Learn how to set up a barbell squat rack to the right height for you with this video tutorial from Strong Guides.
Learning how to squat with correct form is one thing; being able to squat properly with the addition of weights is quite another. You can squat with dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells, and if you choose the latter, knowing how to set up your station properly is absolutely essential.
If you’ve never been in the gym before, a squat rack can be an intimidating piece of kit: a huge mound of metal with hooks and knobs that all need to be put in the correct place. Yet no one talks about how you use it – it’s assumed knowledge.
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While you may feel a little awkward, asking for help or working out how a piece of equipment works, we assure you that no one cares. But that doesn’t make beginner nerves go away.
There are already so many barriers to entry when it comes to getting into the gym – kit set up shouldn’t be another. That’s why we’ve created Strong Guides, our step-by-step tutorials on how to use common fitness equipment. Today, we’re looking at how to set up squat racks so you can lift with confidence.
Strong Guide to squat racks
First of all, check what kind of squat rack your gym has. In commercial gyms, the squat racks are often U-shaped frames, with two safety bars either side and a tall rail of hooks in the middle.
How to set up a squat rack
- Place the barbell on the hook that’s just below shoulder height.
- Stand under the barbell so it is resting on your upper back with your feet shoulder width apart. Your knees should be slightly bent to fit under the bar.
- Straighten your legs so you’re fully standing, lifting the barbell off of the hook as you do so.
- Step backwards so the barbell comes away from the hooks – you’re now ready to squat.
- When you’ve finished your set, step forwards so the barbell rests against the frame.
- Bend your knees to place it back on the hook.
Power lifting racks look a little bit more complicated, but rest assured they’re just as straightforward. These racks have detachable J-Hooks which are fixed with a pin and hole socket. The benefit of these racks is that you can adjust them to any height for any kind of exercise, such as a squat, rack pull or overhead press.
How to set up a power lifting rack
- Stand in front of the rack to work out were to place your J-Hook. For squats, you want to chose a hole that will allow the bar to rest just below your shoulders.
- Place the J-Hook at a right angle to the rack and put the J-Hook’s pin into the hole on the rack.
- Twist it into place so the J-Hook is sturdy.
- Now load the barbell onto the frame as before.
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Images: Chloe Gray / Getty
Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).