Rack Up The Gains
By Admin | Tuesday, May 6, 2008 11:00:37 AM America/New_York
You're probably familiar with the power rack - a tall, metal-framed structure usually found in the free-weight area of the gym. It's also likely that, if you include barbell squats in your training routine, you've done them within the confines of one. However, outside of squatters, most power racks see about as much action as the local library on a Friday night. With this article, we at ProSource are hoping to change that, introducing you to five other exercises you can perform in the rack, for your back, chest, traps, shoulders and legs. There are many others - indeed, there are multiple options for every body part - and once you get a taste of its worth, we're sure you'll find your way to the rack in almost every workout. Sure beats an evening of amateur poetry reading, doesn't it?
1) Bench Press Partials
The power rack can play a valuable role in improving your bench press max, allowing you to focus on a specific portion of the range of motion by setting the safety rods at a corresponding height. For example, say you're having trouble getting 315 pounds through the midpoint of the rep to full extension. To work on it, place a flat bench in the power rack, and set the rods so they "catch" the barbell just below the midpoint. Then put 315 on the bar and try anywhere from three to five sets of 1-3 reps each in the upper range of motion, pressing the barbell from the supports to full extension. Rest the barbell on the rods between each rep. After a few chest workouts that incorporate these partials, you may find your strength has improved enough to allow you to get 315 on a regular bench.
2) Behind-the-Back Shrug
The power rack is a great place to do standard barbell shrugs. And it's an even better place to do a variation favored by eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney - behind-the-back shrugs. By setting the safety rods just below your typical shrug range of motion, an awkward part of the exercise becomes easy: Picking up the barbell to get into starting position. Simply bend slightly at the knees and grasp the bar behind you with an overhand, palms-facing-back grip. Another benefit of doing this move in a power rack? You can rep until complete failure, as you can put the bar straight down without having to maneuver it onto hooks or dropping it to the floor.
3) Seated Military Press
Seated barbell military press stations are quickly becoming a rarity in health clubs, both because of insurance reasons and an unfortunate lack of popularity among the lesser motivated among us. However, as long as there is a power rack present, you can still perform this excellent delt-building exercise. Place an adjustable bench that goes all the way up to a sitting position, or a low-back seated bench, in the rack. Set the two barbell support pins at a point above your head, where you can lift the bar off of them while seated, and insert the safety rods at a point just below the bottom of your range of motion. Not only can you do military presses in the rack, but you can do them without the need of a spotter, which is a necessity in a traditional military press station - if you fail, just drop the bar to the strategically-placed rods, and you're free and clear. Heck, maybe the disappearance of military press stations isn't such a major loss after all.
4) Three-Quarter Rep Deadlift
Deadlifts from the floor are one of the most effective exercises you can do for your legs, back and as a synergistic power generator through your whole body. But, similar to the bench press, you can work through the upper range of motion by setting the rods - in this case just below your knees - to help you improve your max. Three-quarter rep deads are also a solid stand-alone exercise for use during your back routine; this range is where your back sees most of the action in comparison with your legs, which generate much of the force needed to lift the bar from the floor.
5) Inverted Pull-Up
This back exercise, a variation of a traditional pull-up, resembles an upside-down push-up. Set the two pins at a height 6-12 inches above your hips and lay a barbell across them. From there, get under the bar in a plank position, grasping it overhand style. Your whole body, except the heels of your feet (which remain on the ground throughout), should be off the floor in the starting position. To rep, pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar, then lower and repeat.