The back squat is a fantastic exercise when it is done correctly. Something that I see quite a lot is that people don’t set themselves up properly when they go to do the exercise itself. Below, I will go through how to do this in a few steps.
Safety Bar Height
The first thing that you need to do is set up the safety bars on the sides of the squat rack. These are useful in case we fatigue, or something goes wrong where you simply can’t stand back up whilst squatting. The safety bars will be there to catch the barbell if this happens.
The best way to decide how high they need to be, is to do a body weight squat in the squat rack and set the safety bars slightly below shoulder level.
The next thing to do is to look at the height you need to set the barbell. First, you need to set the J-hooks at this height to rest the barbell on. The height of the bar should be slightly above chest level.
If the bar is set too low, you will have to squat down too far, and this will cause an unwanted rounding of the spine. If the bar is set too high, you will be forced to come up on your toes, which will give you less stability for the lift. Both positions will force your body into a compromising position and naturally puts you at an unnecessary risk of an injury.
Un-Racking The Bar
When the barbell is set to your appropriate height, the safest way to take the bar off is to stand with your feet underneath the middle of the bar. Grab hold of the bar and pull it down on your upper back. Set your feet shoulder width apart and lift your chest up. Take a deep breath in and stand up tall.
Stepping Away From The Hooks
Once you’re in this position, take 3 steps back from the hooks. This will prevent you hitting the bar off the hooks when doing the excercise. Also, if you step too far back when you finish your set and you’re fatigued, you don’t have to step forward too far with the bar on your back.
One last thing is if you are new to the exercise place a bench or a step behind you as this will give you a good idea of how low to squat down to, and also it will be another safety tool in case you lose your balance.