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A squat rack is a device found in a gym which aids a weight lifter in the performance of squat lifting exercises. The squat rack is a metal stand which supports a barbell and weights at different levels. The weight lifter is able to position himself under the barbell and complete the squat lift by placing his shoulders under the barbell, standing up, then squatting down before eventually rising and placing the weight back onto the squat rack. The squat rack is used to strengthen and develop the thigh, hamstring and lower back muscle groups.
There are many weight lifting machines, such as the popular Smith Machine, that are used to perform squats. Many professional athletes and body builders prefer to use a squat rack and free weights to perform this exercise. The free weights aid in promoting balance as well as technique. The squat rack is a device which also promotes discipline and concentration as the lift is executed.
In some ways, a squat rack resembles a bench press without the bench. The two stands support the barbell wide enough apart to provide room for the lifter's shoulders to fit between the uprights. The stands also support the cradles that the barbell rests on. The typical squat rack will also utilize a cross beam, close to the floor, that the lifter can place a heel against and push off of for leverage. In most cases a lifter is able to squat much more weight than they can bench press, so the squat rack is typically constructed of a heavier steel than the common bench press.
A key factor in the commission of doing squats is a mirror. Many lifters prefer to watch themselves while performing the lift to ensure proper technique as well as to be sure they squat down far enough. For this reason, most squat areas position the rack in front of a mirrored wall. This encourages the lifter to maintain proper body position as well as proper weight placement on the shoulders.
The squat is an exercise which promotes the use of a spotter or a helper when changing weight disks. By working with a partner, the lifter is able to rest between sets of lifts while the other lifter completes the exercise. The person resting should always be on the highest alert and be able to step in and assist the lifter in case of an emergency. Cramps and fatigue are the two most hindering elements of squat lifting, along with having too much weight on the barbell.