Matt Gemkow, the author of this content section at Select Fitness USA, boasts more than 15 years of fitness experience. He started out in sports and athletic training for many years and has since 2014 transitioned into heavy-weight training and bodybuilding. As a result, he has become one of the most experienced fitness equipment experts out there, and a valuable source of information.
17 Ways to Use A Squat Rack For The Ultimate Exercise Routine
The squat might be the most versatile piece of fitness equipment there is in tandem with a barbell and some weights.
Not only is it perfect for squats, but there are countless other exercises you can do with this equipment.
In this article, we'll discuss 17 ways to use a squat rack and how to incorporate one into your workout routine.
Whether you're a beginner or an experienced lifter, these exercises will help enhance your fitness journey.
Why Using The Squat Rack Is Beneficial
Squat racks, including power racks, half racks, squat stands and some other variations, are very versatile, offering numerous benefits for your workout routine.
Not only does it allow you to perform traditional exercises like squats and lunges safely, but it also provides opportunities for utilizing barbell exercises to target specific muscle groups.
By adjusting the height and weight of the barbell, you can customize your workouts to fit your individual needs.
The squat rack offers a customizable and cost-effective way to achieve a well-rounded workout targeting multiple muscle groups at once.
Using the squat rack is not only cost-effective but also allows you to work out with confidence and safety.
Additionally, by incorporating a variety of exercises such as shoulder presses or deadlifts, you can achieve a well-rounded workout targeting multiple muscle groups at once.
With its versatility and adjustability options, the squat rack should be an essential part of any fitness regime seeking maximum results in minimal time.
Squatting with proper form and safety measures is crucial when using the squat rack for various exercises.
Ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart, push down through your heels, keep a straight back and avoid arching it.
Meanwhile, using the barbell to do shoulder presses safely requires utilizing a weight that you can handle without compromising your form. Use a spotter or ask for assistance if necessary.
Performing rack pulls is an excellent way to deadlift safely while targeting specific muscle groups such as the lower back and glutes.
Always start with lighter weights before gradually increasing them over time, ensuring that your grip is firm on the barbell throughout each rep.
Remember to engage core muscles during every exercise involving the squat rack for maximum stability and safety!
A squat rack can be a cost-effective home gym alternative that saves you money on memberships.
With one piece of equipment, you can perform multiple barbell exercises, eliminating the need for expensive machines or specialized equipment.
By investing in a quality squat rack, you'll have access to a wide range of exercises without breaking the bank.
Adjustable To Your Needs
Easily adjust the height of your squat rack to accommodate different exercises and individual heights.
The flexibility of the barbell exercises is one of the benefits that come with owning a squat rack.
J-hooks make it easy to reposition where the bar sits during an exercise, allowing for minimal interruptions or distractions.
Additionally, adding resistance bands to tailor workouts specific to your needs is another way you can personalize your routine while using a squat rack.
Versatile Exercise Opportunities
Front squats, back squats, overhead press, push press and more can all be performed using the versatile squat rack.
Including explosive movements such as jump shrugs or power cleans into your routine will not only enhance your cardiovascular fitness but also increase muscular strength.
For a well-rounded workout session, box jumps and step-ups in addition to traditional exercises are highly recommended.
Here are some barbell exercise options that you can try on the squat rack:
- Front squats
- Back squats
- Overhead press
- Push press
Incorporating these exercises into your routine will provide numerous benefits such as improved posture, muscle balance and increased bone density.
If you're looking for an intense workout that targets multiple muscle groups at once - look no further than the trusty squat rack!
17 Best Squat Rack Exercises To Use In Your Routine
The squat rack is a versatile piece of equipment that can be used for more than just squats.
Try incorporating exercises like barbell lunges, good mornings, and rack pulls into your routine to target different muscle groups and add variety.
You can also use the squat rack for dips, ab crunches, and pull-ups with the addition of some accessories.
With these 17 different exercises in your arsenal, you'll never get bored with your workouts again!
Barbell Front/Back Squat
High Bar Back Squats, Front Squats with Crossed Arms and Box Squats are all variations of the traditional barbell front/back squat that can be performed using a squat rack. These exercises help engage different muscle groups in your lower body while also improving overall strength.
- High Bar Back Squats:
- Targets quads while engaging hamstrings and glutes
- Front squats with crossed arms:
- Focuses on building core strength while targeting quads
- Box squats:
- Increases explosiveness by adding resistance at the bottom of the movement
By incorporating these variations into your workout routine, you not only add variety but also challenge yourself to improve your form and technique. With proper execution, these exercises will help you achieve greater gains in strength, power and muscular endurance.
Flat/Incline/Decline Bench Press
The close grip bench press is a variation of the traditional bench press that places more emphasis on the triceps. By bringing your hands closer together, you reduce the involvement of the chest muscles and increase activation in your triceps.
Another technique to enhance your bench press is using pause reps on the chest while lowering or pressing up during each repetition. This helps build strength at weaker points in your lift and also helps improve overall stability.
For those looking to develop lockout strength, board presses are an excellent accessory exercise for use with a squat rack.
Board presses involve adding boards onto your chest as you perform a bench press, limiting range of motion to work on building power through partial reps near lockout position.
These exercises can be adjusted based on how many boards are added for targeted training purposes and can lead to impressive gains over time when incorporated into regular programming.
Overhead Shoulder Press
To add variety to your shoulder workout, incorporate push-presses, seated Z-presses and behind the neck push jerks into your overhead shoulder press routine.
Push-presses use a slight dip to generate momentum for lifting heavier weights while seated Z-presses isolate the shoulders by removing any leg drive.
Behind the neck push jerks require proper form and flexibility but can help increase explosive power in the shoulders. Mix up these exercises in sets of 3 or 4 for an effective and dynamic shoulder workout using the squat rack as your base equipment.
Barbell Bent Over Rows
Pendlay Rows, Kroc Rows, and Yates Rows are all variations of the Barbell Bent Over Row exercise that can be performed using the squat rack.
Pendlay Rows involve explosive movements with a brief pause at the bottom of each rep to reset your form. Kroc Rows require higher reps and heavier weights for maximum back muscle development.
Yates Rows focus on keeping constant tension on your muscles throughout each rep by pulling towards your chest instead of your abdomen.
Incorporating these rowing exercises into your workout routine can help build a stronger back and improve overall posture.
Looking for a way to mix up your leg day routine? Look no further than barbell lunges.
With variations like reverse lunges with knee drive, Bulgarian split squats with rear-foot elevated, and curtsy lunges for glutes and hamstrings activation, you can hit all the major muscles in your lower body while also improving balance and stability.
Plus, using a barbell adds an extra challenge to these already tough exercises. Incorporating barbell lunges into your workout will help you build strength in your legs and increase overall athleticism.
Barbell Bicep Curls
Preacher curls at different angles can be a game-changer for your bicep workouts.
By adjusting the angle of the preacher bench, you can target different parts of your biceps and increase overall muscle activation.
Another great exercise to try is hammer curls with dumbbells alternating from sides to front to center of body.
This variation hits not only the biceps but also forearms and brachialis muscles for a more complete arm workout.
Finally, 21's - partial bicep curls combining full and partial reps are an excellent way to feel the burn in your arms while increasing time under tension for maximal hypertrophy gains.
Incorporate these exercises into your routine on days when you use the squat rack for some well-rounded upper body training!
Good Mornings / Romanian Deadlifts
Hip thrusts on the rack pad can be an effective way to target your glutes after deadlifting.
By using the raised platform of the squat rack, you can achieve a deeper range of motion and really engage those muscles for a burn that will leave you feeling satisfied.
Single leg good mornings are another great exercise to try out on the squat rack.
Not only do they help with balance and core activation, but they also isolate one side of your body at a time for better muscle targeting. This is especially helpful if you have any imbalances or weaknesses in your lower body.
For those looking to isolate their hamstrings and lower back muscles, stiff-legged deadlifts on the squat rack may be just what you need.
With proper form and control, this exercise can help improve strength in these key areas while also providing a challenging workout for your entire posterior chain.
Tricep / Chest Dips
Dips off a bench which provides greater range of motion are an excellent exercise to target the chest and triceps.
The use of a squat rack can provide stability, allowing for proper form when performing this challenging movement.
Straight bar dips or T-bar dips can be performed using the squat rack as well, offering variations that add intensity to your workout routine.
Another variation is L-sit Dips where you hold your legs out in front as long as possible while performing dips.
This engages both the core muscles and upper body muscles simultaneously, making it an advanced-level exercise that requires significant strength and balance.
- Dips off a bench with greater range of motion
- Straight bar dips or T-bar dips
- L-sit Dips
Hanging Ab Crunches / Leg Raise
To target your ab muscles and strengthen your core, try incorporating hanging ab crunches/leg raises into your workout routine.
These exercises can be done by hanging from a bar, raising your legs up to engage the abs, and lowering them back down.
For an added challenge, try variations such as windshield wipers (moving your legs side-to-side), L-sit holds (hanging from the bar and bringing your legs up to form an L-shape), or Abs Wheel Rollouts (a challenging exercise that targets all aspects of the core).
- Windshield Wipers
- Abs Wheel Rollouts
- L-sit holds
Rack Pull (Partial Deadlift)
Snatch grip rack pulls are a great exercise to strengthen your grip and activate your upper back muscles.
By using a wider grip, you increase the range of motion and target different muscle fibers compared to traditional deadlifts.
To perform this exercise, set up the bar in the squat rack at knee height or slightly higher, grab it with a wide grip overhand position, and pull upward while keeping your chest up.
Dead-stop rack pulls involve pulling from a dead stop on each rep with longer rest times between sets.
This helps build explosive strength as well as increasing overall strength by allowing you to lift heavier weights than traditional deadlifts due to starting from a static position.
For this variation, set up the bar in the squat rack just below knee height or wherever feels most comfortable for you and lift explosively from that static position before returning it back down for another rep.
Deficit rack pulls require standing on an elevated platform which puts more emphasis on your hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles while reducing stress on your shins during lifting compared with normal deadlifts where plates would be placed directly onto the ground.
Simply set up plates underneath each foot so that they are raised off of ground level then proceed with lifting like any other type of rack pull exercise!
Barbell Tricep Press
JM Presses are a compound exercise that targets the triceps and chest while minimizing stress on the elbows.
It's performed by lowering the bar to your chest, then pressing it up in front of you at a 45-degree angle.
Skull Crushers or French press work all three heads of the triceps, making them an effective way to build stronger arms.
Close-grip bench presses place more emphasis on the triceps than standard presses, leading to better muscle growth.
- JM Presses target triceps and chest
- Skull crushers or French press work all three heads of the triceps
- Close-grip bench presses emphasize greater use of tricep muscles
Axel shrugs, dumbbell shrugs at different angles, and hanging high pull shrugs are all exercises that can activate the traps in conjunction with the shoulders.
The squat rack is a perfect tool for performing these exercises as it provides a stable surface to perform them on, particularly when using heavier weights.
Using an Axel bar or variously angled dumbbells allows for greater muscle activation and variation, while the hanging high pull gives you explosive power development.
Add some trap shrugs to your routine with the help of a squat rack and watch your upper back muscles grow stronger than ever before!
Wide-grip pull-ups are a great exercise for targeting overall lat development.
By using a wider grip, you're able to engage the lats more effectively and create that much-desired V-taper.
If you want to focus more heavily on bicep development, try chin-ups instead of traditional pull-ups.
Chin-ups require less activation from the lats, which allows for greater emphasis on the biceps during the movement.
Another variation worth trying is behind-the-neck pull-ups which target upper back muscles often neglected during other exercises.
Just be sure to start with lighter weight or limited repetitions until your body gets used to this challenging exercise!
Lat Pull-down With A Pulley (optional)
If you're looking to work on your back muscles, the lat pull-down with a pulley is a great exercise that can be performed using the squat rack.
Start by attaching the pulley to the top of the rack and securing it properly. Use an attachment such as a V-bar or straight bar for better grip and control.
Sit facing towards the rack, grab onto the attachment with both hands and pull down towards your chest while keeping your elbows close to your sides.
This exercise primarily targets your latissimus dorsi (lats), but also engages other muscles such as biceps, rear delts, teres major/minor among others.
Make sure to keep proper form throughout this exercise by squeezing shoulder blades together at bottom of each rep and avoiding any excessive swinging or jerking movements while pulling down on cable/pulley system.
Chest Flies With A Pulley (optional)
One of the optional exercises that can be performed on a squat rack is chest flies with a pulley.
This exercise targets the pectoral muscles and helps in improving upper body strength.
Here are some key points to keep in mind while performing chest flies with a pulley:
- Adjust the height of the pulleys according to your preference.
- Keep your arms slightly bent throughout the movement.
- Engage your core muscles for stability.
- Exhale as you bring your hands together and inhale as you move them apart.
This exercise is ideal for those who want to add variety to their upper body workout routine, and it can also help in improving posture and reducing muscle imbalances.
Squat rack for landmine exercises (optional)
The squat rack can be used for a variety of exercises, including landmine exercises.
By attaching a landmine to the squat rack, you can perform movements such as landmine squats, rows and presses. These exercises are great for building total body strength and increasing stability.
If you already have a squat rack at your disposal, adding in some landmine variations is an easy way to diversify your workout routine without needing additional equipment.
Plus, the ability to adjust the height of the bar allows for customization based on your individual needs and goals.
Squat rack for storage (optional)
The squat rack is not only great for strength training, but it can also be used for storage.
By attaching hooks or shelves to the frame, you can keep your workout space organized and clutter-free.
This option is especially beneficial if you have a small home gym with limited storage space.
When using the squat rack for storage, make sure to choose sturdy hooks or shelves that can hold the weight of your equipment without bending or breaking.
You may also want to consider placing a mat on the floor underneath to absorb any impact from dropped weights and protect both your equipment and flooring.
1. Sample Exercise Routine Using The Squat Rack
The squat rack is a versatile piece of gym equipment that can be used for more than just squats. Here's an example exercise routine:
1. Warm-up with 10 minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike
2. Perform three sets of 10 reps each of barbell squats at a weight that challenges you but still allows proper form
3. Switch to the overhead press and perform three sets of eight reps each, increasing weight as needed
4. Utilize the rack for assisted pull-ups, performing three sets to failure
5. Finish off with Romanian deadlifts, aiming for four sets of ten reps
This sample routine highlights how the squat rack can be used to target multiple muscle groups in one workout while also allowing for progression through increased weights and variations in exercises performed.
2. Sample Exercise Routine Using The Squat Rack
Incorporating a squat rack into your exercise routine can provide an array of benefits for building strength and improving overall fitness. Here's a sample workout routine using the squat rack:
Begin with warming up by doing some cardio or light weights.
Then, start with barbell squats to work on leg and core muscles.
Move on to front squats, which focus more on quadriceps and upper back muscles.
Continue with barbell lunges, deadlifts, and Bulgarian split squats for targeting hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves as well as lower back muscles.
To challenge yourself further over time while increasing stamina & strength gradually; increase weights used in each exercise every week or two weeks depending upon personal preference but do not exceed overly high limits at once otherwise there is risk of injury during exercises such as these!
3. Sample Exercise Routine Using The Squat Rack
One effective exercise routine utilizing the squat rack is to start with a warm-up set of squats, followed by four sets of 10-12 reps at moderate weight.
After completing these sets, move on to lunges using dumbbells or kettlebells for added resistance and stability training.
Finish with calf raises to strengthen your lower leg muscles.
Another option for a challenging workout involves starting with front squats performed in three sets of six reps each, gradually increasing the weight each time.
Then move onto Romanian deadlifts for hamstring strength and finish off with pull-ups or assisted pull-ups using the attachments available on the squat rack.
Tips For Progress
Challenge yourself by gradually increasing the weight you lift and the number of reps you perform. Use proper form to avoid injury, and focus on engaging your target muscles with each movement.
Incorporate different variations of squat rack exercises into your routine to keep things interesting and work multiple muscle groups at once. For example, try lunges, pull-ups or step-ups using the squat rack as a support system for added stability.
Squat Rack Exercise FAQs
Looking to get the most out of your squat rack?
Here are some frequently asked questions about using this versatile piece of equipment for a wide range of exercises.
Squat Racks Or Power Racks?
When deciding between a squat rack and a power rack, it's important to consider your exercise goals.
While both can provide an effective workout, the squat rack is ideal for exercises that require more freedom of movement and flexibility.
Additionally, using a squat rack can help improve balance and stability during exercises like squats or lunges.
One major benefit of using a squat rack over a power rack is its versatility. With adjustable J-hooks and safety bars, you can perform various exercises such as pull-ups, dips or incline bench presses in addition to traditional leg workouts.
Before selecting either option however, make sure to take into account factors such as budget constraints, space availability and personal fitness goals when making your choice between the two.
How Do You Target Your Glutes On The Squat Rack?
Sumo squats are an excellent way to target your inner thighs and glutes on the squat rack.
By taking a wider stance and pointing your toes outward, you engage these muscle groups more effectively.
Split squats also allow you to focus on one leg at a time, making them perfect for balancing out any strength imbalances or working through any injuries.
Finally, hip thrusts on the rack with the barbell are another great exercise for targeting your glutes specifically - simply place your upper back across the bench of the squat rack and position yourself under the barbell before lifting it up using only your hips.
What Are Some Squat Rack Exercises For Legs
Front squats are a great exercise for targeting your quads and building overall leg strength.
By holding the barbell in front of your body, you engage your core muscles as well.
Bulgarian split squats are another effective squat rack exercise that will really work your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
Lastly, lunges are an excellent way to engage all the leg muscles including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
- Front squats for quad development
- Bulgarian split squat to target quads, hamstrings, and glutes
- Lunges to engage entire leg muscles
What Are Some Squat Rack Exercises For Your Back?
Pendlay rows and barbell rows are two effective exercises for targeting the back muscles using a squat rack.
T-bar rows can also be done with the help of a chest-supported rowing exercise that provides stability to your lower back while engaging your upper and middle back muscles.
Inverted rows, on the other hand, are an excellent bodyweight exercise that targets your upper back without putting too much stress on your joints.
Here is a list of some exercises you can do for your back using a squat rack:
- Pendlay Rows or Barbell Rows
- T-Bar Rows – chest-supported rowing exercise done in squat rack
- Inverted Rows: bodyweight exercise that targets upper back
What Are Some Squat Rack Exercises For Beginners?
Squat racks are a versatile piece of equipment that can be used for a variety of exercises, making them great for beginners.
One exercise that is perfect for beginners is the barbell squat, which works your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes all at once.
Another great exercise is the overhead press, which targets your shoulders and triceps while also engaging your core. Both of these exercises are easy to learn and perform on a squat rack.
If you're looking to work on your upper body strength, try doing chin-ups or pull-ups using the horizontal bar attached to the top of most squat racks.
These exercises will target your back muscles as well as engage your biceps and forearms.
As a beginner, it's important to start with assisted versions of these exercises until you build up enough strength to do them unassisted.
Overall, there are many different types of exercises that can be done on a squat rack by beginners that will help build overall strength in various parts of the body.
At the end of the day, these example exercises and workout routines are really just the start.
With a great rack, a barbell, and some weight plates, plus a little creativity, your options to work out with a squat rack are nearly endless.
Start by using the exercises listed in this resource and start to add variation where necessary.
With a little practice and experience, you might end up with dozens of exercises in your playbook with a full workout regimen at your fingertips.
Have questions about working out on a squat rack? Just reach out to us! Send a live chat here on the website, email us, or give us a call at 888-995-4450 today!