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There seems to be some confusion about the proper use of the power rack. Believe it or not, the power rack was not invented for empty-bar curls, dumbbell laterals or hanging your gym bag. The power rack is so much more. It is a serious tool for serious bodybuilders, and putting it to good use will help you overcome plateaus in your bench press, squat and even the deadlift, and help you develop more muscle than you ever thought possible!
Do you have trouble coming out of the bottom of the squat? What about locking out your bench press? Such issues may be hindering your ability to pack on some serious muscle, and it’s time to let the power rack help. Here are some typical lifting problems and the solutions the power rack can provide.
Dilemma: Locking out
Power-Rack Rx: Partials
Partials, so named due to the fact that you work in a partial range of motion (ROM), will help increase overall strength while also giving you more power to get through the weaker part of a lift, such as the last few inches of a bench press, for example.
How: Do four sets of 6-8 partials at the beginning of your bench press routine, then finish with your full-ROM working sets.
Dilemma: Getting out of the hole (bottom portion of the rep)
Power-Rack Rx: Reverse squats
Reverse squats help you train without the added benefit of the elastic energy built up during the negative portion of a rep. After a few weeks, this increase in starting strength (out of the hole) combined with that elastic energy found in standard squats will elicit marked improvement in your squat performance and help you build thicker, stronger legs.
How: Do 3-4 sets of six reps at the start of your squat routine. Finish with full-ROM squats.
Dilemma: Sticking point
Power-Rack Rx: Isometric training
It’s possible to produce more force during an isometric muscle action (one in which the muscle contracts without moving) than either a positive or negative muscle action. So training using isometrics will help produce serious increases in size and strength. Isometric training is angle-specific. Because gains in strength will only be realized at each particular angle, it’s very important to continuously change the height of the safety bars to elicit full-range gains in strength.
How: Do four sets of the five-second pulls at each level before raising the safeties.
Note: Load the bar with roughly 50% of your 10RM. Even though you’re using isometrics (with the primary resistance being the safety bars), having some weight on the bar will keep it moving in a natural plane from the floor up.