The squat is a powerful, all-encompassing movement and it’s become important to learn how to use a squat rack machine.
It requires power, skill, and an unrelenting desire to carry that heavy barbell.
Before looking into the movement, it’s important to understand the value of a squat rack machine, how it works, and what’s needed to use it properly.
Unfortunately, several gym-goers make mistakes and end up using the squat rack machine incorrectly.
Here’s a look at what the squat rack machine is all about.
What is a Squat Rack Machine?
A squat rack machine is a term used to describe both the power rack (traditional squat rack) and the smith machine.
With the traditional power rack, it’s a set rack for the barbell while squatting. Users can play around with the settings, place their barbell at the right height, and go through the motion with safety bars on the side. It’s a wonderful way to feel safe throughout the squat.
While a modern squat rack machine (i.e. smith machine) has a controlled bar path. Users add weight to the side but the barbell moves up and down on a set track. This means if the bar slips, users can quickly duck out of the way.
There are merits to both variations and it’s important to use them wisely.
Tips on How to Use Squat Rack Machine
1. Set the Right Height for Barbell
When it comes to using an elite squat rack machine, we recommend setting the right height for your barbell.
This should be done before anything else.
In essence, the idea is to know where the barbell will be collected as the movement begins. Remember, the first step involves walking up to the barbell and picking it up onto your shoulders for the traditional squat.
It should be set at a height where you can duck under, pick up the barbell onto your shoulders, and walk back without falling.
This means it shouldn’t be set high causing you to get on your toes while unracking the bar. It also means you shouldn’t set it too low where you have to squat to unrack the bar!
Work with different heights and see what’s comfortable for you. Each person has different preferences and it’s important to get things just right before starting.
2. Go Through a Practice Set
This is the best place to start.
Experts state it’s best to go through a practice set before each session at the gym. This allows your body to adjust and recognize the movement before lifting a heavy barbell.
The squat is challenging and you need this set to maximize your chances of a safe session.
When it comes to the squat rack machine, you need this set to learn more about what works and what doesn’t.
Don’t just rack up the weights and try to power through. This is only going to lead to form-related mistakes and/or injury.
3. Understand the Safety Mechanisms
Do you know how the squat rack machine works?
Each machine is unique and is going to have different features with regards to the safety mechanisms.
Modern machines come with easy to use settings that allow the safety bars to move up and down in seconds. You have to learn how to use these features because it’s easy to make a mistake and get hurt.
Imagine setting the safety bars and not locking them into place. This means when the bar drops, it’s going to fall right through and cause you to take the brunt of the weight.
Don’t assume the safety bars are in good shape. You have to test them and make sure they’re securely in place.
4. Set the Correct Height for Safety Bars
Just like the barbell height, you also have to think about the safety bars.
There are times when people squat without realizing the safety bars aren’t actually protecting them!
The safety bars have to be at a height where you can squat as low as you want while still offering complete protection. This means it has to be only an inch or two below your maximum squatting position.
While setting up the bars, go through the movement and see where the bar needs to stop for you to complete your set. In some cases, you can even practice dropping the barbell to see if the bars are at the correct height.
5. Wear the Right Gear
Do you want to use the squat rack machine properly?
We have a list of items that can go a long way in making your life easier!
Take the time to invest in:
- Quality weightlifting gloves (Fit Active Sports Gloves)
- Barbell Pad for Shoulders (Fit Viva Barbell Pad)
- Squat Shoes (Adidas Powerlift)
With these items by your side, the squat rack machine will become easier to use. Too often, gym-goers will hurt themselves because they don’t have the right gear. Using the machine isn’t easy and it requires hard work. You need to come prepared to make the most of it.
6. Focus on the Bar Path
Where is the bar going while you’re squatting?
The bar path is essential when it comes to maximizing your lift. This means the bar should go straight up and down while resting on your shoulders. It shouldn’t droop to the right or left as you squat down into position before bursting up. If the bar is moving then it’s important to properly secure your grip.
One of the issues people deal with is ego lifting.
This includes lifting 20-50 lbs. more than their body can handle. Don’t be one of those people!
You are going to get hurt and it’s simply not a good idea. Be smart, focus on lifting the right amount, and lock in your gains. This is a far better strategy than looking like a fool at the gym and ending up in the hospital.
To learn more about the bar path, it’s best to start with just the bar on your shoulders.
Go through the form, learn how your body reacts, and then make appropriate adjustments.
This is why we recommend getting high-quality squatting shoes such as the Adidas Powerlift.
This is what’s required while learning how to use squat rack machines.
Stay focused, learn more about the machine, and make sure the correct form is used from start to finish.
As long as you do this, the squat rack machine is going to become your best friend at the gym!