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Article: When Should I Do Rack Squats Instead of Standard?

When Should I Do Rack Squats Instead of Standard? - Gunsmith Fitness

When Should I Do Rack Squats Instead of Standard?

The squat is a fundamental movement in strength training, known for its ability to build muscle mass and improve functional strength. While the standard squat is a staple in many workout routines, the rack squat is a variation that can offer unique benefits. But when should you opt for rack squats over the standard version? This question is crucial for those aiming to optimize their training regimen.

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Understanding the Basics of Squats

What is a Standard Squat?

A standard squat, also known as a back squat, involves placing a barbell across the upper back and squatting down until your hips are below your knees. This movement engages multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. The standard squat is known for its versatility and effectiveness in building lower body strength.

However, the standard squat requires a significant amount of mobility and stability. It demands a good range of motion in the ankles, knees, and hips, as well as a strong core to maintain proper form. Therefore, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with mobility issues or injuries.

What is a Rack Squat?

The rack squat, or pin squat, is a variation of the standard squat performed inside a power rack. The barbell is set on safety pins at a specific height, usually at or slightly below knee level. The lifter squats down to the pins, pauses, then drives back up. This variation focuses more on the 'push' phase of the squat, emphasizing the quadriceps and glutes.

One of the main advantages of rack squats is that they allow for a controlled range of motion. This makes them a great option for those with mobility restrictions or those recovering from an injury. Furthermore, rack squats can be used to target specific weak points in your squat, as you can adjust the pin height to where you struggle the most.

When to Choose Rack Squats Over Standard Squats

When Dealing with Mobility Issues

If you have limited mobility in your ankles, knees, or hips, rack squats can be a safer and more effective option. By adjusting the pin height, you can perform squats within a comfortable range of motion. This can help you maintain proper form and reduce the risk of injury.

Furthermore, rack squats can be used as a tool to improve mobility. By gradually lowering the pin height over time, you can increase your range of motion in a controlled and safe manner.

When Recovering from an Injury

Rack squats can be particularly beneficial if you're recovering from an injury. Since they allow for a controlled range of motion, they can help you gradually reintroduce squats into your routine without putting excessive strain on your joints.

However, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating rack squats into your recovery plan. They can provide guidance on the appropriate pin height and weight to ensure a safe and effective recovery.

When Targeting Specific Weak Points

If you're struggling with a specific part of your squat, rack squats can be a great tool to overcome this. By setting the pins at the point where you struggle the most, you can focus on strengthening that part of the movement.

For example, if you struggle with the bottom part of the squat, you can set the pins just below knee level. This will allow you to focus on the 'push' phase of the squat, helping you build strength and confidence in that part of the movement.


While the standard squat is a powerful exercise for building lower body strength, the rack squat offers unique benefits that can make it a valuable addition to your training routine. Whether you're dealing with mobility issues, recovering from an injury, or looking to target specific weak points, rack squats can provide a safe and effective solution.

However, it's important to remember that both standard and rack squats require proper form to be effective and safe. Therefore, it's recommended to seek guidance from a fitness professional to ensure you're performing these exercises correctly.

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