The squat rack is to the gym what pumpkin spice is to the fall. Walk into any Globe gym or garage gym and you’ll see “at least” a squat rack or squat cage welcoming the weight machine in its metallic grandeur.
Unfortunately, most trainees do not use the full potential of the squat rack. Generally, when someone uses a squat rack, it’s because they’re squatting, says Grayson Wickham, DPT physiotherapist, CSCS, founder of the Movement Vault digital exercise platform. There is no doubt that back squats are beneficial. But “on a squat rack, you can do a lot more than back squats,” he says.
Read on for proof. Below, Wickham shares five of his favorite rack squat exercises (other than back squats!). All you need for these muscle building exercises is a squat rack or basic squat rack, a barbell and some plates.
Theoretically, the front squat sounds almost the same as the back squat. After all, both of these exercises involve squats with a barbell in hand. However, front squats require you to hold the barbell in a front rack position on your chest, not along your back.
When you move the barbell from the back to the front, Wickham says, the primary muscles used to move the weight shift from the back chain muscles to the front chain muscles. This means, he says, that the front squat engages the muscles in the front of the body, such as the quads and core, more than the back squat.
Because of the position of the bar, he says, people can maintain a more upright torso position in the front squat than in the back squat. This generally allows you to sit deeper, which means the exercise works your squat muscles (hamstrings, quads, and glutes) through a greater range of motion.
For standard barbell front squats, you usually want to place the bar on a squat rack so that it is about shoulder level. However, advanced Olympic weightlifters who regularly clean squat during training should set the bar lower, Wickham says.
“Working from the bottom will help strengthen your hamstrings and glutes for maximum range of motion, making standing squats easier,” he says. In other words, this iteration can provide a transfer of benefits to your other exercises.
The illegitimate child of lunges and barbell squats, the Bulgarian split squat involves lowering and raising the body in a cross-legged lunge position.
This is a one-sided exercise that allows you to train your lower body muscles on one side at a time, helping to correct muscle imbalances that occur on both sides.
“Because we all have one front leg when we walk or run, most of us have some asymmetry on the left and right sides of the body,” Wickham said. While some asymmetry is normal, too much can lead to abnormal movement patterns and even increase the risk of injury.
Adding a barbell to your back during this movement will help maximize muscle development and improve balance, according to Wickham. “Heavy exercise puts more stress on the leg muscles and core,” he says, which ultimately makes exercise more effective at improving balance.
The rack deadlift, also known as the deadlift, is a variation of the deadlift that involves pulling a weighted barbell off the rack rather than off the floor.
According to Wickham, there are two groups of people who can benefit from frame pulls. First, those who cannot bend down to touch their toes from a standing position.
“If you don’t have the hamstring flexibility to keep your fingertips on the floor, then you don’t have the hamstring flexibility you need to lift the deadlift safely off the floor,” he says. In fact, trying to do this puts your lower back in a sub-optimal position, he says.
“When you don’t have enough flexibility in one muscle group or joint, another muscle group or joint has to compensate,” he explains. Increasing the height of the bar with pegs and squat racks allows you to take advantage of the hamstring-strengthening benefits of the deadlift, while drastically reducing the risk of injury, he says.
The second group that can benefit from rack pulls are elite-level athletes such as powerlifters. Wickham explained that people are weakest at the end of the range of motion, meaning that the hardest part of the deadlift is the first few inches off the ground. If you get rid of the first few inches of the deadlift by lifting from the starting position, you can lift more weight, he says.
“When you can pull more weight, you put more stress on the muscles and the central nervous system,” he explains. This helps increase your overall strength and helps prepare your body to lift more weight later in the regular deadlift.
People mistakenly believe that the strict bench press, also known as the shoulder press, only works the shoulder muscles. While this exercise strengthens your shoulders, Wickham says it also works your entire upper body, core, and legs.
“When you do this exercise correctly, you tense your quads, feet, glutes, midline, and just about every other muscle for stability as you lift the weight over your head,” he says.
While the most comprehensive workout program will include a variety of shoulder exercises, Wickham says the strict bench press is better for building muscle than other types of bench press.
“You lift the same tool with both hands together, which allows you to lift more weight than with two dumbbells or kettlebells,” he explains.
As you lift more weight, more muscle fibers are activated, he says, resulting in more strength and explosive power after recovery.
Few exercises are as beloved by powerlifters as the bench press. But few people who love to bench press regularly include the bench press in their routine—which, according to Wickham, greatly compromises their strength goals.
According to him, the incline bench press engages the same tense muscles (chest, triceps, and delts) as the standard bench press. “But because the incline bench press lowers your chest, those muscles work with a greater range of motion than the standard bench press,” he says.
Post time: Apr-10-2023