If you’re unfamiliar with squat rack etiquette in the gym, here are some things to think about while you’re training. The typical gym only has one or two squat racks in the free weight area. I’ve been a personal trainer for 25 years, and I have seen a lot of weight room faux pas around the use of the squat rack.
If you’re taking up a rack when you don’t really need it, you’re keeping other folks from doing the exercises that really require use of the squat rack!
(The comments below are based on the assumption that we’re talking about a typical gym that only has one or two squat racks, not a strength and conditioning center with 15 racks available.)
Squat rack etiquette – When you need the rack
In the weight room, you need the squat rack for
- Barbell squats
- Barbell lunges
- Heavy overhead presses and jerks
- Other back-bar exercises, like barbell step-ups
If your gym does not have a dedicated barbell bench press station, you’ll need the rack for barbell bench exercises too.
If you’re taking up a rack while you’re working on one or more of those exercises, no foul. You’re performing the exercises inside the cage for safety purposes, and/or you need the rack to set up the exercise with the loaded barbell at a certain height off the ground.
Squat rack etiquette – When you shouldn’t use the rack
If, however, you’re using the squat rack to hold your barbell for something else, you’re taking up a valuable resource that you don’t need.
Common examples of Squat Rack Wasted As A Barbell Holder:
- Barbell curls
- Upright rows (you shouldn’t do these anywhere, see Exercises That Cause Injury)
- Bent over rows
- Power cleans or hang cleans
If you’re doing any of those exercises, be considerate and set your barbell on the floor, not on the rack!
More squat rack etiquette
This goes without saying, but we always have to say it — rack your weights when you’re done. Leaving your barbell loaded for the next person to strip is just lazy and rude. Strip your bar when you’re done, that’s good weight room manners at any station!
About the author
Dan DeFigio is a well-known personal trainer who has been featured on CNN’s Fit Nation, The Dr Phil Show, Muscle & Fitness, Shape Magazine, MyFitnessPal.com, and a host of other media outlets. Contact Dan for information about personal training in Nashville, or for interview requests.