This one heads out to the beginner-ish lifters out there who squat and bench, however never ever feel quite as stable as the knowledgeable lifter in the next rack over. While your kind may require a bit of work (and you might most likely gain from squat shoes), there’s another thing you’ve probably ignored: the height of the hooks on the rack.
The hooks, of course, hold the bar while you’re filling it and preparing to lift. Let’s talk about the squat rack initially: you’ll probably establish the hooks so the bar is somewhere around shoulder height. Then you get under the bar, knees somewhat bent, and you correct your legs to stand up so the bar is on your back. Then you’ll take a step or 2 back from the rack, and start to squat.
Here’s how you’ll know if the hooks are set wrong: If you need to shrug your shoulders up as you go back, they’re too expensive. If you get up onto your tiptoes, they’re expensive. If you often scrape or bang the bar against the lip of the hook as you’re stepping back, they’re expensive. If you devote even one brain cell during your walkout to thinking about whether any of these things may occur, they’re too expensive. Oh, and if you shrug or tiptoe as you’re returning the bar to the rack, that counts, too.
Why it matters
If the hooks are too expensive, you’ll have to shrug or tiptoe to stroll the bar out, which’s unsafe (and at least irritating) when you have a heavy bar on your back. This is a problem.
If the hooks are too low, you simply have to flex your knees a bit more to get under the bar in the very first location. This is not an issue.
How to find the ideal height
When you approach the rack to do squats, take a minute to put the bar on your back. Stand up with it. (Think of that you’re doing your top set, which it’s really heavy.) If it’s even close to touching the hooks, get rid of the bar and bring the hooks down a notch or two. Remember, there’s no real downside to the hooks being too low.
On most racks, you can twist and pull the j-cups to move them. On some types of squat stands, there might be a post that moves up and down with a pin or a lever; on others, there’s simply a series of fixed hooks and you put the bar in whichever one feels right. If any of these hooks or holes are numbered, keep in mind the number in your training journal (or make a note on your phone, or whatever will work) so that you can set up rapidly next time.
If you and a partner are working in together and you are different heights or have various choices, set the bar to the lower alternative. So if Susie is 5′ 2″ and Timmy is 6′ 0″ and they are both preparing to squat the very same 300-pound bar, the hooks must be at Susie’s height and Timmy will just need to bend his knees a bit more to ready up. The option would be putting the hooks too high for Susie, which is hazardous for her.
This all applies to bench press, too
There are few things sadder than viewing a new-ish lifter thoroughly established for a bench press, tucking their shoulder blades under themselves and establishing a proper arch, and after that destroying all of it by rising to a bar that’s too high.
The issue is the exact same just like squats, and the indication are similar: If you align your elbows with your hands in your preferred grip and your shoulders still packed underneath you, and you can’t clear the lip of the hook, the bar is too high. Same if you have to take a narrower grip than you prefer. As I have actually mentioned in the past, I invested an awkward (in retrospection) amount of time benching with a too-narrow grip since it did not strike me as a beginner that I could decrease the bar and set my hands wider.
As soon as again, there is no real disadvantage to setting up too low, unless you then have problem getting the bar off the hooks to begin your lift. Because case, ask a friendly close-by lifter to give you a handoff. (This is a similar interaction as if you are requesting them to spot you, however if you just want a preliminary handoff and not an area, just say so.).
Some health clubs are set up with just a few hooks for each bench station or squat rack, which can be irritating however is seldom an insurmountable problem. Put in the time to examine your choices: does among the benches have a lower set of hooks than the others? Might the hook that looks too low in fact end up being best? Experiment and see.
And if you’re sticking to a certain hook due to the fact that you do not know how to adjust the rack, request assistance. It’s great to discover the ins and outs of your equipment, and nobody whose viewpoint is worth anything will evaluate you for it.