The power rack, otherwise known as the squat rack, is one of the biggest and most intimidating equipment in the gym. Even though its intimidating, its very popular, because it allows its users to safely lift heavy loads.
Since you are working the largest and strongest muscles in the body when you perform a squat, the quadriceps and hamstrings, you will need heavier weights to stress the muscle. Lifting heavier weights can get dangerous. You can lift heavier weights without a squat rack but you will need a spotter to ensure you don’t get hurt. If you don’t usually workout with a partner, it can be difficult to pin down a spotter. What you need is a method that will allow you to lift heavier weights without the help of another. The power rack delivers just that.
Maybe you’ve wanted to know how to use the power rack for squats to get massive legs but you were just too scared to try it. This article will help you feel confident the next time you visit the gym to take advantage of those heavy weights by giving you the knowledge you need to use it the correct and safe way.
What You Will Need
- Power rack.
- Weightlifting bar and weights.
- Supportive shoes.
- Some may opt for a back belt for added.
Step 1- Adjust the Spotter Arms
The first step to using a power rack is to adjust the spotter arms to the proper height for your body. The spotter arms are the adjustable bars at the right and left that will catch the barbell should you lose strength and fall to the ground.
In order to figure out your desired height, you will want to perform a squat with the barbell with no added weight. The spotter arms should be placed just under where the barbell hits when you are in your lowest squatting point.
To adjust the spotter arms all you need to do is take out the locking pin in the safety pin, then take out the safety pin. Next you will turn the arm bar 90 degrees and pull the arm out of the power rack frame. This video below shows exactly what this looks like:
[Video] Spotting arms
Step 2- Perfect Your Squat
Before you load a massive amount of weight onto your back and try to squat, you should first have perfect squatting technique. A good way to make sure that you are using proper form while squatting is to do a few in front of a mirror and check all your squatting points for correct form.
To perform a squat the correct way there are a few things to keep in mind. Your feet should be placed shoulder width apart and your toes should be pointing slightly outward.
With your chest up and your eyes looking straight ahead, hinge at the waist and the knees and lower your butt down and behind you. When your hips are a little below the knees, stop and return to standing position.
Make sure not to arch your lower back during the squat and keep your weight in your heels, not your toes. Your quads should be engaged when you lower, your glutes should be engaged as you raise, and your core should be strong throughout.
This video will show the proper squatting technique:
[Video] How to perform the squat
Step 3- Find Your Weight
When first starting out with the power rack, you don’t want to begin with too much weight. First add on a little until you feel comfortable with your form, then you can build your squatting weight from there.
A good starting weight for a squat is about a half of your body weight. For example, a person weighing 160 pounds can begin squatting 80 pounds. A standard barbell weighs 45 pounds. In order to be squatting 80 pounds you would need to add 17.5 pounds on each side of the barbell.
When you feel like you can easily squat this weight with proper form, you can now begin to add weight incrementally to help increase your strength. Experts suggest that you increase the weight by 10%. For this amount you would be increasing your weight by 8-10 pounds at a time.
Step 4- Position Your Barbell
Depending on the type of squat you are doing, there are two positions that you can place the barbell.
If you are going to be doing front squats, or squats that focus on the quads and upper back, you will want to place your barbell in front of your shoulders, right at the collarbone. You will be holding the bar with your hands either in an undergrip in line with your shoulders or cross them over the bar in an “X” position.
If you are going to be doing back squats, or squats that focus on the glutes and lower back, you will want to place your barbell on your upper back, across the shoulder blades, holding the bar with both hands at the sides of your shoulders.
You should never have the bar across the neck because this is dangerous to the spine.
Step 5- Squatting
Ok, so now you have perfect squatting form, you have your barbell loaded and positioned properly. Now it’s time to actually do what you came here to do, squat.
When completing the squat, remember your proper form. Don’t rush through your set. Complete every squat slow and methodically. A slower squat will work more muscles harder than a fast squat would. Squatting slower will also make sure you don’t end up injuring yourself.
You should do sets of 8-12 repetitions, stopping when you can barely finish your last squat. Repeat this set twice, keeping in mind that each set will be less repetitions before failure.
Step 6- The Unbaring
When you are finished with your squatting session, simply place the barbell back to the rack slowly by stepping forward until the bar is in line with the rack and lowering your torso until the rack takes the weight off your shoulders.
Now that you’ve watched videos and seen pictures, does this seem less daunting? The squat is an essential move for those looking to strengthen their legs and get a balanced body shape. If this tutorial helped you feel confident to walk up to that power rack and show it who’s boss, share it with your friends. If you have any questions or comments feel free to add them below.
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