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Improving Strength w/ No Squat Rack?


Ok I m working my strength out (with low number related to the beasts here but I m going hard). My gym has no squat rack. Yes. It does exist, especially in Paris, finding a squat rack is hardcore, you know.

Well I paid when I was doing some useless fitness and cant get a refund or cant get them to buy one. They say “use the smith”.

I squatted using an incline bench (this was pretty acrobatic and silly) but as the weight I lift is heavier and heavier, I cannot do it anymore.

So I went on the smith. But the smith wrecks my knees, no matter how I position my feet, no matter my form : Smith = painful knees (and lower back too).

My program is basically a variation of SL5x5 (i finished the first round and adapted it), with 2 workouts :

A\ Squat ; Bench ; Pull-ups - assistance with lat raise, shoulder rotation work
B\ Squat ; OHP ; Deadlift - chin ups for assistance

And crunches at night.

Squat is becoming difficult. In 3 months I am changing my gym however I still want to build strength on legs. What can I do ? Heavy lunges high rep ? Going supra-heavy on leg press ?

I got the shits not being able to squat

If you have a weight belt, you can stand on two benches or two platforms, and have weight hang between your legs.
Do your squats like that.

zercher lift+ rep it out with squats

tons of deadlifting

clean+front squat

for a while I couldn’t back squat because I jacked my shoulder. So for about a month and a half I just worked on my front squats. I got up to about 205x5 before my shoulder healed, and when I went back to back squats, I was actually stronger than before.

so I second the front squats. Might as well work on cleans too while you’re at it.

Well the “weight between your legs” solution looks fancy but I cannot do that.

I will try the clean and front squat. Never front squatted before. Sounds good. And I love deadlifts so… That might be 3 interesting months.

As I am in a topic… I read more and more about shooting for the reps on the squats. I am aiming for more weight, personnally, at the moment.

Should I go “more weight / more reps” ? Like doing 1x20 and still upping weight ?

your a beginner. Don’t do someone like 1x20, just stick with the usual 6-12, wherever in that range you like pick that and stick with it. If you like lower reps, pick 6 reps and focus on increasing the weight you lift each time at 6 reps. If you want 10 reps, try to increase the amount you lift for 10 reps each week. 20 is too much for someone who likely does not understand how to push themselves yet, and probably does not have the body awareness to keep their form once they’re on the 12+ rep and are getting tired.

And you don’t have to do squats. Do lunges, leg presses, something else. Squats are great and all, I love them myself, but if you do not have a good way to safely load the movement then they are not a practical option. The cleaning and front squatting technique will work for a while, but if your like most people (all hopefully) your going to be squatting way more then you can clean after a little bit, so then you can’t really progress easily.

Thanks for the answers

I can’t clean what I squat right now. I tried again smith machine squat yesterday and no knee pain… I will stick with low reps for the moment because I love my 5x5 and it seems my body is well reacting to it and I am gaining a lot of strength… I will shoot to more reps in some months, I think, when my focus will be on hypertrophy.