ups tend to be easier than pull ups, as they place less stress on the muscles. However, both exercises are excellent for building strength and definition in the upper body.

Important Squat Rack Features

Here's some quick info on the most important squat rack features. We find this information necessary to discuss if you're in the process of looking for a new rack.

The best squat racks will come with an adjustable way to hold your barbell on the front of the squat rack or inside the power cage. These are usually called j-cups but go by many names. You should be able to set the j-cups to different heights to help facilitate your starting position for different exercises.

Your squat rack should also come with safety pins that adjusted to the bottom of the movement you're performing. This will allow you to have a catch for the bar if you don't have a friend to spot you. Safety pins, safety bars, or spotter arms (all the same thing essentially) are especially important when lifting alone, or when loading up with weight plates towards the top end of your strength range. You'd definitely rather be safe than sorry and reduce your risk of injury when possible.

A good squat rack has a weight capacity that is nowhere near the max weight you'll be lifting on it. If you squat 300lbs, having a rack with a 400lb capacity doesn't give you much room to grow. You'll want to have something that can handle 750lbs at a minimum, even if you never get close to that strong. A commercial squat rack can have a weight capacity of over 1500lbs!

Conclusion

The squat rack is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the gym, and it's easy to see why. There are endless ways to use it, but these five exercises are the best ways to make use of your squat rack. The squat rack is great for heavy loads and big lifts, and it's a great value for your money.

 

  1. Barbell Squat
  2. Bench Press
  3. Barbell Lunges
  4. Overhead Press
  5. Rack Pulls
  6. BONUS: Pull Ups/Chin Ups

The barbell squat is a great exercise for developing leg strength and whole body conditioning. The bench press is a great exercise for developing chest and upper-body strength. The barbell lunge is a great exercise for developing balance and coordination and lower body strength. The overhead press is a great exercise for developing shoulder strength. The rack pull is a great exercise for developing posterior chain and back strength, and the Pull Up/Chin Up is a great exercise for developing upper-body strength. These five exercises are the best ways to make use of your squat rack. Thanks for reading!

Continued Reading

Want to learn more about squat racks, or see squat racks available for sale? Check out these resources:

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