Combine the benefits
of free weight barbell squats with the benefits
of machine squats into one lower-body blasting
exercise! All you need is a rack and a barbell
and you'll be able to give your entire lower body
a sound thrashing.
Hitting the legs
HARD is one of my very favorite things to do in
the gym. But even for me, there are days when
the Barbell Squat is just not on the menu...I
either don't feel like doing it that day or I've
just done it recently.
That's where THIS
exercise comes into play...the Rack Hack, as I
like to call it. Basically, it combines the benefits
of free squatting (moving your body through space,
supporting the load on yourself, having freedom
of movement) with the benefits of the hack squat
machine (your body is more stabilized, it's easier
to get set up and perform the exercise).
Usually, you'd think
these benefits would be mutually exclusive...after
all, how can you maintain freedom of movement
where your body is actually more stabilized!
I'll show you...
First you're going
to need a power rack and a barbell. Set one of
the safety rails up high (about shoulder height)
and one of the rails low (around midsection height).
When you set a bar on it, it'll be tilted downward
at a fairly steep angle.
Before you put any
weight on the bar, test the height to make sure
you can squat down and get your shoulder under
it (because that's what you're going to be doing
in the exercise!).
Once you've got
the height set, load BOTH ends of the bar. You
don't need as much on the higher end - that's
more for anchoring the weight. Be careful when
you load the bottom end as the plates will have
a tendency to slide. Put a plate on then immediately
put a collar on.
Now you have a choice...you
can do the exercise with no padding or with a
towel wrapped around the end of the bar (the standard
barbell pad won't fit because it would go on the
thick end of the bar). In the demo pics, I'm using
a towel. If you're using lighter weight, it won't
matter so much.
Squat down beside
the bar and set your right shoulder under the
end. Your back should be right up against the
weight plates. Reach up and grip the end of the
bar with both hands to keep control of the bar
and lock yourself onto it.
Now stand up! You'll
notice that you're somewhat locked into the movement
while still maintaining freedom of movement. The
end of the barbell moves freely in space, allowing
you to find your own groove in the exercise while
still having the one end of the bar anchored so
you have a pivot point to move from.
This is a VERY effective
combination that really does give you the best
of both worlds. The other cool thing? You get
excellent core training as well, because you're
supporting the weight on one shoulder.
Because of that,
I recommend alternating sides with the exercise.
I do 3 reps on one side then 3 reps on the other
side, going back and forth. You can also do your
full set of reps on one shoulder, take your rest
period (60 to 90 seconds is good) then do your
next set on the other shoulder. Either way works
I recommend sets
of 8 to 12 reps with this exercise but feel free
to experiment with different weights and ranges...because
the OTHER nice thing about this setup is that
you finish at the BOTTOM.
What's so special
about that? It means you can push your legs until
they're TRASHED and simply set the weight back
down on the rack rail without ever worrying about
getting stuck under a bar.
So if you're looking
for a way to do hack squats and your gym doesn't
have the machine for it, this is a very effective
alternative. You can also set the bar up higher,
set a calf block down and do standing calf raises
with this type of setup as well.
When you give this
exercise a try and can't walk normally for several
days after because your legs are like rubber,
you can blame me. I'll accept it.
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