T Nation

squatting with Manta Ray

Happy New Year to you all:


Hoping to get some feedback regarding a squatting technique. My gym has a piece of equipment called the Manta Ray. It’s a molded plastic piece that fits onto the bar and cradles the shoulder when you get into position on the bar. My understanding is that using it helps correct poor posture when doing the squats.


I recently started doing my first HST program and when I do the squats, I also began using the manta ray piece on the bar. I definitely feel something different, but what I feel I’m not sure is right. Using the manta ray piece, I find I lean more forward when squatting. Sure, seems to blast the thighs more, but it also kills my lower back. In doing the first cycle of HST (15RM sets), I can hardly get to rep #15 with this manta ray piece, because my back is so sore. I also find I can’t do as many reps as easily when I use the manta ray, as opposed to when I squat without it. Do others have experience with this piece of equipment. My thinking is perhaps this is HOW it IS supposed to feel, and I’ve been doing squats improperly all along, until I began using the manta ray. Any feedback from y’all would be great. Thanks!

i have the manta ray also.i bought it originally because i had little to no muscle on my back to carry the bar.i used it for my squats as needed until i felt more comfortable with the weight on my back.one thing i didnt like about it is it seems to place the bar up high which wasnt the ideal power position for me.i find a lower bar placemnet to be to my advantage for the heavier sets.if you want to work those quads hard,try some narrow stance squats and if you want to really hit the hamstings,go for a wide stance and/or do box squats.as for the manta ray,use it as you need to but i stronglyrecommend weaning off it as soon as possible.it is also good for jump squats since it keeps the bar from banging into your back when you land.sounds like your leaning forward is because of the manta ray which is exactly what i had trouble with.also if your just learning the squat,i would do much lower reps and many more sets.at 15 reps,the form goes to hell toward the end of the set.good luck

I tried the Manta Ray once and that was it. I hated it. It put the bar too high. The bar could still rotate in the Manta Ray, while it never did this on my back. Overall, I didn’t not like it and would not recommend it to anyone.

I recommend Smith-bar squats with the Manta Ray… for maximal weightroom futility. Dump it! :slight_smile:

I had a similar experience to these two gentlemen. It was too high, and as Jason said it would rotate, and I didn’t feel safe using it. Have you tried just wrapping a towel around the bar for now? It’s hard to remember back that far but I seem to remember it only took a few sessions to get used to the pain. I actually kinda enjoyed the pain for some reason. I felt like it was easier to control the movement when I could feel the bar “digging in” to my body.

I use it all tht time, mostly out of habit. I started using it for the same reason as Russ – no back mass. It still allows some leeway for bar placement, but it starts digging into my back if I get too low (too low for the Manta Ray). I DON’T have the low back problems, however, from the Manta Ray. The only time I get that is if I blow my form and round my back.

If you do have low back problems and want to work the quads hard, how about front squats?

IMO, I would not use it. I used one for a time and found, like the others here, that it put the bar to high. I experienced the same as you did and my lower back worked to hard to keep me upright.

The possibility that you were doing squats incorrectly to begin might still be a factor. I thought the same till a workout partner asked me if his form was a perfect as mine?! We’re our own worst critics.

Russ, the rep scheme is because of the routine Lorne has chosen. For hypertrophy I’ve found that 20rep squats were phenomenal. When I do HST the best my legs feel is during the 15’s. Takes a ton of mental focus to keep good form for that many reps. Croooz

To Russ, Jason, Ike, and Striker!
Thanks a lot for the feedback about the Manta Ray. You have affirmed and reinforced what I was already feeling about that piece of equipment. I’m going to go back to squatting without it. Thanks again. Happy New Year. Hope y’all reach new training gains this year.

Probably nothing majorly wrong with your squat. The manta ray is supposed to somewhat throw you forward, overloading not only the quads but even moreso the upper, mid, and lower back. Decrease the weight and focus on strengthening these muscles. Once you do, your “regular” squat poundages will drastically increase. If this is not your cup of tea, then scrap the manta ray altogether, but you will be missing out on possibly your weak link in the squat.

When I signed up for my fancy ass new 24 hour health club, I came across the manta ray. I quickly found out that it rested dead on one of my cervical vertabrae, and as such hurt like hell. The squat isn’t an excercise for the quads, so if they get the most benefit with the manta ray, something is wrong. Throw that bar on your traps, suck up the pain, and your back and newly rugged traps will thank you for it.

The squat is not an exercise for the quads?

I tried the manta ray once and I didn’t like it either. I did not feel secure with the bar resting that high, and the thing also dug into my traps. The best way to squat is with the bar across your upper back/ shoulders without any padding. If you want to put a thin towel around the bar, ok, but I save that for front squats. i get the best stability with a bare bar. And when I began lifting, I also lacked muscle mass on my upper back to cushion the bar, so I tried a pad once. I did not like it, and although it was a little uncomfortable, I used the bar from that point on. So suck up a little pain. It’s not that bad. If you still have a problem, try resting the bar lower on your back.

I’ve never squat with anything BUT the manta-ray (stupid gym trainer, remind me to not to listen to HER again)–anyone have some advice for someone first learning to squat without it?

as usual people will not like something because it makes an excercise harder. Why don’t you tell arnold and tom platz that the squat is not for the quads. There are many ways to do squats, and the manta ray is not meant to for powerlifting squats. Even the Westside crew use the manta ray because of the effect it has on working specific muscles at that bar positioning. What kind of bar are you guys using who say that it rolls when the manta is on. I sometimes have trouble even putting it on my olympic bars in my gym. The towel is a bad idea because it doesn’t allow the bar to stabilize properly. I do full manta ray squats and it works my quads, hams, glutes, and lower back as a real full squat should. laters pk

Just take the thing off and squat. It’s pretty much that simple. You’ll have to accustomize yourself to what the bar feels like. I agree with TCG because I can only squat without any padding. There are just too many issues with pads & towels. They shift out of position, the velcro starts to dig into your back… I prefer it bareback :wink:

For you, just take it slow. The biggest mistakes I see are depth & lateral knee movement. Go deep and make sure to keep those knees from moving in or out. Another thing is on your way to the top bring your hips forward. Sounds like a no brainer but you don’t see too many people squatting like that. Well at least I don’t Croooz