In this blog, we have compiled a list of the best exercises that you can do with a squat rack and how to perform them correctly. These squat rack exercises use a variety of muscles so that you can build your strength and get a good workout.
Why use a squat rack
You might be wondering what are the benefits of a squat rack and why you need one in the first place. Using a squat rack is great for building strength, as it allows you to easily add more weight incrementally. With a squat rack, you can try adding more weight than you would have if you were unassisted, as you can always put the weights back on the rack if you get too tired.
Squat racks help you to train safely, as you have the confidence that the bars stop the weights from falling on you. And they are not just great for squats — they can also be used for dozens of other exercises and variations, building up different muscle groups, including quads, calves, glutes and core strength.
It is for these reasons that squat racks are essential for any weight training, both for beginners and experienced weight lifting enthusiasts.
Of course, with any exercise make sure you feel comfortable with your technique before you start adding more weight. You should always start with less weight and perform the exercises slowly so that you know you are doing every step correctly.
Pullups are great for exercising your triceps and are an essential upper body strengthening exercise. They also improve the condition of various muscles in the back and shoulders, so aim to add them to your workout regularly if you want to improve these areas.
- Place your hands on the overhead bar with your palms facing forwards about shoulder width apart
- Bend your legs at the knees to hang from the bar
- Pull yourself up as high as you can, trying to raise your head over the bar.
The king of the squat rack exercises is, of course, squats. They improve your glutes, hip flexors, and quadriceps, as well as abs, calves and hamstrings. There are many variations of this exercise, but here is a great version for all fitness levels:
- Set the barbell on the squat rack just below shoulder level
- Step under the bar in a squat position
- Position the bar on the back of your shoulders
- Place both hands on the bar with your palms facing away from your body
- Lift the bar off the rack and raise it towards the ceiling
- Straighten your legs and your body and take a step back, making sure you stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart
- Tighten your core and keep your back straight
- Bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes
- Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor, with your back at a 45- to 90-degree angle to your hips
- Do your repetitions before returning the bar to the squat rack.
3. Bicep curls
The next of our squat rack exercises, the barbell curl, improves arm strength and your grip. Besides your biceps, you will be exercising your forearms and wrists. To do the bicep curls correctly:
- Set the barbell in a low position
- With a tight underhand grip (hands facing up), pick up the bar
- Take a step back
- With a neutral spine, bring the bar up to shoulder height, keeping your elbows in front of your hips
- Lower the bar down slowly, keeping your triceps engaged
- Once back in the original position, straighten your arms fully
- Do your repetitions.
4. Overhead press
The overhead press is a fundamental exercise in the world of Olympic lifting. It even used to be one of the main events until it got discontinued when some of the participants started to lean back to make it easier to lift the weight. The overhead press with a squat rack is a great exercise for shoulder health. To do your overhead press:
- 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.
Performing deadlifts has multiple advantages, including carrying less risk if you can’t complete a repetition. When done correctly, deadlifts are great if you suffer from lower back pain and for training your hip extensors, glutes and hamstrings and they are effective for training your core muscles. Make sure you keep a straight back when you do your squat rack exercises.
- Put the bar on the lowest position of the squat rack and load the bar with your weights
- Stand with your feet at about shoulder-width apart
- Lean forward, bending at the hips and keeping your back straight and grab the bar
- With a slight bend in the knees, squeeze your glutes and pick the bar up, keeping it close to your legs
- To lower the bar, bend at the hips and lower the weight slowly
6. Lat pulldown
The lat pulldown is fantastic for strengthening your back muscles. However, many people perform this exercise incorrectly. It’s important to avoid leaning back too much or taking your elbows back. This exercise is performed with adjustable resistance (plates) and a straight bar. You can find these included in the HyGYM Multi Gym Squat Rack.
- Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor.
- Adjust the bar height if necessary so that you can comfortably grasp it without having to stand up
- Grasp the bar with an overhand (hands facing down)
- Engage your abs and squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the bar down
- Keep pulling down until the bar is at chin level or a position in which your elbows can’t move downward anymore without moving backwards
- Slowly bring the bar up to the starting position
- Continue until you’ve completed your repetitions.
7. Barbell stepping lunges
Besides contributing to weight loss, stepping lunges are effective for training your balance and stability. This exercise can also correct imbalances and misalignments in your body by balancing your strength and flexibility on both sides of your body, improving cases of muscle overcompensation.
- Position the bar on the squat rack at chest height
- Load the bar with your weights
- Step under the bar and grip it with your palms facing forward
- Place the bar on top of your taps, on the back of your shoulders
- Push the bar out of the rack and step back with your feet hip-width apart
- Inhale as you take a long step forward to perform a lunging squat with one leg, keeping your torso upright
- Exhale as you step back to raise your torso and go back to the starting position
- Repeat the lunge with the opposite leg
8. Hanging leg lift
Hanging leg raises work the abdominals and hip flexors, and also improves core strength, spine health, and mobility. This is an advanced exercise in which you have to use your muscle strength to hang from a bar with extended arms and it can be used to vary your ab routine. You will definitely feel your abdominals working very hard (and the higher you lift your legs, the more they will work).
- Grab the overhead bar with your palms facing forward.
- Lift your legs by bending at the hips.
- Either bend your knees (as if you’re squatting in mid-air) or keep your knees straight as you raise them
- Slowly lower your legs back down
9. Flat bench press
These squat rack exercises work your chest, shoulders and triceps. Unlike the incline chest press, which uses more of your upper pec, the flat bench builds mass over the entire chest, helping develop more muscles.
- With your feet firmly planted on the floor, lie down your back on the bench
- Keep your back straight and flat against the bench (you can place your feet on the edge of the bench if that makes it easier for you to keep your back straight)
- Lift the back from the rack
- Inhale as you bring the bar down, closer to your chest
- Exhale and take the bar up as you straighten your arms over your chest
10. Good morning
Yes, ‘good morning’ is the name of the last of our squat rack exercises, which is great for training your hamstrings. To avoid injuring your lower back, remember not to use too much weight at the beginning.
- Set up for a squat with the bar behind your shoulders (NOT on your neck) and a forward grip
- Instead of lowering your butt as you would in a normal squat, bend at your hips and push your butt back, keeping your back straight
- Drive your hips forward to return to the starting position
How to choose the right squat rack
As you can see, squat racks are incredibly versatile for a number of exercises, making them essential for all gyms (including home gyms), allowing you to work out safely and efficiently.
Whether you are using it at home or in your gym, always look for a squat rack that comes with solid safety pins and multiple features. With a capacity of 400KG, the HyGYM Multi Gym Squat Rack comes with safety locks to help you work out safely, as well as extra features such as soft-touch handles and pulley attachments.