Quick Tip #9: Squat Unrack Issues? Read THIS!

By: Brian Carroll

Squat Unrack Issues?

Everyone has their way of approaching a squat bar with their ritual of getting their mind and body right. Some wiggle into position and take forever; some just get under and go without much thought.

The unrack is obviously very important and sets the tone for the squat in many ways. For instance, if you’re all over the place to start – this is not going to help your chances of nailing the squat. It’s not only a huge waste of energy, but also a huge liability in general.

Here is something to try if you have unrack or set-up issues, especially if you have a hard time knowing if you’re in proper position or never quite feel comfortable when you unrack, whether you walk the squat out or not but especially if you use a monolift:

Set your back under the bar BEFORE you set your feet. There are many ways to approach the bar, but especially lately I’ve noticed a trend of lifters that set their feet first, then their back and most if not all have a much higher likelihood of unracking either on their toes or on their heels.

I’ve always suggested setting the back/traps before setting the feet. Mainly because every squat rack apparatus is different and sometimes you have to adjust to the rack. By guessing where your feet should be (more forward or back) you are taking a big risk. If the hooks on the rack or mono swing or move a lot, then it’s VERY hard to predict how far forward or back your feet should end up. By setting your back first, you take the guesswork out of the equation and then you just set your feet accordingly.

In Review:

Slide under the bar, lock your back in first, whether low or high bar, then drag your feet under you and adjust and set them to finalize your set-up.

Many times this simple adjustment, fixed a problematic unrack in only 5 minutes.

Give it a try.


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Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at PowerRackStrength.com
Brian is a retired world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world-class powerlifting. From 1999 to 2020, Brian Carroll was a competitive powerlifter, one of the most accomplished lifters in the sport's history. Brian started off competing in bench press competitions 'raw,' then, shortly into the journey, he gravitated toward equipped lifting as there were no "raw" categories then. You only had to choose from single-ply (USPF) and Multi-ply (APF/WPC). Brian went on to total 2730 at 275 and 2651 at 242 with more than ten times his body weight in three different classes (220, 242, 275), and both bench pressed and deadlifted over 800 pounds in two other weight classes. He's totaled 2600 over 20 times in 2 different weight classes in his career. With 60 squats of 1000lbs or more officially, this is the most in powerlifting history, regardless of weight class or federation, by anyone not named David Hoff. Brian realized many ups and downs during his 20+ years competing. After ten years of high-level powerlifting competition and an all-time World Record squat at 220 with 1030, in 2009, Brian was competing for a Police academy scholarship. On a hot and humid July morning, Brian, hurdling over a barricade at 275lbs, landed on, fell, and hurt his back. After years of back pain and failed therapy, Brian met with world-renowned back specialist Prof McGill in 2013, which changed his trajectory more than he could have imagined. In 2017, Brian Carroll and Prof McGill authored the best-selling book about Brian's triumphant comeback to powerlifting in Gift of Injury. Most recently (10.3.20) -Brian set the highest squat of all time (regardless of weight class) with 1306 lbs – being the first man to break the 1300lb squat barrier at a bodyweight of 303 lbs.
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