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 How to Squat When You Don’t Have a Power Rack‏

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How to Squat When You Don’t Have a Power Rack‏ Empty
PostSubject: How to Squat When You Don’t Have a Power Rack‏   How to Squat When You Don’t Have a Power Rack‏ EmptyTue Oct 16, 2012 5:01 pm

StrongLifts 5x5 includes free weight barbell Squats 3x/week. These are key to the program since they work all your muscles from head to toe. For maximal results you must Squat often & increase the weight systematically.
But some gyms don't have the equipment you need for Squats: the Power Rack. Or maybe you're building a home gym and don't have a rack yet. Here are some alternatives to Power Racks and ways to Squat without rack.

Benefits of Power Rack. Power Racks make it easy to get the bar in the proper position for the Squat & Bench Press. They add safety and are versatile. Every gym should have a Power Rack.

Easier. The easiest and safest way to get a loaded barbell on your back for Squats is using the uprights of your Power Rack.
Safer. Power Racks have safety pins. If anything goes wrong during a Squat, you can drop the bar on these. Read this post.
Versatile. Tons of exercises you can do with a quality Power Rack: Dips, Pull-ups, Inverted Rows, Rack Pulls, Bench Press, Front Squats, ...

Alternatives to Power Racks. If your gym doesn't have a Power Rack, you'll usually encounter one of these to do your Squats in:

Squat Rack. Open Power Rack. Less safe since they usually don't have safety pins (although some do, but can't be adjusted). Example.
Squat Stands. Can fall over if you don't watch what you're doing. Don't come with safety pins, but you can use saw horses. Example.
Smith Machine. Power Rack with fixed barbell. It looks safer, but isn't. And it's less effective than using free weights. AVOID. Example.
Leg Press. Same problems as the Smith Machine. Also: your pelvis can tilt back when going deep, causing lower back rounding and pain.

Why You Should Avoid The Smith Machine. The Smith Machine looks the same as if you would do free weight Squats, but safer. It's, however, different. Here are 3 reasons you should avoid Smith Machines:

Less Safe. Force your body into fixed movements patterns. This can cause knee/back injuries. And the fixed bar doesn't prevent accidents.
Less Efficient. Build less strength & muscle since the Smith balances the weight. Expect Squatting less when switching to free weights .
Little Carry-over. Technique is different using free weights since you have to balance the weight yourself. You'll have to relearn technique.

How to Squat When You Have No Power Rack. The next solutions work well to give you an idea of what you get from free weight Squats. But they'll limit your progres in the long-term. Best is to get access to a Power Rack.

Steinborn Lift. Lift the bar vertical, Squat under it and let the bar fall on your upper-back. Now Squat your reps. Video.
Power Clean. Perform a Power Clean to get the bar from the floor on your front shoulders. Now Front Squat your reps.
Bottom Position Squat. Put the bar on 2 saw horses. Now Squat from the bottom up. This is a lot harder, expect to lift less.

Limitations of The Steinborn Lift. Named after Henry “Milo” Steinborn who was Squatting 550lbs for reps in the 1920s. The Steinborn Lift will strengthen your abs. But it's an advanced exercise with limitations.

Less Safe. You have to know what you're doing when picking up the bar and returning it to the floor since you don't have safety pins.
Less Strength. You'll struggle increasing your Squat to more than 1x your body-weight since the Steinborn Lift pre-exhausts your Squat.
Compromised Technique. Getting the bar in proper position on your back gets even more tricky when you have to do a Steinborn Lift first.

Limitations of The Power Clean. The biggest problem here is that you're doing Front Squats instead of Back Squats. I recommend you to do the Steinborn Lift instead of Power Cleans. 3 reasons not to Power Clean + Front Squat:

No Back Squats. Most people are quad dominant. They need posterior chain emphasis from Back Squats to restore balance (think knee health).
Less Strength. Your Power Clean will limit your Front Squat. Hard to get past 1x your body-weight. You'll stall on Power Cleans first.
Less Safe. You don't have safety pins in case you get stuck. This also limits strength since you can't go all out without taking risks.

The Long-term Solution. Use the Steinborn Lift if you don't have a Power Rack. You'll be able to progress for 2-3 months before things get hard. Your progress should motivate you to find ways to keep going. Ideas:

Switch Gym. There are gyms out there who have Power Racks. Find one. Check out the gym guide in the forum for ideas.
Buy a Power Rack. Build a home gym if you got the place. You'll get your money back within 3 years. Example racks: link, link, link.
Build a Power Rack. Can be cheaper. Read this, this & this guides on building a Power Rack. Also these threads in the forum: link, link, link.
Last time: find access to a Power Rack. Smith Machine won't work. Steinborn Lift only works for a while. If you want to get maximal results, the Power Rack is the only solution. Don't waste your time on this.

For anyone that uses a barbell for squats but you dont have a rack
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PostSubject: Re: How to Squat When You Don’t Have a Power Rack‏   How to Squat When You Don’t Have a Power Rack‏ EmptyTue Oct 16, 2012 5:16 pm

How to Master The Overhead Press‏

Up to 1972 the Overhead press was part of Weightlifting competitions. Flexible athletes arched their back to press more weight overhead. This made judging hard, causing the removal of the Overhead Press from competitions.
Today the Overhead Press has lost favor for the Bench Press. Which is a shame, as the Overhead Press is in many ways a better exercise than the Bench Press. That's why the Overhead Press is part of StrongLifts 5x5 program.
You won't see many people do the Overhead Press in the average gym. Hard to find someone to teach you how to do the Overhead Press correctly. This guide will help you – how to Overhead Press with correct technique.

What's the Overhead Press? Press the bar from your front shoulders overhead until your elbows are locked. Your knees and hips must remain locked through the whole movement otherwise you're doing Push Preses. Stance should be shoulder-width apart (heels together is Military Press, which is harder).

Is the Overhead Press Safe? If you can't press the bar overhead, lower it back on your chest & put it on the floor like in the above Overhead Press video. You'll never find yourself stuck under the bar like with the Bench Press.
Like with any barbell exercise, you'll have problems finding balance the first time you try to Overhead Press. Start light, focus on your technique & add weight progressively. You'll improve.

4 Reasons To Overhead Press. You can lift more weight with the Bench Press than with the Overhead Press. But the Overhead Press has many benefits over the Bench Press. Some examples:

Full Body. The Overhead Press works your body as one piece. Your trunk & legs stabilize the weight while your shoulders, upper-chest & arms press the weight overhead.
Builds Muscle. Abs & back stabilize the weight. Shoulders, upper-chest & triceps press the weight overhead. The Overhead Press builds the physique of old-time strongman like Eugen Sandow.
Healthy Shoulders. The Bench Press works your front shoulders more than your back shoulders. The Overhead Press works all shoulder heads equally. Alternating the Overhead Press with the Bench Press minimizes risks of shoulder injuries caused by muscle imbalances.
It's Fun. Picking up a weight from the floor & pressing it overhead is more fun than pressing the same weight while lying on a Bench.

Overhead Press Setup. Put the bar on your front shoulders by taking it out of the uprights of your power rack or by Powercleaning the weight on every set.

Foot Stance. Shoulder-width apart. Try a staggered stance: one foot 5-10cm/3-4" in front of the other one.
Grip Width. About 46cm/18". The larger your build, the wider your grip. Hands should never touch your shoulders.
Gripping the Bar. Grip is same as for the Bench Press. Bar close to your wrist, in the base of your palm. Not close to your fingers.
Chest Up. Make a big chest & lift it up. Makes it easier to use your back muscles & shortens the distance the bar has to travel.
Elbows Forward. Elbows in front of the barbell when looking from the side. Not upper-arms parallel with the floor, it's not a Front Squat.
Look Forward. Looking up is bad for your neck. Look forward, fix a point on the wall before you.
Squeeze Your Glutes. Makes it impossible to arch your lower back, thus increasing safety. Squeeze your glutes hard.

Performing the Overhead Press. Press the bar overhead in a straight line, that's the shortest distance from start to finish. Unfortunately your head is in the way. So you'll need to move your head & torso during the Overhead Press.

Tilt Head Back. Quickly tilt your head back so the bar can pass your chin/nose without hitting them. Keep looking forward.
Shift Torso Forward. Once the bar reaches forehead level, shift your torso forward. Continue pressing the weight overhead.
Head Forward. Your chin should almost touch your chest when the weight is overhead. Look forward, not down.
Lock Everything. Squeeze shoulders, traps & back. Lock your elbows. End position should look like in the picture below.

Tips to Improve Your Overhead Press Technique. Common errors you'll make while learning how to Overhead Press with correct technique.

Elbows Forward, Chest Up. You'll forget to reposition yourself between reps at first. Start each rep with elbows in front of the bar & chest up.
Bar High. The higher the bar on your chest, the shorter the distance it has to travel. Put the bar close to your clavicles. Quickly tilt your head back & forth. Clavicles might hurt at first, your skin will adapt & thicken.
Go Forward. You'll miss reps if you stay back vs. getting under the bar. Shift your torso forward when the bar reaches forehead level.
Breathing. If you breathe at the top, you can bounce the bar off your chest making the next rep easier. Breathe at the bottom & you'll press from a dead stop, making the next rep harder. The former allows more weight. The latter makes the exercise harder, making the former easier.

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