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What are Squat Racks?

Doing squats can help tone the quadriceps muscles.
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  • Written By: Carrie Grosvenor
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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Squat racks are used in weight lifting, mainly to hold a set of barbells at an appropriate height for the lifter. To perform basic squats, the barbells must rest on the shoulders while the squatter executes a deep knee bend. Squat racks ensure that the barbells are held at a steady position to begin the lift, and provide an immediate location to place the barbells once the squat has been performed.

Squat racks are very simple in their construction. Square metal rods make up the frame and the base, and the structure itself resembles a clothing rack. Short spotter rods are put in place to rest the barbells on, and the entire rack is adjustable depending on the user's height and the exercise being executed.

Some squat racks have added features like chin-up bars and rests for other free weights. These deluxe models resemble a metal cage, and are sometimes referred to as power racks, squat cages, or power cages. Squat racks of all types are staples at any gym or weight training center.

You've likely seen squat racks in action if you've ever watched weight lifting competitions or Iron Man challenges on television. The squat racks hold the gigantic weights that are being jerked up and over the heads of the weight lifters, and then catch the weights as they are being lowered.

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When purchasing squat racks, or using them at the gym, it is imperative that you check the racks for stability. They should rest flat on the floor and not wobble when a set of weights is lifted roughly. The base of the squat racks should be very heavy to ensure that the rack won't move or tip during use. Instability of the squat racks can result in serious injuries, including broken bones, torn or sprained muscles, and back injuries.

There is also potential for injury when doing back squats with squat racks. Back squats are performed with the barbells resting behind the neck, making it tricky to know exactly where the racks are when finished. If the weight lifter backs up too far, the bars at the base of the squat racks can cause a fall or a twisted or sprained ankle.

Squats are done to strengthen, tone, and develop the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and the lower back, and different variations on the basic squat will target specific muscle groups. Almost any type of squat can be performed with squat racks, making it a versatile and essential piece of equipment for both novice and professional weight lifters.

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