Squats with no power rack?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 01, 2008 5:17 PM GMT
    I'm trying to bulk up, and am making a bit slower progress than I used to. I think a lot of it has to do with my inability to do squats at the new gym I have to use (campus gym, no fees).

    We have no power rack at our gym. We have a bench press station with the bar rack attached to the bench, so I cannot move the bench away and just use the rack for squats. We have a Smith machine, but I've always read not to do squats in these, as it will lead to injury, and does not work the stabilizer muscles in a squat, which sort of defeats the purpose of a squat for all-around mass. I've tried loading the barbell, standing it on one side, squatting down to rest it on my back, then balancing it out on my shoulders to do squats, but due to the flooring at my gym, resting the barbell back on its end to come out of the squat became a problem and the bar landed on my neck, making me unwilling to do this method again (forgot what this is called, but have seen it in videos).

    I've read to clean and front squat, but I have never tried cleaning, and do not have a trainer at the gym to show me proper form to do this. If I'm going for mass gains this winter, would this be the best option? When coming out of a clean, do I have to drop the weights on the ground? I don't want to pull my arms out of socket trying to lower the weights, but I also don't want to throw weights around. We don't have those cool rubber ones that bounce and don't break.

    Any other suggestions as to what I could do for squats?
  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Dec 01, 2008 5:58 PM GMT
    First, I would seriously suggest not doing cleans without learning the proper form from a certified trainer. Learning the proper form for cleans takes a long, long time, and can easily lead to injury in a lot of different places.

    Second, if you're going to be doing a clean just to get your squats in, I'd say skip the squats and do cleans themselves for your mass builder. Again, I wouldn't do this without learning from a trainer first. But, the clean is a great exercise, uses tons of muscles (like the squat) and you'd basically have to be able to clean the amount that you were going to squat for reps, which makes me think that cleaning the weight so that you can do a squat is a bad idea. The clean itself would tire you out too, before you even start the squat.

    Why not try deadlifts instead? You don't need anything other than a barbell and weights for that. It's a great mass builder.

    Oh, also, if you're gym allows power lifting (which they may not if they don't have a box), you're almost always allowed to drop the weight. Once you're lifting heavy enough weights, it's basically required that you drop the weight. You want to control it, but as long as you don't drop the weight on yourself or anyone else, and you don't injure yourself dropping it, anything is fair game. Of course, then you're 'that guy' at the gym that always drops his weights and makes tons of noise. I'm that guy sometimes, so I know icon_smile.gif

    If you want to know proper form and instructions on self teaching for cleans and other olympic lifts, there are some great forum posts here: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=6220661 and http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=4378183.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 01, 2008 8:19 PM GMT
    Well, I do deadlifts as well. I've been reading a lot about the "squats and milk" routine that powerlifters seem to orgasm over so much. It calls for:

    20-rep squats (1 set, with weights at 10-rep max)
    12-rep pull-overs with light weight to stretch out the chest
    20-rep deadlifts (1 set, with weights at 10-rep max)
    12-rep pull-overs with light weight

    then with whatever energy I have left (usually not much), I either do bench press and dips, then max out with pushups, or I'll max out on pull-ups, then do rows until my arms fall off.

    Trying to keep it pretty simple, but do all compound exercises for overall mass.

    I suppose doing cleans is in essence almost the same as doing a squat, but again the whole 'dropping the weight' thing is not allowed, and can be pretty dangerous. It's in semi-cramped quarters, no box, and all the weights are iron, which would mess up our floor (and probably the bar) in a heartbeat.

    Without the trainer available, do you think I should try my first clean with a bar? I've got a broom at home I could try it out with, but no mirrors to check form in, and not sure how beneficial it would be to try with no weight at all. I've heard of people doing cleans with dumbbells. Should I try this, or not waste my time?
  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Dec 01, 2008 10:50 PM GMT
    You can definitely practice a clean at home with a broom.

    If you do your reading on it, you can break it down into a number of components: first pull, second pull, and the last part (can't remember what it's called, but it's where you slam your wrists under the bar).

    I learned it over months, component by component. And I practiced with a broom too. This definitely works, although it's frustrating as hell and takes forever. I actually found using the bar more useful than the broom, because the broom is so light.

    I would only personally have wanted to learn the clean at home if I could record a video of myself, so that I could see what I was doing and compare that to other videos on the net. If you can't see what you're doing, and aren't being supervised by someone else, you're seriously asking for injury.

    I can't really imagine doing cleans with dumbbells, so I'm not the person to ask about them. Keep in mind that I'm not certified either, so don't take any of my advice as anything other than me shooting my mouth off from my own experience.

    What I have done is dumbbell snatches. These are great, and involve compound muscles as well. Mainly because the trick is to use your legs and hips as much as possible to thrust the weight up. I suspect these would do you really good.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 01, 2008 11:27 PM GMT
    Wow... that really doesn't look safe...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 02, 2008 12:06 AM GMT
    The methods you are describing--such as cleaning to get the weight up--are fine exercises, but you'll never get a heavy enough weight onto your back in the right location using these methods if your goal with squats is building lots of mass. At least you won't be able to do so safely. Can you talk to the administrator of the gym about getting a rack?
  • DCEric

    Posts: 3713

    Dec 02, 2008 12:24 AM GMT
    tasty_oblivion saidWow... that really doesn't look safe...


    This.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 02, 2008 1:03 AM GMT
    [quote][cite]UncleverName said[/cite]You can definitely practice a clean at home with a broom.

    If you do your reading on it, you can break it down into a number of components: first pull, second pull, and the last part (can't remember what it's called, but it's where you slam your wrists under the bar).



    It's called a Scoop and then Catch.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 02, 2008 2:40 PM GMT
    You could use the dipping bars as a place to put the barbell.

    You could set up two plate trees (those things that hold the weight plates; they look like little iron Christmas trees) to form a sort of squat rack. The bar would go across one of the the top "branches" of each one. You'd have to squat down really low to get under the bar, but you should be squatting low anyway.

    Another idea is to go buy two large metal trash cans, turn them over, and position them so that the barbell rests on them (plates contacting each can). However it might be difficult to prevent the bar from rolling off.

    As far as cleaning the weight and doing front squats, if you can clean properly, you should be able to clean a weight that is more than 80% of your max back squat; you won't be doing front squats with it, but you can get a very good front squat workout. However, it takes a coach and/or lots of commitment to learn how to clean.

    Why not just join a real gym, i.e. one that has a squat rack?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 02, 2008 5:59 PM GMT
    Coolrabbit said...
    Why not just join a real gym, i.e. one that has a squat rack?


    Lack of funds.

    I like the idea of using dip bars as a squat rack though. I've put in the suggestion to get a power rack at the gym, and in the meantime, if they see me using the dip bars to hold the bar, maybe they'll get a hint that one is needed. I'm interested to see if the dip bars would be too close together to be able to stack 45-lb weights on the end of the bar though without falling off one side.

    Unclever, I'll give those dumbbell snatches a shot too, as I'd like to eventually be able to do clean and press / snatch. I'll probably have graduated by the time I start doing those with heavily loaded barbells anyway.

    Going back to deadlifts... for gaining mass all over, are deadlifts as efficient as squats? Could I be doing multiple sets of these, with leg presses and lunges to substitute for squats?
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    Dec 02, 2008 9:15 PM GMT
    Everone is slightly different with deads, but for most guys about the bottom third of the movement is done with the legs. After that the back is increasingly engaged. And it's a great mass builder.

    An excellent reference book for learning proper form in squat, deads, benching, etc., is Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.
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    Dec 02, 2008 9:28 PM GMT
    I'm not sure how good an idea is was, but the squat station at the old crew barn was the pull-up bar. Your buddy does a pull-up, then you get underneath him and he sits on your shoulders. Then you do squats.
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    Dec 03, 2008 8:16 AM GMT
    If your gym has no squat racks:

    Grab some heavy dumbbells and do the same. Pick them up, from the floor and do it over and over again. It is harder, since dumbells are closer to the ground. But clean them and squat. Over and over.

    Do deadlifts. Everyone has talked about them. They are the single best overall workout you can do. Just do them enough to stress yourself.

    JW
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    Jan 05, 2009 8:59 PM GMT
    seapower saidCan you talk to the administrator of the gym about getting a rack?


    I went back to my gym today after a nice holiday break (in other words, they re-opened for next semester), and much to my delighted surprise, there is a nice big, heavy power rack sitting at the front of the gym! It's almost like Allah was listening to my prayers, then Santa stepped up and raped him with sandpaper, while leaving me presents at the gym! (Okay, so it's nothing like that at all, but I'm still excited.)
    I guess they listen to what the students have to say after all!

    Today after doing a few sets of squats, I saw someone else go up and use the power rack to do sit-ups in. I'm hoping the crowd dies down soon from all the 'new-year-resolution'ers. I'm sure when the regular crowd gets back to school, it'll dwindle down.
  • vindog

    Posts: 1440

    Jan 15, 2009 7:11 PM GMT


    I really like squats with dumbells on a bosu ball.