How to squat without a squat rack ?
Exercise • • 1 minute to read • By Shobhan Ojha, INFS Faculty
- Author: Shobhan Ojha
The Squat rack is a piece of equipment, most commonly seen in gyms all around the world. It helps one perform barbell back or front squats without having to lift the bar from the ground, which can be difficult at times, especially if the load is heavy.
The squat rack can also be used for performing other exercises (No, we don't encourage performing bicep curls in the squat rack) like the barbell Overhead Press, Bench Press, Shrugs etc.
There can be many instances where the unavailability of the squat rack can be an issue. In the past two years or so, after multiple outbreaks of COVID - 19 and subsequent lockdowns, many of us have ditched the gym and shifted to working out from our homes. Working out from home aka WFH is convenient given it does not require one to travel, get stuck in traffic, look for an empty locker in the gym and is relatively hygienic (and thus safer) but not everyone has the budget or the space to invest into a full fledged squat rack.
Worry not, as we got you covered. Don't let the unavailability of equipment come in the way of reaching your goals and getting those quads. All you have to do is to be a bit creative, be open to experimentation and try out the following variations.
- Dumbbell Front Squats : One of the most basic exercises which can be done at home with just a pair of dumbbells.
The movement starts by standing straight, feet shoulder width apart and the weight of the body equally balanced on both feet. Now, the next step is to hinge from the hips and bend down to grab hold of the dumbbells and clean them to one’s shoulders. This is the starting position. Now one has to break from the hips as well as the knees simultaneously to get down to a squat position while taking a big deep breath. To return to the starting position, begin the ascent by rising at the hips and the knees together while exhaling. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
- Goblet Squats: The Goblet Squat also involves loading the weight in front of the body, unlike a typical Barbell Back Squat, where the weight is placed on the back, behind the body.
It is a fantastic exercise which can be used when the lifter wants to progress from bodyweight squats to weighted squats, while working on improving their execution of the movement. Front loading the weight allows for elimination of excessive forward bending and hips rising before the knees, some of the common mistakes that are seen with barbell back squats. It can be performed by holding a dumbbell or a kettlebell in front of the body, throughout the movement.
- Bulgarian Split Squats: The bulgarian Split Squat is a one legged cousin of the squat where the lifter starts the movement in a staggered stance, with one leg in front of the other and the rear foot is placed, preferably on an elevated stable surface eg Bench. Being a unilateral movement, it involves core stabilization and takes care of any bilateral deficit that may be present and is a good way to individually target each leg.
Related Articles: How to do Bulgarian Split Squats
Related Articles: Bilateral deficit and how to overcome it
- Front foot elevated squats: The front foot elevated split squat is also a unilateral movement, but unlike the BSS, where the rear foot is elevated, it involves placing the front foot on a slightly elevated surface. This allows the lifter to have a better range of motion. By elevating the front foot, we can ensure that the knee of the rear foot doesn't touch the ground before full ROM for the front leg is achieved. It is also helpful if the lifter has long femurs. Being a unilateral movement, it requires core and pelvic stability to come into picture, thus allowing the trainee to train with lighter loads.
- Zercher Squats: The zercher squat is a great exercise when it comes to training the quadriceps. It eliminates the need of having access to a squat rack and allows the lifter to maintain an upright torso during the movement.The movement begins by hinging from the hips and scooping the bar with elbows before standing up. This is the starting position of the lift. The lifter should aim to stand upright before sitting down by breaking at the knees and the hips simultaneously to reach as much depth as possible.
The zercher squat can be a great alternative to the front squat in absence of a squat rack. The upright stance and holding the barbell in the crease of the elbows also involves a bit of upper back making the movement a full body exercise.
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